Charles Fazzino is a narrative, 3D artist based in New Rochelle located just outside of New York City, and has been doing pop-up artwork since 1982. Growing up, Fazzino recalled being constantly surrounded by art due to his mother being an artist and his dad being a shoe designer. He remembered his mother taking him to art museums and sketching at his dad’s design studio. Because of his early exposure to art, he knew early on that he wanted to be an artist. He also joked that he wasn’t that good in school anyways, and being an artist was a better choice for him. Fazzino received his Bachelor's in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
However, just like any newly graduated student, landing a job was a struggle. Fazzino faced the same struggle as he couldn’t find a job as an illustrator. While helping his mother showcase her own craft at the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show, which is held twice a year, she suggested that Fazzino do the same thing. During the next art show, Fazzino showcased his first collection of pop-up books.
As a child, Fazzino recalled his mother buying him pop-up books. He decided to imitate these children’s pop-up books but have his own take on it. During the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show in 1982, Fazzino’s pop-up artworks sold out. Throughout the years that Fazzino has been doing 3D art, he’s always challenged himself to go bigger and add more detail to his artwork.
Fazzino admits that being an artist can be hard sometimes. One thing he recommends for young artists today is to also study business. Simply because if you want your artwork to sell or be promoted, he advises you to treat your artwork as a business. He also admitted another frustration that he experienced, even at this point in his career. It doesn’t matter how many years he’s been doing this craft, there will be people who have never laid eyes on his artwork, thus, causing Fazzino to constantly push himself to get his work recognized. “You truly have to be passionate about your work,” Fazzino stated. With his passion for what he does and the knowledge he has built up, Fazzino’s artworks can be seen worldwide.
Besides art, Fazzino has always been passionate about traveling and according to him, it is what fuels his creativity. Therefore most of his artworks are associated with cities. During the interview, he showed me an example of his current artwork he made for a gallery in Berlin, Germany, which featured historic landmarks in Berlin. According to Fazzino, his creative process starts with him going to the actual city—in this case, Fazzino went to Berlin. While in the city, he would visit landmarks and take pictures for reference. Afterward, he begins sketching, painting, and getting approval from the gallery. This process alone takes a month and then the printmaking begins. According to Fazzino, when he started, he used to do everything by himself but the more detailed and intricate his artworks get, doing things by himself got harder. He knew having a team would definitely help with the overall project. Currently, he has a staff of 70 artists that help build the pieces together to create this one big artwork. Once all pieces are printed, the cutting process begins. These pieces are cut out by hand using an exacto knife. This process, according to Fazzino, takes 1 or 2 days to complete. After the cutting process, a separate team starts the layering. Each piece has 1 or 2 people working and it would take about 8 to 10 hours. Another team would paint the pieces with glitter and another team would add embellishment using real tiny Swarovski crystals to bring out the “bling effect or the magical effect of the city.” Lastly, each completed artwork gets a certificate of authenticity.
These artworks vary in scale, from very small pieces to huge detailed artworks depending on the actual artwork. Fazzino also does hand-painted helmets for the NFL and MLB. During the Superbowl, Fazzino would showcase his football collection during the event. Similar to the Superbowl, Fazzino would also showcase his collection during the MLB All-Star event. Besides sports, he also does, what he calls, entertainment artworks that feature pop culture references like a Storm Trooper helmet.
When asked how he wants people to feel or experience his artworks, he said that he wants his artworks to make viewers feel lighthearted, feel good, or emote any positive feeling. He also encourages people to see his artworks in person to truly appreciate the beauty and workmanship done to the artwork. To check out his next events or where to find his artwork, visit his website at https://www.fazzino.com/ or check out his Instagram @fazzinopopart.
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