In this eleventh edition of ‘Spotlight’ I want to introduce you to the horror inspired, hand drawn collages by American illustrator Renzo Razzetto. Renzo uses a very interesting yet time-consuming technique: stippling. I love the look of stippled illustrations, and can image it takes days before you shaded a piece with all those little dots! The result is worth it though, the technique gives his works an eerie, film-noir grain which suits the subject of his work perfectly. I asked Renzo to share some insights with you on his technique, the inspiration for his work and his fascination for old films. Enjoy!
Bleaq: Could you introduce yourself and your work in a few sentences?
RR: My name is Renzo Razzetto and I’m a self-taught illustrator that creates pen-and-ink style collages using a technique called stippling. The central themes in my work are horror, eroticism and the occult, all of which are heavily influenced by silent Expressionist cinema.
When did you get into illustration? Did you have a specific moment when you knew that illustration was a career path you’d like to follow?
RR: It always felt like that was going to be the eventual outcome. I was exposed to art at a very young age. My father used to draw and paint and my older brother got into drawing at an early age, so naturally that made me want to pick up a pencil and try it out for myself. I soon discovered that drawing gave me the freedom to create and say anything I pleased. It was a real life changer. I decided that illustration was something that I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, so choosing it as a career was just the next step.
You have a very interesting technique: your work consists of collage style compositions, black ink on white paper and all stippled. Can you tell us a bit more about this technique and why you like to work this way?
RR: Stippling is a very time-consuming method of inking as you have to use hundreds of thousands of very fine dots to create shading and texture. But it was the technique I found gave me the results I was looking for. Before I got serious about stippling I had tried working with watercolors, colored pencils, markers, painting with acrylics, but for some reason I couldn’t get into colors. I’ve always been interested in black-and-white movies as well as black-and-white photography, so to me stippling was the closest I could get to achieving that monochrome photo-realistic look. It was also a technique that I didn’t have to try very hard to master. I never picked up a book or tried studying it. It was just something that came naturally.
There are some recurring themes in your work: films (mainly film noir and vintage horror) and the subject of dreaming. Can you tell us a bit more about how these themes influence your work, and maybe about other themes that are important to you as an artist?
RR: You’re right. Cinema has always influenced my work, especially German Expressionist cinema, which both the horror and film noir genres were heavily influenced by. Expressionist films were extremely visual, using lighting and exaggerated sets to create symbolic, dreamlike scenarios. And in a way, that is how I like to approach my illustrations, too – as dreams. As a collection of subconscious ideas, images and emotions capable of transforming our perception of reality.
Who are your favorite artists? How do they inspire your work?
RR: Japanese artist Suehiro Maruo is one of my all time favorites. His manga and paintings are just fascinating. The way in which he combines horror with violence and eroticism into his beautifully crafted surreal stories is just phenomenal. He is someone whose work has inspired me a great deal. You should definitely check his work out. Another of my favorites is the Czech Surrealist Jindrich Styrsky. I really love his photo-montages. I’m also a great admirer of the collage work of Max Ernst and Akbar del Piombo.
It’s probably like asking parents which of their kids they like best, but do you have a piece or pieces from your work that you like best? If so, why that one?
RR: Tough question. To me each piece will have something special that I’ll like, so for me to pick an individual piece I’d consider my favorite would be too difficult. Lately, I’ve been working on a collage novel project and there are many pieces I like. I guess I wouldn’t know how to answer that.
With many social networking websites it’s almost hard to keep track of everything! How important is the internet for you as an artist?
RR: Just last year I got into Twitter and Facebook, so I’m kind of new at social networking. I also have a blog and portfolio site which I try to update as soon as I have any new work done. It can be very time-consuming trying to keep all these sites up to date, though. But the internet has helped spread my work around, and it’s a tool that when used correctly can help your artistic career tremendously.
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
RR: Lately I’ve been going back and checking the work of Jean “Moebius” Giraud. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. One of his books that I’ve recently been going through is titled “Griffes d’Ange” in which he worked in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky. Worth checking out!
Bleaq: That’s all for today! A big thank you goes out to Renzo for being willing to share his work on Bleaq and tell us about his inspiration and interesting technique. Thank you all for reading! What do you think of Renzo’s work? Have a nice weekend!