Welcome to CR City!

Talk to any creative about how they first became interested in art, design or advertising and they will likely tell you an anecdote from their childhood. Maybe it was a picture book or a painting they were shown that caught their attention and made them think a little bit differently about the world, or a cartoon or film that sparked wild imaginative thoughts that have stayed with them forever.

One of the first pieces of artwork that I can remember really drawing me in was the cover of a copy of the Beatles’ Revolver that my parents showed me. I love the music on it now but was less bothered about that at the time – it was the packaging that mattered, that amazing, multi-headed collage and drawing. I stared at it for what seemed like hours but was probably ­minutes, and promptly claimed it, scrawling my name in one of the white spaces.

Another strong visual influence from that time was Richard Scarry, the US author and illustrator that inspired this series of ­drawings, created for CR by illustrator and cartoonist Giacomo Gambineri. Scarry created his fictional Busytown in the early 60s and it spawned a series of books, TV shows, a video game and a board game. The quirky charm of the town’s characters, which include the Cat Family, the Pig ­Family, Lowly Worm, Goldbug, and many more, ­remain appealing to this day.

The sun always shines in CR Town!

“When asked what my inspirations are, I usually provide a list of names with Richard Scarry in the upper spot,” says Gambineri. “I’m convinced that all the evenings spent in the company of his books played a crucial role in my desire to draw for a living. Even when I don’t consciously aim for it, I feel his propensity towards rich urban scenes (garnished with his cutaway building compulsion) oozing pleasurably in my work.”

As the title of his most famous series suggests, Scarry’s scenes are populated with an enormous amount of action, and it is this “encyclopedic nature of his world” that particularly attracts Gambineri. “When asked to design something for this feature about creativity, the little Richard Scarry on my shoulder – I’m talking about the angelic one, I refer to his nefarious comrade on the other side of the neck as Dick Scary – whispered ‘cutout models’,” he continues. “Of course! I could draw a model city like the one featured in his Best Rainy Day Book Ever and inspire the reader in a very immediate and pragmatic way.

“Then, at the apex of my enthusiasm, I heard it: the subdued, sinister giggle of Dick Scary. He was right, a model sheet would have meant asking the reader simply to build, not to create…. But we set aside our differences and started sketching while the montage music started in the background. Me and the ­Scarrys, nodding and crumpling paper…. Maybe this will ­inspire some kid somewhere to pursue a career.”

The results of Gambineri’s ideas can be seen below, and high-res versions of his drawings are available to download here and create. We’d love it if you build your own CR Town, and please share it with us on Twitter or Instagram.

CR Town: The Houses
CR Town: the vehicles
CR Town: The shops