I stumbled across the photography of Ruadh DeLone and was instantly struck — both by the inherent disturbing nature of some of his themes, and the adept skill with which he captures his subjects. There’s obviously some post-production Photoshop wizardry performed on some images, but they are not tricks to hide flaws but rather techniques to bring what’s in his mind’s eye to the pixel and paper before you. DeLone grew up in a small village in The Netherlands, a solitary existence that inspired him to draw every day. “Most of the time I spent with my sketchbook and pencils creating things which were not in the real world,” he explains. That isolation has definitely influenced some of his darker work, but it’s not all implied faces of death and sick children — his Faces of History project shows a more whimsical expression. But we’ll just let him explain…
So how has your hometown influenced your art?
Because nothing exciting happened and it was a kind of a dull place I created fantasy things on paper. So in a way I am thankful that the hometown was a bit dull otherwise the need for drawing and creating things would not be so big.
Is it fair to say that your stuff is a bit morbid? I think it might scare some people.
I guess that’s right. People often call it a bit disturbing and I am aware of that. In a way the normal life is not enough for me so I create those disturbing things. On the other hand I also make fresh and normal images for some publishers, or when I feel like.
What’s your first memory of monsters? Is it a warm, positive memory or a frightening memory?
A frightening one. Couldn’t sleep at all after seeing The Hulk for the first time. The only monster I liked a lot was Dracula. I found the story extremely romantic and interesting as a child.
That’s funny — another designer we interviewed earlier also has a Hulk obsession. Do you think monsters have influenced your art profoundly?
I think Dracula did in a way. But later on other artists like Gottfried Helnwein and David Bowie influenced me a lot. They also have some monster-like themes. Also writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Bukowski have influenced me.
“All you see in the images is human but still it scares us, and that to me is interesting. Mankind finds itself creepy I suppose.”
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
Can you tell me the inspiration for the Vergänglichkeiten portfolio? Is it a suffocation theme?
Verganglichkeiten has nothing to do with suffocation but with the fact that we are all mortal but are trying to extend our lives as long as possible. The plastic covers are a symbol for keeping the flesh together. It was also a test if people would find it scary, and they did because they could see the skeleton faces shining through. In fact we all have that skeleton face underneath but it is only covered with skin. I mean: all you see in the images is human but still it scares us, and that to me is interesting. Mankind finds itself creepy I suppose.
And what about Hospital Room and Das Leid? It seems to me there’s a motif of injury or death — or maybe just pain.
Das Leid was inspired by the fact there are a lot of young kids dying of cancer and other horrible diseases. The medical world is always trying to give them a life as long as possible and that gives us hope, but there will always be a point in the treatment that the medical efforts will mean suffering and hope is fading away. Instead of the disease the treatment becomes Das Leid ["the suffering"] at a certain point. Hospital Room is a collection of some absurd images dealing about amputations etc.
Wow, that is really intense subject matter — I think many artists would shy away from that, to be honest. With so much of your work referencing pain or death, a quick assumption might be that your house must be filled with gothic trinkets, death metal posters and knick-knacks made of body parts and skeletons. Can you either support that suspicion or tell me why I’m crazy?
No not all. I have a very ordinary home with very little things in it. I like things clean and straight. They only live in my mind.
Can you tell me a bit about your technique?
Every image is processed in PhotoShop and I am fond of the burn/dodge tool and often desaturate the color tones. I don’t follow a uniform workflow but always act impulsive in the post processing.
Who are your design and/or art heroes?
Painters I really love are Carel Willink and Gottfried Helnwein. In photography I like to watch at the works of Erwin Olaf, Oleg Dou and Jim Fiscus.
How do you overcome creative block?
When it appears I have learned not to focus on it. Just let it go and have peace with it; forcing it means it will not come. When you let go of it it’ll return to you like a boomerang.
What has been your proudest professional achievement?
Some work I’ve done for publishers and in my personal work, Verganglichkeiten and Faces Of History.
Faces Of History
What was the first piece of art you saw that you think really influenced your personal aesthetic?
The whole collection of the great painter Carel Willink was a great wow for me. Later on the works of Gottfriend Helnwein took my breath away.
Have you seen any exceptional design work over the last year?
To me the work of Michael Kutsche (character designer/illustrator). A man who also worked on the characters of Tim Burton’s movie Alice In Wonderland. A great talent.
Lastly, if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you in?
The cold stores where they keep vegetables and meat.