Waveloop: Ricardo Rodrigues On Art, CyberPunk, and Imagination.


"Be bold, be relentless, and work hard. Know that you can change your life any day, every day. Just listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, instead of your heart like everyone says. Your heart is dumb, and the voice in the back of your mind knows you a lot better." -Ricardo Rodrigues

Meet Portugal's Ricardo Rodrigues, (or perhaps better known as Waveloop) an artist creating excellent contemporary works by utilizing his love of popular entertainment.

Heavily influenced by anime and classic cinema, Ricardo has conjured up some interesting imagery that unifies elements of animation and CyberPunk for a nuanced aesthetic.

His admiration of the feminine form is on full display in his work and he doesn't shy away from nudity or sexuality. Don't let that connoisseurs of anodyne art though as it isn't distasteful or exploitative in the slightest. After glancing at pieces for some time, it becomes apparent that his depictions of female anatomy come from a place of genuine reverence.

"I just think the “feminine” and beauty hold hands in the most perfect way possible. I've always liked to draw the human body and the female body is just more interesting, beautiful, and elegant. I say that not only as a man, but as a conscious observer."

Ricardo is here to let us in on his history, artistic process, and some of his favorite works.

Prox: For people unfamiliar with you and your work, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved with art and when did you discover your talents?

Ricardo: There is no short answer for this question. I stared drawing when I was a kid. My brother was a comic book enthusiast. I use to watch him trace his favorite comic book characters and remember thinking to myself “that's cheating” so I started to draw the same characters without the tracing paper. That's how it started for me with the X-men, Spider-Man, Daredevil... etc. Eventually I started creating my own characters but drawing was always a hobby. I would have temporary bursts of obsession over drawing but it was very inconsistent so for a lot of years it was an “on and off” thing for me. I grew up in a time where you had to live according to a specific protocol; study, go to college, get a job, get married, etc. Art was not considered a good career choice so to please “everyone” drawing was always in the background of my priorities. My education is actually in Heath care, Occupational Therapy, neuroscience, things like that. I worked with kids with learning disabilities for more than a decade and I still maintain a private practice a few hours a week. It wasn't until I was around 28, that I decided to take art seriously. I am now 33.

Prox: Could you discuss the art scene in Portugal around the time you started gravitating towards art?

Ricardo: Entertainment art was always close to nonexistent in Portugal. It's more of a classical and fine arts type country if that makes sense. Very elitist and closed-minded. Apart from the occasional cover art for a band or private personal drawings, I never worked for Portuguese clients.

When I started to take art seriously as a carrier choice, I would always look for help, support, knowledge, critiques, and even networking online was always on foreign sites. I have almost no Portuguese friends or contacts in the art world. Even my following has very few Portuguese people. My clients are all from abroad. If it weren't for the internet, I would probably still be drawing just for myself as an hobby.

Prox: What do you think has the biggest impact on your aesthetics?

Ricardo: I can't identify a specific agent that objectively impacts the aesthetics of my work. I guess it always comes down to personal instinct and discernment, the aftermath of years of exposure and reasoning, and the influence of greater people. I think an artist will develop that naturally and organically over the years. Aesthetics certainly has some objective rules one can study, much like technique but the more you're exposed to visual language and information, the more you'll understand what works and what doesn't. In my opinion a vast visual library is one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of any visual artist. The Human Brain is very good at figuring out the nuances and complexity of things, and then filtering out the information into useful information for problem solving or creation. But when you zone out in front of a blank canvas, all that is working in the background. Like a soccer player dribbling pass a defender, he won't think of the motions, he just wants to get pass that defender.

Prox: There is a cool CyberPunk element in a lot of your pieces. Why did you decide to incorporate them into your work? What initially got you interested in anime, comics, and CyberPunk?

Ricardo: I was always a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy. I guess my big brother is to blame for that. I always liked the fantastic, and imaginary worlds. I grew up around comic books and things like Blade Runner, Star WarsAlien, Predator. Those were some of my brother's favorites, and the taste for it just got passed along to me. I was consuming things like that at a very young age and parental advisory was not that useful in the 80's and the 90's (lol). Eventually some Anime and Manga started to enter the country.

For a parent, Ninja Scroll is just a cartoon, it was sold in stores right next to Disney movies, and the Teletubbies. I got my hands on all the anime I could find. I was watching the likes of Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, when I was 13. I remember watching Neon Genesis Evangelion right after the Power Rangers in the cartoon marathon on Saturday mornings, that is not meant for kids, but it was what I was exposed to. You can say I grew up around this stuff, and it was inevitable for it to be part of who I am as an artist.

