Raphaël Vicenzi – aka mydeadpony – is a self-taught illustrator and visual artist. Based in Brussels, he experimented with digital tools like Photoshop in order to find his own direction and creativity. Vicenzi’s works have been featured by the established publishing house Taschen, and he can already count among his clients popular name like Universal, Style.com, Virgin and The Washington Post. His sources of inspirations come from a wide range of pop references, from fashion to street art and alternative music. To make order of all of these different influences, the only apparent solution seemed to be cut-and-paste collage.
Why did you choose the pseudonym mydeadpony?
It’s a long story. In short, I needed a nickname to register myself on Deviantart when I first wanted to show my artworks and that's what I came up with. It's just based on a childhood picture of myself sitting on top of a sad, white pony. That was around the time that I truly realised I was mortal, so the name was fitting. Now it’s following me like a ghost I can't shake off.
You are a self-taught illustrator. When did you discover your interest for art and how did you develop your own artistic language?
I have always felt artistically minded, but my parents were against any form of creativity, so they constantly kept discouraging me from pursuing any artistic degrees. It was only much later, in my late twenties, that I started to get the urge to create again. I used to buy the Raygun magazines with all that crazy Carson typography, which was associated with the type of music I was listening to.
It was really exciting for me, so I started to learn by myself how to use Photoshop and so on. I just did not have a clue of where to start and how to learn all those things. The Internet wasn't like it is today. So it took a while for me to figure out that I could use computers to make art. That was the entry way for me, instead of starting with paint or pencils. I just kept on developing my artistic eye and I worked a lot. I can't say it was an easy path, but at least it's mine.
Mydeadpony Exorcism Makes the Heart.jpg
You work especially with collage. Why are you so interested in this technique?
I wasn't happy anymore with my illustration, so I wanted to explore another way of working with my ideas. I was really interested by the overall look of punk fanzines and ripped posters; they were the best way to approach collage, while retaining my own visual references. I am constantly striving to have this instinctual approach to my work. Although I do spend a lot of time trying out different compositions (or images) until I am more or less happy with the artwork. It's like sampling in music: your reinterpret something already existing in another new and original way, and give it a new meaning far from the original one.
Do you create your collages using the traditional paper and scissor technique, or with digital tools? What possibilities do these different tools offer?
A bit of both, but the final composition is always made with the computer. I scan, print, paint, use a mouse and cut things up. The result is what matters to me, the rest are just tools to be used. Some things wouldn’t be possible to do without the computer, but for me it has to remain very basic, low-fi and yet modern.
Portraits are often present in your works. What attracts you to faces? And how do you choose them?
We are all wearing masks, knowingly or not. Working over a face allows me to represent the hidden part that is buried deep within the unconscious. I also just appreciate a beautiful face, and sometimes it doesn’t have more meaning than this.
Mydeadpony Rien Dautre.jpg
Inspirations come from a broad range of sources for you. One of them is music, right? How does it inspire you?
I am really into independent music in general: from black metal to shoegaze, coldwave, witch house and so on. I’ve always imagined my work would be used as a flyer or poster for a weird black metal band or something very raw and punk, which sometimes really helps me get in the mood when I am creating. My visual works borrow the clashing of noises, the reverberating echoes of a bass drum or the jagged edges of distortion, which I then translate into shapes, colours and composition. They're the full on-going discography from my non-existing band.
I am not always listening to music though. Sometimes it’s just a distraction from my own stream of consciousness. It's good to hear your thoughts, the good ones as well as the bad ones, once in a while.
In your collages and illustrations, fashion photography and advertising seem to have an influence. Why does these inspire you?
I am fascinated by lights, shadows, poses, settings, clothes and of course, models. I try to stay curious about a lot of things so photography in general is also an interest of mine. Without curiosity, creation is dead. When I look at a fashion magazine I want to see emotion, mood, drama and mystery in an editorial. Those special pictures that are hinting at a larger story, where my mind can fill in the blanks and I can start to dream about what happened before or after the shoot.
Graffiti and street art have influenced your work as well. How do you combine the urban and provocative vibe of them with the more glamorous influence of fashion?
Somehow it seems like a natural association to me. I always see this like the rough edges of a decaying building with the soft fabric of silk and the shape of a neck ripped like a poster in the wind. I enjoy contrasting ideas – two opposite things that should not be together, but happen to coexist and mingle to become something more. That's where great ideas come from, unexpected connections between unrelated things. That's how my mind works; if I see something I always try to picture what I could do to change it and turn it into something else, what would make it stand out or twist beyond recognition.
Mydeadpony Trap Them A.jpg
What do you want to communicate to the viewer through your works?
I am not certain if I want to communicate something specific, as my works are mainly a reflection of my own internal landscape. My best hope is that the people looking at my works could at least appreciate them visually. And if one of my pieces triggers a certain memory, or inspires a person to make their own collages or provokes a new train of thought, I would be more than happy.
Have you ever experimented with other media? Do you think you may do so in future projects?
I am experimenting a lot with paint, but I am far from being at least half competent in that field. So at the moment I am still open to new ideas or trying out new media. I should make moving gifs out of my works.
Mydeadpony Funeral Mask Ii.jpg
Mydeadpony Psychic Diamond.jpg
Mydeadpony S Ilence Is Noise.jpg
Mydeadpony Temple.jpg