We would quite like Alessandro Ripane to be our Dad. He has a unique illustration style and we’ve been told his natural body odour inspired Gucci’s latest range of aftershaves. What a guy!
Dash Majesty: For those who aren’t familiar with you and your work, could you introduce yourself?
Alessandro Ripane: Hi, I’m Alessandro Ripane, an Italian illustrator currently based in Genova. I usually draw things that are melting, I cook quite a good Parmigiana di Melanzane and I’m terrified of travelling by plane. That’s pretty much everything you need to know about me.
DM: You’re currently working on your second long story – can you tell us anything about it?
AR: Since I’m not a real comic artist, I haven’t published so many stories, most of them are usually one or two pages long, but the only long one I’ve made (that appears in B Comics) was really fun, so I decided to challenge myself and try to work on a really long one.
The story was written by me and a friend, Ester Armanino – I truly hope to be able to actually finish it. I’m not a lazy person when it comes to work, but with personal projects I can be extremely slow!
DM: Which comic book artists would you say have influenced your work the most?
AR: Even though I have worked as an illustrator for a few years, I have to admit that my influences are closer to other kinds of art, like music and film. I do of course try to keep an eye on what’s going on in the illustration world (the internet is a miracle for this, I’ve discovered so many good things because of it), but there are so many amazing things out there that it would take too long to list names. I suppose the artist who made me take comics seriously is Enki Bilal, specifically with his Nikopol trilogy.
…but it’s just funny to melt things.
DM: Do you have a favourite piece of yours?
AR: It’s not really my favourite, but it’s the one with the most interesting story, and people seem to love it so much, so I guess I have to say the Melting Kids with the Gramophone; it doesn’t even have a real title!
I think I’m still working now because of that illustration, so many people ask me for similar things, it’s incredible – I didn’t expect that. I made it in 2013 for a friend’s magazine, Lok Zine, but now it has pretty much spread worldwide. For example, 2 years ago The Prodigy shared it. After that, I received so many pictures from people who had it as a tattoo! I haven’t sold it yet. I’ll wait until the price is really high and then I’ll buy something extremely expensive. I don’t know what yet, so if you have some suggestions please let me know.
DM: Have you ever thought about a Fabergé egg? A great deal of your work features melting faces and sea creatures – why are you drawn to these themes in particular?
AR: In my life I have been attracted to many different things. When I was young, I mean really young, like 6 or 7, I was totally into wild animals and dinosaurs. I forced my father to take me to the Natural History Museum every week to look at ugly stuffed animals (poor man).
Then I got obsessed with superheroes, and honestly, in the darkest corners of my room, I still draw ugly Batman and stuff like that!
Melting stuff came much later, but it’s just funny to melt things. I mean on paper, I promise you that everything in my place is still solid. I usually don’t melt real things, although that could be quite cool!
DM: Are there any particular artists you would like to collaborate with?
AR: There are so many artists I would like to collaborate with (seriously, a lot), but honestly I work much better alone. I still haven’t found a “perfect” artist to collaborate with, but I’m looking forward to that! I’ve collaborated with many graphic designers and animators, which is probably even better. I like to mix different things like animation, fashion, photography and graphics.
DM: You recently designed a number of record sleeves, what was different about this process compared to your regular freelance work?
AR: Actually, there’s not so much difference in terms of the process, but sometimes it can be more fun. You can end up exploring a whole world of things that can be really uncommon with other kinds of commissions. Projecting the entire cover is really exciting, and if the band is rock/punk/metal and you don’t have any good ideas, you can always draw a skull.
Skulls are always cool for a cover and funny to draw, even if you’re the most colourful and peaceful illustrator on earth, sometimes you have to draw a bloody, ugly, rotten, shitty skull!
DM: The natural world appears to play a large part in your work – why is this?
AR: I think that it’s probably because when I was younger I was obsessed with nature. Some years ago I found a sketchbook with a lot of drawings from when I was about 4 or 5, and it’s full of animals and nature. The animals are always represented during brutal fights – but in the background I made nice landscapes, with woods, volcanoes, mountains, sea, flowers etc.
DM: If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?
AR: Oh, I don’t know… you know, it’s a good question. It’s a shame that I don’t have a proper answer, because my work is difficult (especially in Italy) so I need to have a plan B, just in case. Well, let me think… I would like to do something humbling, something traditional, that makes me feel in touch with people, something sustainable, ecological, healthy, so… I think I could be a rapper.
DM: Word to your mother. Other than those already mentioned, are there any projects you’re working on which you’re particularly excited about?
AR: I’m working on several things right now, but most of them are secret.
I mean, secret for real, like imagine a folder with “TOP SECRET” written on it. Spies try to steal this secret information – conspiracies, strange nicknames, hidden places, secret codes, phone calls with the president – things like that.
Upcoming exhibition dates
I’m actually part of a collective exhibition called 99 Percent Invisible at Flamingosaurus Rex in Edinburgh. I have other things going on as well, but I can’t remember what they are right now, so please visit my Facebook page.