Jonathan Calugi

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 Illustration for 9volt, a new editorial project.

Illustration for 9volt, a new editorial project.

Title: Designer, Illustrator

From: Pistoia, Italy

Lives in: Pistoia, Italy

Age: 27


For Jonathan Calugi, doodling has evolved into an abiding aesthetic. The affable Italian taps into his childhood experiences rather than any formal training to create everything from playful fonts (Bada Bum!) to winsome T-shirts (“Me – You = Sad”), all on display at his website, Happy Lovers Town.

Calugi’s work often fixates on intricate, obsessive patterns and eccentric geometric forms that emulate trippy wallpaper motifs. They can be found on products from the fabric purveyor Bon Bon Kakku, and his schematic diagrams are tailor-made for clothing lines like Noodle Park Kid. “Jonathan’s illustrations create detailed worlds that lend themselves to multilayered storytelling,” says Adam Flanagan, a senior designer at 160 over 90 who selected Calugi to participate in the De’ Longhi Artista Series, in which 10 designers laser-etched their own creations onto Perfecta espresso machines. “His illustration gives the user something new to discover with each cup.” In the artwork, letters and words are playfully hidden behind faces, raindrops, and ears. “It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo?'” says Calugi. “Each time, you can find a surprise.”

Calugi’s fonts, which are given vivid names like Umma Gomma and Disco Fat, sport a roly-poly, neohippie vibe that offers an unconditional, childlike hug. He has a pattern called “Bears Are So Bad,” and his T-shirts carry their own brand of innocence too: one slogan, in soft, curved, hand-drawn letters, reiterates the designer’s philosophy, “Spread Love No War No Lawyers Be Freedom.”

“When I create a letter, I think about that letter as a complete world,” he explains. “And when I write a word, I think of the word as an entire universe. When you write with love, you can write many things inside each and every letter. One letter can speak more than an entire book.”

“Strange World,” a pattern designed for Engrave Your Book

“Strange World,” a pattern designed for Engrave Your Book, a Portland, Oregon-based company that translates artwork into leather Moleskine covers.

[View the entire list of winners here.]