Raphael Vicenzi is a self-taught illustrator from Brussels, Belgium. He has a very interesting style and technique, especially with his lines and colors. He includes an element of fashion in his illustrations and this lends a unique sense of appeal to his work. His illustrations are an inspiration and it was a pleasure to know more about him and his work.
Can you tell us a little bit of your background as an illustrator? How did you get started and where did you get your training?
It was by mistake and I am self-taught. I thought I would be a graphic designer or web designer but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I realized that I was doing illustration instead and I kept doing just that. I am a late bloomer. Honestly, I never thought I would make it, there were times where I wanted to give it all up because I wasn’t that good. I am still learning.
What is a day like for you? Does your work as an illustrator influence your daily life?
Well I live a pretty boring life but I like it. I wake up early and after a while I start to work on commissions or personal illustrations. I am constantly working, even if I am not on the computer, my mind is geared towards finding a new idea or seeing colours and patterns everywhere.
What tools/techniques do you use in creating your illustrations?
I scan a lot of watercolours, doodles, textures and then I work the whole in PS, with very few effects, PS brushes, masks, layer modes and that’s nearly it. I found that by limiting myself in this way I could work better and just try to get to the core of an idea. I admire people who possess great painting techniques though.
In your experience, what were the moments that you have struggled or had difficulty in coming up with a concept? How did you overcome/cope?
Sometimes it’s more that I have all these ideas but I can’t pull them out of my head in a nice way. The more I struggle to do something within a strict deadline the less it will be natural and it will feel forced. That does not mean that there is no hard work before but there is a tipping point where it all comes together. I don’t cope well with the creative block, I just clench my teeth until it’s over.
What is the role of fashion in your drawings? Do you consider it as an important element in your work?
I don’t know, it just made sense to me to use the fashion imagery and turn it into something else. I do appreciate how some fashion designers and photographers pay attention to details and create something really unique, despite that there are a lot of things that are really terrible in the fashion industry, especially how it impacts younger girls in making them believe that it’s the only ideal for femininity. I guess I had to take it all back somehow, put glitter and bones where they belong and give it a new more personal and intimate meaning.
I noticed that most of your work features women. How do they influence or inspire your work?
I guess it has to do with the creative principles of life. Although I don’t think men has not is place in my works. I am also very lazy to be honest. It also reflects a personal taste when it comes to art.
Which of your works can you say reflect you best as an artist/illustrator?
All of them, they’re all little pieces of me at certain point in time. My latest works are closer to what I think nowadays.
How did you come up with your signature style?
Step by step and very slowly but I was not aware of it. I don’t even really think that I have a signature style because to me it always evolves but within certain constrains. I think it all comes down to assimilate influences and making them mine somehow.
Are there other illustrator/artists who inspire your work?
A lot, I’ll name a few, Tom Bagshaw, Banksy, Daniel Egneus, Stina Persson, David Foldvari, Muscha and on and on…
What message can you give to other aspiring artists ?
Create beautiful works that are talking about who you are.