Categories ArtPosted on

Serse Rodríguez

I am a graphic artist.

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Serse Rodríguez and I am a graphic artist.

Why do you do what you do?

It makes me feel happy, alive, and comfortable with myself.
Maybe ‘destroy to create’ is a part of my being, and I translate this in my work.

What’s your background?

I studied graphic design in Barcelona and Copenhagen, but I’ve always felt attracted to the art world; I guess you could say I’m a self-taught artist. That is why I consider myself a graphic artist, because I‘m in the middle of those two worlds, and I love them equally.

I’ve worked for many different kinds of companies, learning and improving my skillset, making me the artist I am today. I started my own studio many years ago, but it didn’t work out. I don’t think I was prepared to run it, but the important thing is I learned a lot about the mistakes that I made. So I can say my background is all about trial and error, and somehow, I’m proud of it.

How do you work? For example, what processes do you apply?

There is not a specific process to my work, and I don’t want to have one. I like to experiment with many different ways to destroy existing pieces of work and images and create them again in a different point of view. Cutting, pasting, mixing, composing… those would be my vehicle to do my work, but I like to change how I use those technics.

For example, personal work is different from that of my commissioned work. You have more freedom to experiment and go further in your personal efforts, but when it is a commission, you have to think about the work in relation to the commissioner. Someone wants something from you, and is you responsibility to achieve their expectations.

What art do you most identify with?

I identify with all collage expression forms because of the technic, but I’ve been influenced by many artists, aesthetics and disciplines, such as Hockney, Picasso and Cubism, Dalí, Richard Avendon, David Carson, Francis Bacon, Mackintosh, Appropiationism – just a few that comes to mind. They influence my work, but I actually take their ideas, aesthetics, technics, and I mix them, so when you see my work, you can identify my referents. I don’t try to hide that; it is something that I’m proud of. My work is my way of expression, but also it is a kind of way to say “thank you” for inspiring me.

What themes do you pursue?

For the moment I have two main themes I’m working with. One is about portraits, and the other is about sentences or quotes. When I work with portraits, I want to express the reality in a different way, deconstructing it and giving to it a new point of view. Disturbing the viewer positively and negatively doesn’t matter, it is more important for me to make them feel attracted to the work.

Sometimes my work is anonymous portraits that I fill with a specific personality, other times, it is made up of characters from stories or famous people, so I just try to represent them. For example, in my commission for Seen, I tried to reflect the personality of each designer.

When I work with sentences or quotes, it is more of a graphic exercise. I take a sentence that I love or that has inspired me, or that I think is interesting, and work in a composition to emphasise the idea behind it.

Who or what inspires your work?

As I mentioned, a lot of artistic movements, graphics, artists, musicians, photographers, writers, stories, myths… I can’t count them. But also my everyday life. I’m always surrounded with all of those inputs, I’m always listening to music, reading books or magazines, going to museums or galleries.

My inspiration could come simply from the works that hang from the walls in my house, or could come from a conversation I’ve had, a person I crossed in the street, the story of my family, my friends: almost anything. I try to be open-minded.

What do you like about your work?

Well, that’s a tricky question. What I like the most is it lets me express myself; to represent some of my thoughts. I also like to see how I’m improving. I love what I do, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. So I love everything.

I also love the idea of my work interacting with other people. It’s really nice when someone describes one of my works to me, because you can realise that there is another way to see your work, a way you haven’t seen before. Also, when two people analyse the same piece of work and both descriptions are completely different, it means they make my work a part of them, filling it with their own perceptions. I really like this.

What materials do you use to create your artwork?

I used to work with pictures and paper in 2D, but now I’m starting to experiment with other materials and in 3D. I love to experiment in different ways with the collage, or bring collage language to other fields. It is a completely new way to explore, and I really like it. It’s like you have and endless possibilities of expression, so I never tire of it.

Where do the ideas for your work come from?

I really don’t know, they just come to my mind. When I’m working without any specific route, they just appear in front of me. I used to think a lot in trying to find the right idea, but I could feel I was wasting my time with useless theories.

Now I prefer to keep working or researching new ideas. If some of the results aren’t good enough, it doesn’t matter. It is just a question of developing more and more until the muse catches you.

What research to you do?

Sometimes I work with my own stuff, photos mainly. But a lot of the time I take the pictures from magazines, vintage books, and some of my friends’ work. I prefer to work with someone else’s work as it’s more challenging.

I love to go to book and magazine shops to find materials for my work, especially second-hand book shops and charity shops. You can find some good treasures in these places. In fact, the idea to work with new materials came to me while I was shopping in a charity shop in my neighbourhood.

Here in London, there’s many possibilities for research for my work.

Ideally, what’s the goal of your work?

Well, I’m pretty new to it, so there are tonnes of goals to achieve. For the moment: nothing specific; more generic. I’d like to keep working on my artistic language, developing it in different ways that will let me express myself.

I really want to transmit sensations to people, even if these are not nice, at least it would mean that I’m transmitting something to them. That is a good goal. There are a lot of mini-goals, like exhibitions, commissions, and so on. But let’s talk about that in the future.

