Raoul Deleo is a Dutch Illustrator. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Tilburg and Rotterdam, and his work has featured in publications such as Playboy Magazine, Cosmopolitan and a large number of respected Dutch magazines.
He agreed to be interviewed for the
< How long have you been working professionally as an Illustrator?
> For seven years.
< Do you accept any brief that comes your way or are you able to "pick and choose"?
> Fortunately, it 's possible for me to choose only the assignments that I really like doing.
< Do you do all your work on the computer?
> When I graduated I painted with acrylics. After two and a half years painting I decided that it was time for me to explore some other techniques. My painting style was at that time very succesful but I was fed up with it. That's when I bought a computer. Slowly I used the computer more and more, until virtually I did everything on the computer. This also bored me in the end and now I'm trying to combine traditional and digital techniques.
< Your work demonstrates a wide variety of techniques and styles. Do you think it is important to have a distinct style that Art Directors can easily recognize or do you approach each commission with an open mind as to which direction it may go?
And is having a recognisible style a neccessary thing for an illustrator?
> I think at first art directors will maybe have more confidence in you when you show them one distinct style with high quality. But in the long run there is a big chance that clients want something different for a change. I've never had a specific style or technique that I worked in, because I am just very quickly bored with what I'm doing. So in order to keep it all interesting for me I try to create my next illustration completely different from the previous one. Mostly this will happen automaticly because my next brief is different from the previous one and I let my ideas and solutions for a certain brief determine which style or technique I'm going to use.
The constant factor that I try to keep in my work rather than a distinct style is a good concept/idea and an overall feel of quality. And I think that will also trigger the attention of Art Directors.
< You have in your short time here in Australia been exposed to some of the workings of the local industry. What do you think of what you have seen?
> I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed by what I've seen. In the beginning when I just arrived it was very hard for me to find any examples of illustrations at all. I have the feeling that illustrators have a very low profile here. Eventualy I managed to find the address of the Illustrators Association of Australia and some agencies, but most of the quality that I saw was really low. Either in creativity or in technique. A lot of illustrators seem to copy their American heroes or the styles that Art Directors want and sell good. I saw some embarrassing examples of illustrators copying the work of J.Otto.Seibold and Lane Smith. The question is, are the illustrators responsible for doing this or is it the Art Directors who commision the work who have no creative ideas of their own.
< You are based in Rotterdam in the Nethelands. Do you have a rep to help you get work further afield or is your client base mostly in Holland?
> I have a rep but still I also visit clients myself. Most of my clients are based in Holland.
< Are rates fair in Holland? Can you make a decent living?
> There's a big difference between editorial and commercial work. Editorial pays much less but most of the times gives you the freedom to do what you want yourself. For me it's the stage to show art directors my skills, ideas and styles. Most of my commercial briefs are triggered by my editorial work. This combination makes it possible for me to make a decent living.
< You were responsible for the design of the ArtBox site. Do you think that digital illustrators should try to broaden their skill base and become more involved in these sort of projects or does this brings them into the area traditionally preserved for designers. Is just "making the picture" part of the equation not enough for a digital illustrator these days?
< I think it is important for an illustrator to keep informed of whats happening in the field. I think that because of the possibilities of the computer the boundaries between illustration, graphic design, photography, animation and film are fading. As a consequence this will affect the way illustration is seen and considered. Every illustrator for him/herself has to determine if he/she wants to support this development, but I think because of an illustrators highly developed visual skill and insight he/she is perfectly capable to explore those new areas. Especially because the world is becoming increasingly more visual and traditional print is overwhelmed by digital techniques that combine images with motion and sound.
<Do you have an Association or Guild for illustrators in the Netherlands? Does it provide any benefit to it's members?
>Yes, we have. In a way it does. It tries to set standards in prices and organises a yearly exhibition to draw the attention of art directors. A year ago it has merged with the Association of Graphic Design(BNO). And I think that was a really good decision. It confirms my ideas of the fading of boundaries between all the visual design fields. Now it organises discussions about subjects like "innovation" that might push illustration to a higher level and a two day conference is being organised with the name "Color Bites" with lectures by international visual designers.
< Who or what are some of the influences on you work?
> I try to keep up with whatever is going on in the visual field. And although I like the work of a few illustrators I mostly look for inspiration in other areas like Modern Art, Graphic Design, Photography, Film and Animation. Japanese Manga used to inspire me a lot and a British design company called The Designers Republic. But for now I just collect any image that I like and this collection all together often gives me an idea for a "new" style or technique.
< Do you consider illustration to be "decoration" or part of the editorial process, where opinions can and should be expressed in a work?
>I definitely consider illustration as a part of the editorial process, equal to the text in a magazine or ad.
< Can you tell us a little about the work you are creating about you travels which you described as being "journalistic". Is this a self motivated project or has someone commissioned it?
> I work a lot for a glossy magazine called Rails that is distributed in the trains of the Dutch Railway System. You can compare it with the magazines you find in airplanes but the contents is not as boring. It's a fresh and young contemporary magazine with an art director (Pieter Schol) that I love to work with because he gives me a lot of freedom. After a few years working for him I suggested together with an illustrator-friend that it would be nice to illustrate the travel reportage-articles instead of have them accompanied with photographs/pictures. It took a while to convince him and the editor in chief but finally we were sent to the USA to visit seven cities that had a link to a specific music style (New Orleans-Jazz, Los Angeles- Gangsta Rap, Seatle- Grunge...) We had to summarise the atmosphere of each city in an illustration. The article was a success and now once in a while I'm sent by the magazine to a country that they want to write an article about.
The last article I did for them was about a train journey with the Eastern Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok. I took a lot of pictures during the journey and later on combined them with graphic elements.
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