To completely answer the question, there is something to say about CyberPunk, War, or Post-Apocalyptic scenarios. They make for very fertile ground for storytelling. When you strip the world of Humanity, the little humanity that is left shines through. It's like a page filled with cold dark blue and there is a single small red ball in one of the corners. Your eye immediately zeroes in on that ball, and it will be warmer than it would be just by itself, no matter how small it is. A form of thematic composition if you will.

Prox: You feature women in many of your creations. How does women influence your style and the message in each of your works?

Ricardo: I just think the “feminine” and beauty hold hands in the most perfect way possible. I've always liked to draw the human body and the female body is just more interesting, beautiful, and elegant. I say that not only as a man, but as a conscious observer.

If men are the primary colors, then women are the vast subtle hues and tones in between them. They just make this world rich, complex, and worth while to live in and therefore make for the ultimate subject of awe, admiration, and contemplation.

Prox: For those interested in doing something similar to you, what are some of the tools and programs you’re using?

Ricardo: I use a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 because I like the freedom it gives me. I pretty much have an art studio anywhere I go. For software I keep to the basics, I use a very old version of Photoshop. PS CS2.

I get asked everyday what brushes I use.... I'm terrible at answering this question because I pretty much use standard default brushes. Maybe two of them have minor adjustments I did myself but I don't use more than 6 or 7 brushes and I use 3 for 95% of the process. I've drawn with pencil and paper all my life. I try to keep it as close to that as I can.

I think finding out what works for you is an important part of growing up as an artist. People should explore and experiment. There are literally thousands of ways to do this... I just use a couple of them.

I also cary around a pocket sketchbook and a pen, that I don't use as much I should, but it's there.

Prox: Any artists, books, music, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?

Ricardo: I’ll name a few because I could be here all day answering this question. I'll try to give a  list of what influenced me, mixed with just cool and fun stuff.

Artists- Joe Madureira, Frank Frazzetta, Yoji Shinkawa, Glen Keane, Michael Turner, Frank Miller...

Music- Really listen to your favorite movie soundtracks. Anything by Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, John Williams.

Also, Sigur Ros, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Yann Tiersen and Queen, the best band of all time has to be here.

For books I tend to read Fantasy:

The First Law Trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie. Majestic character building, best characters I've ever “seen”... You just want to draw them as you read and it's deliciously cynical and sarcastic. I leave a warning though: it's dark, but one of the most entertaining reads i've had.

For world building:

Mistborn series from Brandon Sanderson.

Deamon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett.

Magician (The Riftwar Saga) by Raymond E. Fiest …. because it's an epic classic. Tolkien and Fiest are arguably the 2 authors responsible for bringing Fantasy to the main stream of entertainment. If Tolkien was the father of Fantasy... Fiest taught it how to dance.

Movies/TV Shows:

Game of Thrones for obvious reasons. It's just the best thing ever made for television.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (the original anime)

Cowboy Bebop

Tarantino movies except for From Dusk Till Dawn, that one... just skip that one. Seven, Blade Runner, American Beauty, Ghost in the Shell (the animated movie), Akira, The Matrix (the first one), all of Hitchcock’s movies, all of Kubrick’s movies, The Lion King, Tarzan (the Glen Keane movie), The Man From Earth, Children of Men, The Tree of Life, Inception, Equilibrium... the list goes on and on...

This year presented us with 2 masterpieces that literally made me cry just for how good they are... so if you haven't, do yourself a favor and watch Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk... it's just cinematographic candy.

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Prox: What’s next for you? Any upcoming releases or project you’d like to tell us about?

Ricardo: I’m currently working as lead artist on a comic book for Death Valley Press called Good Land. That's all I can really say about that at the moment and I'll continue doing my own personal work that everyone can follow on my Instagram account.

Prox: Final thoughts?

Ricardo: Be bold, be relentless, and work hard. Know that you can change your life any day, every day. Just listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, instead of your heart like everyone says. Your heart is dumb, and the voice in the back of your mind knows you a lot better. Mine belongs to a Goblin named Larry. Larry brought me this far, so I trust Larry.

You can check out Ricardo's work on ArtStation, DeviantArt, INPRNT, and Instagram.

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