Simone Legno

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Simone Legno
Born Simone Legno
(1977-06-16) June 16, 1977 (age 39)
Rome, Italy
Residence Los Angeles and Japan
Nationality Italian
Occupation Artist
Graphic designer
Years active 2000–present
Employer tokidoki
Known for tokidoki
Spouse(s) Fiancé Kaori Matsumoto

Simone Legno (born June 16, 1977) is an Italian artist best known for the creation of the tokidoki brand. Legno's designs are influenced by his interest in Japan and its culture, as well as street art and graffiti.


After dropping out of Political Science, Simone Legno studied at the European Institute of Design in Rome.[1]Legno built tokidoki as a personal website, not a company website, around 2001.[1] Later, he was approached due to his interesting design approach.


Legno's portfolio website was listed as one of the top ten websites of the week by The Independent in 2003.[2] This caught the attention of Hard Candy co-founder Pooneh Mohajer and her husband Ivan Arnold. The two contacted him and after meeting, they formed the tokidoki business venture.[citation needed]

In June 2009 it was announced that Legno would release a line of young punk rock inspired characters that would sell at the US-based retailer Target.[citation needed]

Why Tokidoki?[edit]

When Legno was in school, he wanted his own website and was into Japanese art and culture. He would go to Japanese cultural institutes and all of his art works were inspired by books from Lonely Planet, prints, Japanese art books and posters, everything was about Japan.[1] So he wanted a Japanese word and really liked the word "tokidoki", which means "sometimes".[3]

"tokidoki is the hope, the hidden energy that everyone has inside. It gives us the strength to face a new day and dream about something positive and the hope that something magical will happen to us".[3]

Artistic medium[edit]

It starts as an illustration or a sketch and then he scans it. If he's too lazy to scan it, he takes a photo with his laptop camera. Sometimes he just shoots it with his phone and sends it to his email. His works are then computer generated. His other works are created with acrylic or pencil and canvas.[4]



Growing up in Rome, Legno was always drawn to the Japanese culture, and his work reflects this passion. Simone Legno is a classically trained Italian illustrator and "a world renowned artist that could illustrate just about anything beautifully because he has exceptional talent".[5] Legno's artistic empire started when he was still in school in [Italy], where he created a website as a "visual diary and platform to showcase his portfolio of works".[6] With this website he created various illustrations, advertisements, designs, and other freelance media for clients.[3] He was then discovered and presented a partnership by Pooneh Mohajer and her husband Ivan Arnold — co-founders of the American cosmetics brand Hard Candy.[6] In 2004, Simone Legno moved to Los Angeles to develop his tokidoki merchandise and art, where he launched his artistic career with the help of his 2 business partners (Ivan Arnold and Pooneh Mohajer Arnold).[3] Simone Legno has definitely surprised the contemporary world with an art collection which is "cute, playful and pure, yet provocative, [and] sophisticated. . .".[3]


Legno's most popular work consists of a compilation of sassy yet lovable characters such as the "Moofia", "Cocomando", "Wild Boys", "'Til Death Do Us Part", and "Cactus Friends".[5] These characters have been designed with a quirky energy which is responsible for their popularity, appeal, and connection with the viewer. All of these artworks feature personified cows, tigers, and monkeys, or Japanese inspired characters in cheerily clad outfits of upbeat color and intention. Even the most morbid of these creations – "'Til Death Do Us Part", which features the grim reaper and his sweetheart, hosts optimism and cuteness which could only be created by an avid follower of Japanese anime and manga. Legno also creates striking acrylic on canvas works featuring "more modern, fashionable versions of the women found on classic Japanese woodblock prints".[7] These works show the sweet elegance which has been handed down from the classically portrayed Japanese women to their modern counterparts, while also granting contemporary sex appeal and edginess.[7] These paintings are much different from anime or manga works as the women reject the usual characteristics of big eyes and bigger breasts; instead, the ladies presented are graceful, natural, and enigmatic. Although Legno has explored many types of artistic media, the focus of his work has been illustration and painting.


