Under her alias Ciao Chiara, East London-based, English-Italian artist Chiara Perano paints bold yet deft illustrations that capture the relaxed, sun-filled culture of the Mediterranean. From her favourite aperitivos to some very pleasingly drawn words and phrases, her new framed wall art collection for Papier means you can now infuse your home with some holiday spirit. That’s something we can certainly drink to right now. Salute!
I’m half-Italian, and my family is from just south of Naples, so I have spent a lot of my life in this part of the world. I lived on the south Amalfi Coast very close to the sea. I love the language and I adore la dolce vita lifestyle, the idea of sharing happiness with others, and enjoying the quiet and small moments in life. This culture is a huge inspiration, as are the decorative arts and colours of the Mediterranean, and the wall art collection tries to embrace this.
When trying to define my style I looked at what was really personal to me: specific memories of warm, long, fruity summers, with lots of al fresco dining, family get-togethers and a huge emphasis on food and drink. I tried to bring my influences together in a modern way, often using lettering inspired by the golden age of travel posters and handcrafted design.
With my previous studio Lamplighter I created bespoke stationery, which incorporated modern calligraphy but also illustrations and personalised artwork. So for me, this is just an evolution of my work. I didn’t plan to become a calligrapher. I studied illustration at university but the calligraphy side of my business just boomed, and I never got a chance to do much illustrating! Whilst I absolutely love calligraphy and lettering, I decided to step back from the stationery side of things to develop my own creative style.
I have always wanted to create art and decorative items for interiors. The idea that people have a connection with my work so much they want to display it in their homes fills me with joy. I am currently working on a range of hand-painted vases and tiles, as well as the original artwork and prints, but it still features a lot of lettering – painted with a brush.
When picking art for my home I’m instinctively drawn to art and illustrations. I’m obsessed with colours that work harmoniously together, and our home has quite a natural and laid back feel. Sometimes I might frame an old travel poster or advertisement with a cool drawing. I love things to remind me of beautiful places we’ve visited, or offer a magical look into an artist's interpretation. Often I’ll see something and think, 'that would work beautifully in that spot'. Then I’ll have to move everything around to accommodate it, but that’s the fun part.
Ciao Chiara’s Perfect Negroni Recipe
Another Vermouth recommendation? Punt e Mes
35ml equal measures, mix and chill the liquids together, then strain into a nice tumbler with large ice cubes. It’s simple but perfect. I have some large ice moulds which don’t dilute into the drink as quickly and look amazing. When you’re peeling the orange to garnish it, the spritz and aroma creates the perfect sweet finish. And we have about 4 or 5 different vermouths, each make such a different Negroni flavour, we tried them all to see which made our favourite! I love Antica Formula, for me it makes the perfect Negroni. But for a slightly sweeter taste I also rate Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino which gives a slightly pinker take on the drink.
I love pairing the perfect drink with the right setting! For me right now my dream would be to enjoy a Spritz with some simple, salty, fried zeppole at a small bar in Praiano (on the Amalfi Coast) where you can sit on the terrace and watch the sunset until the little lights flicker on across the mountain. Very romantic with my husband.
My lockdown aperitivo has been a Negroni Sbagliato (a lighter version of a Negroni using Prosecco instead of gin) or a glass of Provence Rosé. The weather has been amazing, and after we’ve put the baby to bed is the perfect time to enjoy one – and try to relax a bit.
Lockdown as a working mum has been quite a tricky adjustment. Between working and childcare we are non-stop from wake-up to bedtime. My idea of productivity and priority has changed and we have to work to a routine for any hope of getting things done during a working day. Luckily my studio is at home, so I have been able to create some artwork and keep kind of on top of things, but most of my commissioned work was cancelled when lockdown happened, so I’ve had to pivot my approach slightly. I’m just trying to find the positives in it for us, to keep a happy home.
Lift your space with Ciao Chiara's new collection of beautiful framed prints.