Ricardo Cavolo

Born in his father’s painting studio in Spain and brought up in a world of painting, drawing and colour, effectively with an Art Teacher at home, Ricardo Cavalo was destined for a life centred around pictures! He studied Fine Arts at University and became Art Director at several advertising agencies before realising that his distinct, colourful tattooed beings and iconography should be shown to the world and now works as a professional illustrator, living in Brighton.

He has done commercial illustrations for Y&R, Leo Burnett, Urban Outfitters, Converse, Nike and multiple magazines, has had books published in Spain and designed and illustrated a Tarot card deck. 101 Artists to Listen to Before you Die for Nobrow is his first book in English.

To find out a little more about his work, we asked Ricardo to answer the following questions:

What inspires your work?

 The main subject of my work is people. I like to talk about people and their lives through complex portraits with so many details for completing the whole biography. I pretend that life story with drawings, so people can read it through all those details based on the portrait of the person. More specifically, I want to talk about the lives of people that aren’t normal, people from the b-side of life, outsiders at some point. I want them to be in a proper place and to show the rest of people that lives from that part of life are as valuable and special as the ‘regular’ ones or even better and more interesting.

I use anything as inspiration, or course. But my main sources of inspiration are outsider art, folk art, lowbrow, medieval art and tribal art. When I need some new ideas or ways to explain something by drawing, I go to these styles to get the key.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I always need to work with my hands. My work process is old school, sketches with pencil on paper and final pieces worked with calligraphy inks and brushes on paper. I need to work with the risk of doing it wrong and not having the control + Z choice. That makes the process more interesting. I think that if I’m enjoying my process, people will enjoy the final piece. At the same time I like to work fast, of course, I want to take care of all the details with all the time it needs, but usually I have the ideas pretty clear in my mind before I start with the pencil. This lets me work fast and at the same time add new details and ‘to play’ while I’m working on it.