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JW Anderson

As Paul Smith is to a certain masculinity, so JW Anderson is to androgyny. Born in Northern Ireland, he originally wanted to be an actor but gradually became drawn to costume design. He window-dressed for Prada whilst studying menswear at the London college of Fashion. Women as well as men were drawn to his androgynous aesthetic. JW Anderson clearly delights in blurring the line between masculinity and femininity with his quirky pieces that also draw from urban street fashion, yet retain clear lines for a unisex, effortless look. His collaboration with TopShop was one that he approached with the same rigour as he would have done to any collection. He felt it produced some really iconic pieces, yet made them affordable for the High Street shopper, such as the chequerboard tops and skirts and the jackets with simple collars – really timeless pieces that are also collectable. Eschewing evening dress design, he stretched himself to collaborate with Versace, which at first might seem a curious combination – androgyny and the voluptuous aesthetic of Versace but it was one that worked. He created a more womanly silhouette with slashed peekaboo waistbands on trousers; bold asymmetric cuts; colour pops and monochrome. Very much a nineties club-kid vibe, whose crispness and line makes Anderson an icon, quintessentially a designer for our modern age, when the boundaries of gender are more fluid than ever before.

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Mary Quant

Synonymous with the swinging sixties, and an iconic personal look that became all the rage, Mary Quant’s designs epitomised what it was to be young, female and free. She was credited by many for inventing the mini skirt – so young women could run for the bus, she said. Fashion suddenly felt light and fun in post-war Britain and Quant wanted young people to dress for themselves in a playful, witty way. She was also responsible for hotpants, another garment that allowed the wearer total freedom of movement. Quant was inspired by the young women she saw shopping and dining up and down the King’s Road in Chelsea in the sixties, where her first shop Bazaar opened above a restaurant, and then a second with an interior designed by another up and coming designer, Terence Conran. There were few high-end designers at the time to cater for the fashionable young set of the era, and Quant saw her opportunity. She also designed the colourful, patterned tights that her customers teamed with their mini dresses and skirts. The ‘Mary Quant look’ took off in popularity, inspiring not just a slew of fashion trends, but a whole new set of sensibilities in young women of the time, who saw a chance to throw off the constraints of old-fashioned social expectations in dress and behaviour.

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Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen’s working-class beginnings never held him back from achieving fame via stints in Savile Row (where it was rumoured that he sewed swear words into the lining of Prince Charles’ suits), Romeo Gigli, Givenchy and as a pattern cutter at Central St Martin’s. He enrolled as a student there, which led to his entire graduate show being brought by Isabella Blow, who nurtured his career and brand identity. So what makes McQueen so ‘British’? He designed the Union Jack coat worn by David Bowie on his Earthling album, thus helping to rehabilitate the ‘Union Jack’ in fashion. The skull was another image used lavishly by McQueen in his designs, for an edgier look that toughened up the brand, harking back to British seafaring history. He designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress; a classic garment that was almost universally well-received. He was not afraid to re-imagine British history in his work and especially his Catwalk shows, even if that history was troubled. ‘Highland Rape’ for example, brought a ‘dark theatre of cruelty’ to the catwalk, proving that a strong narrative helped collections to remain memorable long after the event.

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Paul Smith

Famous for his men’s suits and exquisite tailoring, Paul Smith’s brand has always been about taking a classic item and putting his own idiosyncratic twist on it. He started out with his own shop in Nottingham after training on Savile Row. As his clothes became famous he moved to Covent Garden, enlivening shirts and suits with his own eclectic patterns – most famously the bright candy-stripes. Suits gradually became less formal during this period, meaning that men could wear them day-to-day and not be restricted to black, grey and blue. His suits were taken up by celebrities, who often opted for brighter colours and designs. Floral patterns and more casual tees joined his range. Paul Smith moved into womenswear, after discovering that many of his clothes were bought by women. He took over R. Newbold, incorporating their traditional workwear cuts into his designs, inspiring casual chinos. The resulting look is relaxed yet sharp, exquisitely tailored but playful; British, but with a twist.

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Vivienne Westwood

If Quant was the icon of the sixties, then Vivienne Westwood was the face of the punk seventies. Very much the Grande Dame of British fashion, Dame Vivienne continues to inspire and delight with new collections in her seventieth year. Famously beginning on the King’s Road with Malcolm McClaren’s ‘Sex’ shop, she dressed the Sex Pistols, The Slits and many other young punk musicians of the day, thus establishing a link between fashion and music that persists to this day. The brand expanded and grew, with Dame Vivienne linking her designs to political movements dear to her heart such as CND and Liberty. She has always been, by her own admission, unafraid to shock and always keen to ‘put a spoke in the system’, hence her embracing of the punk movement. Drawing her imagery from BDSM, razors, zips, safety pins, lavatory chains and spiked dog collars, Dame Vivienne combined them with traditional cloth-cutting techniques from the 16th and 17th centuries to create exciting and radically-cut clothes. She later invented the mini-crini, a puffball skirt that drew from history and ushered in the era of the ‘new romantic’ in the eighties. Later, she went on to dress high-end models in clothes that seemed to parody the dress styles of aristocracy, even as the aristocrats themselves bought them.

www.serserodriguez.com

Credits

  • Text Lee Bell
  • Photographer Vicente Monedero

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