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The Familiar Face of Ciao

Tecnica: Drawing, Photography, & Illustration

From this project’s introduction, I wanted to use the informal quality of the word “ciao”, as well as it’s subtle ability to equalize people of all backgrounds.
As I was experimenting and brainstorming what direction I wanted to take, I realized one of the most important elements of the word, is the person who says it, and, the amount of expression in someone’s face when they say it. I wanted to communicate how this simple word can change the course of your day, especially when said with a smile. I photographed my roommate, who is possibly one of the most friendly, happy people I know, at the exact moment she said the word.
After that, I sketched ciao on paper, using the photo for inspiration. I then took the sketch of the word into illustrator and assembled it onto the photo, to ensure the sizing and structure of the letters was correct. I then chose to use a playful color scheme to mimic the informality of the word itself.
It was at this point that I decided to use the design as a piece of graffiti, as a mark, to represent that it is a word that everyone can use. I thought about one of my favorite street artists, Banksy, who said, “Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.
I wanted to make something that could make anyone smile, even for a moment. Just like “ciao”, can make you smile, even for a moment. Whether it’s said by a friend, a storekeeper, or a complete stranger. It can be placed on any wall, said by any person– from a street sweeper to a young student, it is a way of welcoming foreigners and opening the door to conversation. Additionally, I chose to represent it in a somewhat crude way to communicate the informality of the word. It is a common and perhaps often misused word, but it is a way to level the playing field and open the borders of Italy to the rest of the world.

Rylee Miller
Rylee Miller
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