Charles Fazzino is one of the most popular pop artists of all time thanks to his highly detailed, three-dimensional style that captures popular culture in vibrant and fun works of art.
Born Dec. 26, 1955 in New York, Fazzino grew up in a creative household. His mother, Irene, was a sculptor and his father, Salvatore, as a shoe designer. His first foray into art began during his seventh-grade art class in 1967, followed by a solo exhibition held at his school in 1968.
Fazzino went on to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City, graduating in 1977 and majoring in illustration and printing. In 1981, while looking for art supplies, he stumbled upon what would inspire his now signature techniques. While in Florida he came across a store holding a paper tole class (paper tole is a technique used to create 3-D effects with layers of paper adhered together). Fascinated by the cutting of wrapping paper and greeting cards to create 3-D collages, Fazzino recalled the pop-out books his parents would buy him as a child.
Inspired, Fazzino returned to New York and began cutting up old prints, mainly cityscapes, and layering them together. He took these three-dimensional works to a show and found that people loved them, with these works being collected faster than his flat paintings.
“The process really comes from doodles as a child, and then I love pop-out books and did a little bit of printmaking in school,” he says. “Everything came together.”
The three-dimensional works are a labor of love for Fazzino, with just one work requiring up to a week to create. His process starts with researching the subject, up to several months, before creating a flat drawing. This drawing becomes a silk screen, with one layer used as the base and thinner “flats” used as the cutouts for the layering process, which is typically three layers. Once the layering is complete, the work is finished by hand with glitter and crystals. Fazzino, drawing on his Italian heritage, says they are “layered almost like a lasagna.”
Regarding his artwork, Fazzino says his goal is to create a body of work capturing popular culture and reflecting it back to his audience and collectors. The art is meant to remind people of their origins, who they are and what motivates them. His style, technique, and sense of composition make him a master storyteller by capturing the most meaningful parts of everyday lives.
“People say they have pieces of artwork on the wall for 20 years and they’re amazed that they never saw this or never saw that,” he says.
Fazzino has created artwork for 10 Major League Baseball All-Star Games, has commemorated every Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXXV with artwork, created the official artwork for the 46th Annual Grammy Awards as well as for the 2013 Warrior Games, an annual athletic competition for wounded veterans. The JFK International Airport features his rotating three-dimensional sculpture of an American Airlines plane to welcome travelers to New York. He was also selected as the official artist for the centennial of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Fazzino’s artwork is exhibited around the world in more than 20 countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the U.S.