Multidisciplinary artist Orfeo Tagiuri always wanted to study medicine at college, but he did a full circle and ended up enrolling in the creative writing and English literature program at Stanford University.
“In having being raised and educated in such a logical space, even my emotional delivery was quite logical; getting to do writing made realize this was a vehicle for re-accessing an emotional space,” says Tagiuri, wearing a navy blue sweater with a safety pin pinned on the right-hand side of his chest as he blends into the deep-blue cushioned sofa of The Palomar restaurant and his copper ginger hair catches the light ever so slightly.
It was at the end of his first relationship that he had a big realization.
“We had a huge argument and then when we were lying down together, I remember thinking ‘that one thing she or I said would actually be so beautiful as part of a story.’ I woke up and walked out of the room to go and write a bit of it,” he says of the moment, which has made him see things objectively.
Tagiuri writes, photographs and creates art from his small studio in west London, but when it comes to taking notes, he’s a scribbler and cartoon drawer.
“A year and a bit ago, I decided I wanted to try and get into The New Yorker, which I kind of gave up on quite quickly. But I made 1,000 drawings. I was posting them on Instagram and a publisher reached out to me asking if I wanted to turn it into a book, so we narrowed it down to 400,” he says.
The hand drawings in “Little Passing Thoughts Book,” published by Chose Commune, are quirky with witty captions explaining the illustrations. In one showing a tree with two hanging fruits, one skinny and the other plump, the caption reads, “In fruit the fat kid always gets picked first.”
“I had really no idea what I was doing. I pinballed because I was surrounded by the most celebrated people in every field,” says Tagiuri of his life after college, following which he went on to become a documentary researcher for a director who was making a film about death and the afterlife.
The documentary took five years to complete, by which point he had already left his job with the director.
Tagiuri’s opinion on death is that when one dies they dissolve into particles that then become something else.
“I think I’ll become a seashell. In my drawing sometimes water seems to be an allegory for the emotional space within us,” he says.
He staged a wood carvings exhibition, “Thoughts to fall asleep to,” at the Sapling gallery in London in 2021, where he sketched over pieces of wood and then carved it out to create images of a cottage in the night with a smoking chimney; an animal resembling a hammer-headed bat eating nails with a glass of wine and a dying flower.
One of the businesses that Tagiuri has been growing since 2019 is Wish Cards, where postcards with unique imagery — either created by himself or sourced from vintage markets — are decorated with a single candle wick, a matchstick and a small bar of red phosphorus.
The idea is to light the candle wick and make a wish, almost like Aladdin with the genie and the lamp.
It was at the birthday party of his housemate that the concept struck as a result of forgetting to buy a birthday cake.
The Wish Cards started to rapidly sell on Instagram, which he took a short pause from and has returned to since.
The cards feature poetic images from mosaic art, landscape imagery, animals and zodiac signs.
“Everything can be poetic, but you have to make the effort to see it as such,” says Tagiuri, who manages to see the beauty in everything.