Simone Legno has sought to create a fanciful world filled with kawaii (Japanese for "cute") characters that are both playful and provocative.[3] Some of his characters are dressed up "to point out in a symbolic way the wrong things of the world we live in".[3] Works such as the Moofia and Cactus Friends illustrate the combination of protective elements and vulnerable characters.[3] These adorably disconcerting characters lead the viewer to wonder how violence has become such an integrated part of our society. His paintings also hold a suggestion of social remark: featuring half-clothed cosmopolitan women in urban settings, everything seems beautiful until one takes in the burning city, the dancing skeletons, or the other allusions to death and destruction. Tokidoki, Legno's official brand, gets its name from the Japanese word for "sometimes", which Legno chose because, as he stated in an interview with Katie Maltby: "everyone waits for moments that change one's destiny…by chance or by meeting a new person…tokidoki is the hope, the hidden energy that everyone has inside, giving us the strength to face a new day and dream about something positive [and] that something magical will happen to us".[3] By this explanation, tokidoki fulfills its purpose by hosting sweet and inspiring characters filled with energy, mystery, hope, and humor.


Tokidoki is "[a] mixture of "visual inputs, cultures and perfect blending of opposites living together".[3] Tokidoki is a combination of Legno's Italian background, love for Japanese culture, and the urban glamour of his current LA residence.[citation needed]

Emerging recognition[edit]

Since relocating from Rome to Los Angeles, Legno's art has become prominent in the [pop culture] scene.[8] As stated by Legno: "Tokidoki is a happy world... that I imagine, live and dream of".[3]

Gallery representation[edit]

*Hong Kong, K11 Art Mall.[6]

  • Vinyl Toys, art-skateboards, pin badges, jewelry, watches, knitwear, sportswear, accessories, shoes, stationery and more to come.[9]
  • tokidoki distributes its products to Nordstrom, Macy's, Fred Segal, Karmaloop and approximately 1000 boutiques in more than 60 countries worldwide.[10]

Current projects[edit]

  • Plus 44 bus
  • Project Fox

*Volkswagen selected 21 young artists to create the Hotel Fox, an exclusive hotel based in Copenhagen

  • Simone designed 2 rooms, the Japanese garden and the tokidoki room.
  • [Mercedes Benz] Fashion Week[5]

Previous collaborations[edit]

The list of Legno's past clients includes Volkswagen, MTV, John Galliano, Champion, Toyota, Renault, Daihatsu, BenQ, Microsoft, Narcotic Bureau of Singapore, Telecom Italia, Karl Lagerfeld, LeSportsac, Onitsuka Tiger, Marvel Entertainment, New Era, Hello Kitty, Fujitsu, Levi's, Smashbox cosmetics, Xbox, T-mobile, Fornarina, Skullcandy, Mattel and Medicom Toy.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Yan, Marjorie. "Tokidoki creator Simone Legno to speak about his career as part of CEC's speaker series." The Daily Bruin, May 4, 2011.
  2. ^ Pro, Ash (2003-01-04). "10 Best Sites of the Week". The Independent: pp. Features p. 66. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Legno, Simone, interview by Katie Maltby. Kawai Connoisseur (2009).
  4. ^ Legno, Simone, interview by Carmen Lam. Simone Legno: tokidoki (2011).
  5. ^ a b c d "Tokidoki". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  6. ^ a b c Artitute. "Tokidoki Food Art Festival @K11 Hong Kong." Artitute, September 15, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Darwin, Liza. "THE INSIDERS: PAUL FRANK AND SIMONE LEGNO." Nylon, November 15, 2010.
  8. ^ High Speed Productions, Inc. "Simone Legno x Mikasa at GR2 Today." Juxtapoz, July 29, 2008.
  9. ^ "Revolutionart's guest for Ethnic edition: Simone Legno." Revolutionart, August 31, 2009.
  10. ^ "Tokidoki". Retrieved 2012-01-30.