Raphaël Vicenzi is a Belgian illustrator living in Brussels, Belgium.
His work has been featured in magazines such as Computer Arts, Advanced Photoshop, Rockpile and Idea Design, as well as in books about contemporary illustration. His art blends digital media and watercolor with furious doodles, female figures and typography.
He is presently represented by Colagene. He has collaborative branding with Graniph, String Republic and Ride Snowboard. He has been published in Taschen 100 Illustrators, Artbox Japan, Taschen Illustration Now 3 and represents clients worldwide.
Raphaël desribes himself as a “self-taught illustrator from Belgium, Brussels. I take my inspiration from fashion, street art, graphic design,art, typography, books, music & my personal life. When I am not working on an illustration my unconscious is processing information about moods, colors and shapes for the next one.”
How is life for you in Brussels, Belgium!
It’s good. Can’t complain. Would not mind to move away for a while though.
I discovered your Collages on Behance. Can you tell us more about this work and how it is produced ?
I always loved collages works so I tried to make my own. They’re digital at the moment but perhaps they’ll be purely analog at some point. Still, they’re scanned images, textures, bits and pieces gathered around that I rework in photoshop.
I can try many variations before committing to the final layout and usually, pieces of one work end up in another one and make up series. I let many random happy mistakes come up within my works and I use them to push the work into a new direction or just complete what’s already done.
There is an internal logic to my works that I would have difficulties to describe fully. One thing leads to another, one colour to the next, they’re like pieces of a puzzle I don’t know about until I find the right way, for me, to place them together. Sometime it does not work no matter how hard I try and it’s best to leave it aside, perhaps the elements will be reused in another work. I think I am always searching for the right mood or emotion that speaks to me while I am working otherwise, it’s just mechanical work, without a soul.
How would you describe your art and illustrations?
I don’t know really, they’re just my personal thoughts and moods under a visual form. They’re the snapshots of my inner landscape. Perhaps if you look at them you’ll find pieces of yourself reflected in them or you may just enjoy looking at them.
I am not into describing what I do to give it a deeper meaning, they’re intimate pieces to me and it’s already a lot to share them with the whole world. I can bare my soul without anyone necessarily knowing what I am talking about.
Some of your work reminds me of refined street art and fashion. Did you ever venture into street art?
Not really. I should print my works in large and wheat paste them on walls though. I am certainly influenced by street art in general and I tried to apply those techniques into my own works, just for fun mostly.
How has your work influenced the fashion industry? How do you secure commissions for your works?
I don’t think my works have influenced the fashion industry but I am certainly influenced by the fashion designers and the editorial pictures. The thing is, you’re never sure if you’re going to get commissions or not. My agency, Colagene, helps a lot in this regard but I’ve seen many requests coming in from behance.
You describe yourself as “self taught”. When did you first begin in illustration and when did you decide to take this to the next level and consider art as a career?
Yes, I did not follow any artistic studies at all. I was just really passionate about art in general. Around 15 years ago I learned photoshop & illustrator by myself mostly, checking a tutorial, reading an article and trying to figure out how other artists were doing their work. Just enough to start doing illustrations and keep improving.
I did not plan it to become a career although I wanted to find a purpose in my life. Joining my illustration agency was a really big boost for me in terms of pushing my works in other directions and learn how to understand a brief and learn from my mistakes.
Your artistry is exquisite. Do you employ any use of photography in your works?
Only when I do the collage works, they’re scanned images. I also use a lot of my own textures made from paint, markers, watercolors… that I rework in Photoshop. I experiment a lot while working and trying different shapes or composition until something seems to fall right into place.
Can you tell us about your collaborative brands with Graniph, String Republic and Ride Snowboard?
Oh they’re really old old collaborations. Graniph was one of the first company who bought my works for T-shirts. String republic who was selling “espadrilles” was also a good sign that my works could be sold. Ride snowboard was OK as well, I remember that I did not get how to interpret the brief correctly though but I did not have much experience back then.
Where did you come up with the title line “MyDeadPony”?
It comes from an old picture of me being three or four years old, sitting on a white pony, I was pulling the face because I was so scared of this “huge” beast. When I found the picture back many years later, it reminded me of how I grew up and how the pony was probably dead since a long time. I picked up the nickname to register over at deviant art at the time and the name stuck. I thought about changing it a million time but I am too lazy to change it now.
Raphaël Vicenzi, best known as Mydeadpony, is a self-taught artist from Brussels, Belgium whose illustration and watercolour techniques are highly influenced by fashion, street art and graffiti. Combining digital media with more traditional paint, sketch and watercolor stylings, he creates immensely complex and modern imagery. (Courtesy: Eyes on the Wall)