Antonio P. Vella
Art Meets Science
Scientific artists or artistic scientists?
By: Antonio P. Vella Instagram: @antoniop.vella
1.) Antonio, are you an artist first and a scientist second, or a scientist first and an artist second?
Although I've been practicing art well before I wore my first lab-coat, I invest more of my time in a day focusing and studying material related to my university course to keep up with assignments and lab work given that I pursue to make research, specifically neuroscience and genetic engineering, my main career and source of income. Though, if science is the car I'm in, art and creativity is the fuel that helps me run through a day's worth of trouble. I was drawn to both art and science enigmatically as none of my family members are drawn to either two. Despite their efforts from since I was just a toddler to nurture me into liking the same careers and pastimes they enjoyed, I was too rooted into becoming a scientist and a painter.
2.) What led you to pick science as your primary theme?
Even when I'm in the lab, far from a single brush or aquarelle, I see art in everything that I work with, from the way pH indicators change colour to the sheer complexity and order which govern the metabolism of cells and structure of the genome. I find incorporating science into my art as another means through which I myself and others can learn more about the subject beyond the traditional text on paper system.
3.) Do you wish to educate and inspire, tell stories, inspire curiosity, or do you do art for yourself?
I live in a country statistically classified as one of the least in Europe in which young men and women are interested in taking up careers related to science. I prosper that through my art work I inspire viewers into wanting to know more about the very theme I work on and help enrich the scientific knowledge for future generations.
4.) What aspect of science do you focus on?
I am personally drawn mostly to anatomical studies because although I acknowledge that the very function of our body goes deeper than what we see with the naked eye, we have evolved into generating a profound appreciation of the gross structures of our body parts. People are moved emotionally more when seeing the familiar depiction of a heart or a brain than they are seeing a sequence of nucleotides even though that DNA sequence may be equally as mandatory for life to persist.
5.) What is the primary media you use to create your art?
Most of my art work consist of mixed media. My experience has thought me that one medium can reach a result which another medium cannot and this concept interlinks between all media in art. I have expanded my spectrum of media recently by also incorporating 3D printed elements in my work using PLA which gave a fresh tactile nature to a piece of art which was usually limited to its 2D nature.
6.) What is your favorite piece? Tell me about it.
One of my latest and most cherished artworks is called sotto la pelle, italian for 'under the skin'. I was inspired to create this depiction in response to how people dread images related to X-rays and skeletons as this reminds them of sickness and death. With the correct use of colour and proportion I sought to challenge this idea and produce an drawing which is appealing to look at despite the underlying nature of what is being shown. All features, from the skull to the hand and butterfly are drawn using precise anatomical proportions thus complement the objectivity of my scientific theme. One example which shows how art could inspire curiosity in viewers is when I was asked by a young art student why I didn't add muscles to the finger bones. I stole the occasion to tell him that, to his surprise given public belief, there are no muscles in fingers. Also, you may add any science lesson you like to complement the drawing.
7.) Do you sale your art or take commissions?
Yes, selected pieces of my art are available for sale on my website: https://antoniopvella.wixsite.com/artist (personal details could also be found there).
Given that I update my Instagram at a faster rate (@antoniop.vella), anyone interested may message me there as well with regards to selling original pieces, prints or to set up commissions. Recently I am working on collaborations which will make it possible for my art to be sold not only as scaled paper prints but also printed on T-shirts, polo-shirts and other garments with a copyrighted signature. I do not have an Etsy store so far but it is surely an option in the future. I also have a Pinterest account (/antoniopvella) where I pin selected pieces of my works.
8.) Where are you from?
I am naively Maltese and have always lived on my little home-island, Malta. I have been taught art privately from the age of 7 and have changed over 6 art tutors over the years for countless reasons. I find that this has helped me become more flexible in the way I paint and draw as with every tutor, I learned about a new artistic style and mastered a new medium aiding me with finding my preferred style and tactics which define my art today.
Antonio P. Vella