Memory over marketing

Sips with Simone Massoni, cover artist for TF issue 244

Editorial Staff
April 9, 2018 - 12:31

While Tuscany is perhaps the one Italian region that reliably conjures up thoughts of wine, grapes, harvests and related revelry, concretely explaining the Chianti-colored glow perpetually cast over the territory is not exactly easy. This makes the cover of this April's print edition of The Florentine particularly special—artistic talent aside, it takes a certain type of savvy sipper to nail down the warm nostalgia of Tuscan wining-and-dining in illustration form.

Cover of the April 2018 print issue of The Florentine.
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Accomplished adoptive Tuscan Simone Massoni is the “savvy sipper” and A-list illustrator behind this month’s cover. Born in Rome, raised in Lucca and based in Florence for the past 20 years, Simone’s work has appeared in The New Yorker and its books, The New York Times and numerous other publications, and his playful style has earned him commissions from some top international brands. “Being appreciated outside of the city you call your own is definitely exciting,” he says. “I’m fortunate, in a world with so many languages and dialects, to speak the ‘language of the image’, which needs no translation and can be understood by anyone.”

As most great things do in Tuscany, the backstory for this month’s cover begins and ends at the table. Originally commissioned by the historic winery Ruffino, the illustration, by design, needed to evoke a festive, convivial atmosphere, something traditional but not banal, familial but not clichéd. Simone describes the experience of putting it together as “memory, not marketing.” He needed only to think back on the vines, lemon trees and table settings of his childhood and adolescence, to reassemble all those “puzzle pieces collected over an entire lifespan.”

A closer look at Simone's illustration

The in-demand Simone won’t take much of a break after this cover debuts: he plans to get back to a project long in the pipeline, Banich sei tu il mummiez. “I can’t reveal too much,” he says—his first language is imagery, anyway—“but it’s going to be a giant journal compiling all my travel experiences over the past decade.”

TF ourselves are not yet privy to everything inside, but we predict that at some point, those illustrated travels circle back to the Tuscan table.



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