ricardo cavolo is a colectivo futurist

Born in Salamanca, but now residing in Madrid, Ricardo Cavolo is a one-of-a-kind character who interprets life through his illustrations. His pieces ooze of metaphorical symbols that perfectly complement his colorful, yet somewhat freaky characters. Not satisfied with capturing his thoughts on pieces of paper, he’s always looking for new surfaces and textures with which to explore; whether it’s textiles, wood, or even skin, his illustrations instantly bring these surfaces to life with a universal and instantly recognizable appeal.


CF: who is ricardo cavolo? at which point in your life did you decide you wanted to become an illustrator?

Well, Ricardo Cavolo is a young man who has drawn all his life and will continue doing so forever and ever, amen. So, I’ve done this since forever, actually I believe everyone is capable of drawing from the moment we are able to pick up a pencil with our hands. Later, it just so happens that we realize that we are horrible at doing anything else and we just keep on drawing.

From a professional standpoint, things have been a bit more difficult; illustrating is something I’ve done for both pleasure and necessity (human wise, not financially), so when I first tried to start charging for it, it became a problem. For the best part of the last two years, I have managed to feel sufficiently prepared to charge for my work and to show it to a larger audience. The fact that I can now combine my biggest passion with a way of making a living is one of the best choices I’ve made in life. Whereas some people think that if you professionalize your passion, the magic is gone, I believe that you simply need pay attention and good care of still having fun while you draw and it will show in the end results. At this point, I’m still enjoying my craft and I can also afford to buy enough tomatoes at the end of the month, so like I said: it’s been a great choice!

“there’s a sort of duality in my illustrations which is probably a reflection of my own personal life”

CF: your illustrations seem to be charged in equal measure with humor and endless symbolisms that hint at more serious subjects; what are you hiding behind each of your pieces?

It’s true that there’s a sort of duality in my illustrations… and it’s probably a reflection of my personal life; I tend to take things very seriously (for good and bad) and that usually gives me an added intensity that’s perhaps more than the necessary. That’s why I try to lighten the process with a dose of humor that makes things more bearable.

So I translate the same into my work, where I like to treat serious subjects that transcend, while constantly trying to provide details that subtract some of that seriousness from the pieces and allow us to understand that despite how dramatic something might be, there’s always a positive note to bring out of it and move on to the next step.


CF: your illustrations appear on a host of different surfaces, including books, clothing, and even skin! which of these is your favorite? which new surface would you like to explore in the future?

I really love this job, hence I’m always striving to explore new ways in which to develop myself. Each surface or technique has its own characteristics which you try to take advantage of to get the best results. It’s also a way not to get bored, if I switch forests each week, the road is always interesting and I end up getting to know a good amount of forests!

If I had to choose one surface, I would probably stick to wood. I really like wood! When I’m working with it, the whole process becomes warmer and livelier, in fact just by resting my hand on wood to draw already brings good sensations forth. Also, the texture on wood is always very grateful, both to the eye and touch.

In terms of a surface to explore in the future. One comes to mind immediately: the walls of the city! I carry a big desire to sink my teeth into painting a mural on any given wall…

“I believe everyone is capable of drawing from the moment we are able to pick up a pencil with our hands”

CF: if you could soundtrack your work, what would you choose?

Without a doubt I’d build my own. I’d choose from a host of different genres, but all hinting at a vintage sound from another time. Firstly, there would be tons of songs by the great Johnny Cash (my musical idol), joined by a range country and folk songs from the likes of The Carter Family, Flatt & Scruggs, The Tallest Man On Earth, or Neutral Milk Hotel; I would also add a big dose of vintage blues, from the 20s and 30s. Finally, I would close the deal with a touch of grit and power with some garage, bands like Black Lips, Jay Reatard, or Thee Oh Sees would do the trick.


CF: what is your favorite thing about living in Madrid?

Madrid is a big city; this makes it a very busy place with tons of creative endeavors available. Thee’s a good platform to develop and to showcase our craft, and this is a huge advantage. I’ve been aware from my early days as an illustrator that my trade is well suited in a place where there’s a steady cultural scene, where I can have a better chance at receiving commissioned work.

CF: what are you currently working on? which projects will you be dealing with in the future?

I’m still in the process of finishing some commissions I received. At the moment though, I’m entrenched in finishing up work for two exhibitions that will open soon. This is really taking up a lot of my time, because for both showings, I’m working on brand new pieces as well as trying to change my work process a bit to avoid being stale. Again, it’s a lot of work, but in turn it’s really exciting for me; I hope people can find my current output interesting.

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