RADIANT CIRCUS chatted with artist Cristina Polop about walking like a duck, amorous crabs, drawing funny & her design for MIDNIGHT EXCESS #3, Ranjit S. Ruprai’s late night collab with Amos Levin (15 JUN 23:00+, Rio Cinema).
By RADIANT CIRCUS
RADIANT CIRCUS helps London’s film fans find their next fix. What kind of films do you love (and what are your secret guilty pleasures – don’t worry, we promise we won’t tell…)?
My taste in films comes in different colours and flavours. I’m fascinated by German Expressionist films and by movies from the 70s such as THE WICKER MAN or THE FRENCH CONNECTION with grainy looks and impossible zooms. I quite enjoy Noir, French and Italian cinema and any movies from classic directors such as Hitchcock, Lynch, Kubrick, Buñuel, Welles, Scorsese and Coppola… I’m also an XXI century citizen, I like to watch contemporary films and discover new directors. What I most enjoy is a story that takes me on a journey that I didn’t expect, visually or conceptually. Being able to see new realities and return whenever I want. No teleportation required!
Obviously Sundays are for guilty pleasures and mine are always any classic 80s film, such as THE LOST BOYS or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Any film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is a plus; three boobs and Sharon Stone in ass-kicking mode is a fun Sunday. I also love ALIEN films; Ellen Ripley is my hero and the cat is my imaginary pet.
London’s film fans will know your work from indie magazine Little White Lies. Where did you begin and how has your illustration career developed?
Where I began is where I never stopped. When we are little, we all hold a pencil as if it was a weapon, leaving a trace behind us as a testimony of where we were. Hands in a cave or scrawls on our parent’s house walls. I think that the reason some of us keep drawing is because we feel more comfortable creating our own way than fitting in a mould that most of the time is methodical and repetitive, at least that is my experience.
I come from a traditional art background, my mother is also an artist and I used to have those “Look mum no hands!” moments ever since I was little. I was trained in painting and drawing, and I also worked as photographer and video editor. When I finished university, I wanted to do everything in different ways and at the same time and it was chaos. It took me a while to focus and develop my own career. I started working for Little White Lies and from there I started collaborating with music bands, creating posters for Indie films and developing editorial work for magazines such as Variety and The Guardian.
Most film magazines are photography-based: As a former pro photographer, what does Little White Lies’ extensive use of illustration bring to moving image culture?
Little White Lies has brought a unique approach to talk about cinema by creating pieces of art that are about pieces of art. It has upgraded what is, and what it means to be, a magazine about cinema. It’s something that you want to keep and review once in a while. It’s a unique and beautiful experience.
How has your very specific – and amazing! – illustration style developed over time?
Thanks! I’m going to keep this for the future in case I must prepare some lemonade! People keep telling me that I have my own style and it’s something that I’m aware of. It came naturally and it’s something that I almost can’t change. It’s like your writing style or the way you walk. If you walk like a duck, better train yourself to walk like a good duck rather than to be a rabbit. The same would be for the elephant or any other animal of your choice. When you keep drawing and keep working on the subjects that you enjoy the most, the style comes to visit you, and eventually stays.
Portraiture is important to your artwork, and you’re working with some of the world’s most recognisable faces. How do you lock down a likeness of someone we think we all know?
Like Basil with Dorian, I like to keep people’s souls in my humble papers. The eyes and their expressions are the key in a portrait. The Kray Brothers were twins but the way they looked made them to look very different, probably it reflected by the difference in their personalities.
We love your playful approach to male movie stars like “Marilyn Buscemi” and Arnie’s “sexy lumps”. Would you say there’s a signature tone to your illustration?
I love having a good laugh. Once I saw this documentary about crabs, and you could see how a smaller crab was pretending to be bigger by opening his arms as much as possible in order to seduce the females and scare his opponents. We do more or less the same and probably that vision is reflected on my work. I’m also quite a perfectionist, I enjoy the perfect imperfection and I suffer the imperfect perfection.
The process of choosing, creating and compiling images for your MIDNIGHT EXCESS poster – out of 1000s of possibilities – must have been epic! How did you go about it? And is there an illustrator’s equivalent of the cutting room floor, the images that didn’t make the mix?
As you say, there are multiple options and many images were left outside queuing into the club. It all depends on what I want to express and what is the message behind. After watching the movies, I start visualising the composition and colours. Afterwards I prepare some quick sketches to materialise what I have imagined, and then I start working on the final artwork. For this poster I wanted to deliver the fun and craziness that The Lonely Island members brought into the HOT ROD and POPSTAR movies.
You’ve captured The Lonely Island’s extensive cast of characters as well as a real sense of their comedy. How do you draw funny?
I got very excited when SUPAKINO asked me to create this MIDNIGHT EXCESS piece as I quickly connect with comedy. It’s something I really enjoy and I feel very comfortable working with, that is probably reflected in the final result.
Finally, we’re gathering survival tips for midnight movies. How would you suggest our audience survives until the near-dawn?
Coffee and having a proper night’s sleep is much recommended. Other alternatives can be wearing a special helmet like in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE or being bitten by a random vampire; you won’t need to face the mirror anymore.
MIDNIGHT EXCESS #3: The Lonely Island Double Bill is presented by SUPAKINO & Amos Levin at Rio Cinema (15 JUN 23:00+).
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*THE SMALL PRINT: Some of these words are not our own. All opinions and artwork credited to the original creators and their collaborators. We try to get the details right: let us know if any links, dates, venues etc. are broken or just plain wrong. Updates will be made to the online edition only. Rights to THE LONELY ISLAND poster are retained by Ranjit S. Ruprai/SUPAKINO. All other original image rights on this page are retained by Cristina Polop.