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Richard Levine

Artist Spotlight

Ultimately, I suppose that artists reflect their inner selves through their work in the hope that they awaken something in the viewer by stimulating their aesthetic sensibilities.

An interest in vintage animation, comics, and illustration led Richard Levine to a career in motion graphics. This same energy is captured in his art, which explores the geometric structure of iconic imagery. Embracing a spectrum of inspirations – from typographer Jan Tschichold to op art founder Victor Vasarely – Levine’s work hovers between representation and abstraction. It gives new life to recognizable iconography, by casting it in an altered form. 



Q. How did you go from a career in motion graphics and illustration to being an artist? Was there a pivotal moment in your career that led to this decision?

A. It was a slow progression. I spent a long time learning about how to use 3D software, as I needed a thorough knowledge of it to implement my design ideas. The technical stuff didn’t come naturally to me but I was impatient as I wanted quick results to keep me motivated. My first and still favourite piece was inspired by both a Victor Vasarelly design and an Andy Warhol Mickey Mouse print.

Q. Your work re-interprets imagery that can be considered iconic - what is your goal in re-imagining these very recognizable figures?

A. My goal is always to create an interesting, timeless, and original design that is both classic and uplifting. Timelessness is important in art so the piece doesn’t get tired. I also want to enjoy myself as I take the design through the creative process. Ultimately, I suppose that artists reflect their inner selves through their work in the hope that they awaken something in the viewer, stimulating their aesthetic sensibilities.

Q. Is there an element of childhood nostalgia to your cartoon pieces?

A. In certain pieces I would say I am trying to channel some of my childhood spontaneity and playfulness.

Q. Your work showcases an intense, and sometimes almost contradictory, interplay between shape, patterns, and even textures, where does this juxtaposition originate? Which of these elements would you consider to be the base of your work?

A. I have always enjoyed the process of making art and how it makes me feel. I have encountered many influences along the way. Many of them are still reflected in my work today: comic books; graphics from typography to fabric design; the Old Masters, like Holbein and Da Vinci; and abstract pieces from Vasarelly and Mondrian. I also have a keen interest in observing our inner world: lucid dreaming, meditation, and the supernatural; as well as our outer world: people, places, and objects. I hope that my pieces reflect this fusion of different stylistic expressions, both in the abstract and the figurative.

Q. Could you describe your artistic process?

A. The process is evolutionary. It can change with each work and is quite complicated. Generally, I start with a 2D image that I then create in 3D. The image is manipulated with abstract patterns or shapes and converted back to 2D. Sometimes, this will then be converted into a textured pattern rendered in an embossed die for example.

Q. Which historic art movements have had an impact on your personal artistic vision? 

A. Although this might sound simplistic, all of my work gets fed through an op-art filter. I have concentrated on popular cultural icons because they are easily recognizable and which makes it easier to show the process and mutability of these pieces.

Q. You have stated that you would like your work to be the base for a new visual idiom, could you elaborate on this?

A. I really enjoy the process of discovery in my work. Effectively, the process of creation is a journey which starts off in one way and ends up evolving into a surprise design that I might least expect. It would make a great art movement to take the same piece of art and pass it on to another artist for their interpretation ad infinitum.

Q. Some of your pieces expand beyond the canvas by way of textural surfaces or tactile elements (your Cosmic Mouse piece, for example), could you imagine branching further out into the three-dimensional in the future?

A. I am always thinking in 3D. When I was at art school, in my final year show, I took some graphics and made them into giant inflatables. I do have a few ideas….