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André Carrilho's Distorted Faces

Words:

Edd Norval
May 30, 2018

Being a cartoonist or caricaturist is about both making someone instantly recognisable, but also capturing their personality. The profession has been in the spotlight more since the shootings at Charlie Hebdo - so what is life like for cartoonists? Where is their craft going?

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Donald Trump has been a blessing for cartoonists. No matter what you think about the man, artists love him. He's easy to ridicule, already almost caricaturish in his appearance. Carrilho has created many cartoons of him, utilising his almost photographic facial style with absurd proportions.


The more 'strange' his cartoons become, the more lifelike they same to be. He can mangle a figure into obscene postures, but he does so whilst capturing an essential truth about them. Celebrities and politicians are infinitely becoming of stereotype and typical traits. We view them through a lens for their whole lives. Even though we might see their quirks, we probably can't put our finger on what exactly it is - Carrilho does that in all of his work.


Gracing covers from Diário de Notícias in his home country of Portugal to the UK's New Statesman by way of features in Vanity Fair, The New York Times and The New Yorker, it's safe to say that his work hasn't gone unnoticed - that it is in some way relevant-by-consensus.

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Beyond the rendering of characters, something that has recently defined Carrilho's presence as an artist - he also creates cutting illustration-reportage style pieces that utilise insights that would otherwise take thousands of words to convey. One such image was a piece created for DN. It was focussing on the Ebola crisis and shows a room full of beds filled with black people.


There was one white person in amongst the beds and all the media was centred on them. He wanted us to change the way we talked about the outbreak - his cartoon gained significant exposure online and thus, helped to convey a tricky message. By utilising a graphic rather than textual approach - he gave people the room to think and interpret. It was an important conversation starter.


His work has a photographic feeling which tends to add to the impactful nature of the work. Mostly created by pencil on paper, he uses Photoshop to add the colour. It's a beautiful marriage between analogue and digital design that blossoms in an easily-recognisable style - a huge strength in the field that he works in.

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His dream assignment is being sent to the International Space Station to do a graphic reportage piece on life in space. That says a lot about his ambition. It isn't limited by the confines of his medium, instead his only limits are the imagination - his scope goes as far as the mind will allow it to.


This vision helped Carrilho forge his own idiosyncratic style that has graced many a cover of the world's best known papers and win many awards along the way. He is driven to say something, by any means necessary. More recently he has incorporated animation into his work and has began to develop a unique style of artistic reportage. Whilst it's difficult to predict his success in these fields, the prospect of seeing the same level of creativity being manifested in new forms is a very exciting one.


Some of these pieces do contain text, which is handy if statistics or 'facts' are involved. The image can then juxtapose the informative with the imaginative. Allowing an informed debate to launch from the visual platform. Wherever he goes, we will follow closely - even if it's from up in space.

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