Hold Tight

Artwork by Graphic Design student Davide Provasi adorns a major Old Street development. In an interview, he discusses how he developed it and what it means to him.

Date: 19 May 2022

A design by Graphic Design student Davide Provasi has been selected by property development company Ghelamco to adorn the hoardings of a new building project, The Arc on City Road.

The artwork, Hold Tight, came following a brief given to students to work with local community groups they have been liaising with such as Old Street Partnership and the developer.

Approximately 22 million people go through Old Street Station each year, making Davide’s art highly visible to Londoners and those visiting the city. This also offers a unique opportunity to raise money for Stonewall, through a QR code which has been placed on the hoardings alongside Davide’s design.  

In this interview, Davide discusses how he came to develop the project and what it means to him.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into art? 

I am 22, Italian, have two brothers and my formative education was at an economics school. I moved to London in 2019 and went to London Met University where I studied graphic design and visual communication. I soon learned I did not want to sit behind a desk, I wanted to be an art director. 

Why did you make this piece of art?

The project means a lot to me, I was assigned this project during the pandemic when I was in lockdown with my flatmates. Everyone was going through the same emotions, missing their families,  and missing the physical touch of their loved ones. I also thought it was important to add diversity by using people from different cultures, races, and genders.  

I knew that the building where my artwork would be shown was on Old Street in London. In this area, I always felt unsafe as a member of the LGBTQI+ group. I would tell myself if I don’t feel okay, ‘just hold tight.’ I think today London is much more welcoming of the LGBTQI+ community and many more people are becoming more open and accepting of it. However, in some areas, I still do not feel as safe, so I know there is still a long way to go.  

What inspires you as an artist? 

At University, I always felt different from the rest of the class, and I wasn't as interested in Graphic  Design as I thought, but I loved the creative and art direction side of projects. I have worked hard to  develop all the skills that were necessary to better myself as an art director and this is the path that I want to pursue after graduating. I am into the world of entertainment too, in fact, I am currently  working on a concept-visual-audio project that will be out soon. I have a passion for fashion, and I  always try to mix that side of me within my artistic life. I love discovering new and niche brands to  wear. Coming from an economic and financial school, I tend to have a business mind and one of my  dreams for the future is to have my own brand and of course, be the creative director of it. I always  said that it will go under my surname as I want to bring in my family name.  

How did you create this piece of art, and what does it mean to you?

As this artwork was created through lockdown, I did not have many materials or tools to use at  hand. Everything I used was low budget, including the production set. All I had in my flat was a camera and my flatmates.  

This piece means the world to me and was my turning point as a designer. As I created this piece  in my flat alone, I had the freedom to take over every direction and was not influenced by others. As I was not at university, I was free to follow my own vision and instincts. I have always felt different to  others around me, and not good enough in a sense, but when my piece of art was chosen for the  scaffolding cover for Ghelamco, it gave me a great amount of confidence. 

Before lockdown, I was going through a tough time, and I decided to get tattooed on my hands ‘guts’ and ‘glory’ as a reminder of that day. When the project was done, I felt like it was the perfect moment and it all made sense.

How did your partnership with Ghelamco start? 

When I heard Ghelamco was involved with the project, I was more than excited as I know they are  a large company, and it is usually quite rare for a big company to want to work with students and choose a piece of artwork that shows complete diversity.