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Richard Levine on His New Work & Life as an Artist

AR: What was the inspiration behind your new release?

I have thrown everything at this piece in terms of creativity, design and effort. I have experimented with this Felix character using 30 different designs and patterns. The final product has taken longer for me to create than most of my other pieces. This incarnation of Felix has a very positive pose. My aim is for the design to provide a feeling of freedom, with the added peace sign finger pose on his hand giving the general impression of moving forward with confidence.

I have been experimenting with the idea of individual tattoo designs, each of which has their own meaning. I include pieces that have personally inspired me: characters like Popeye, Olive Oyl, Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse. I have taken elements of traditional tattoo crucifixes and abstracted and changed them to

shift meaning and allow people to attach their own interpretations. I have replaced the crucifix with a smiley face to remove the religious significance in favour of an image that encompasses spiritual growth and comfort.

2020 with all its challenges is represented by the bottle of poison. This could also represent our personal demons as a result of the pandemic. The plague character is overlaid with other spiritual and religious connotations along with themes of love and death from Mexican culture. I had to include some big cat influences too. I could have gone on to include so many more images but realise that it is already pretty imbued with meaning.

AR: Do you see this work as a continuation of previous work or a series, or a new departure in your practice?
This image is a continuation of past work in as much as it makes reference to some of my other pieces. Also, my approach has been similar. However, this image does have a slightly different flavour than past works as there are lots of smaller elements that have been designed separately which is a departure.
AR: What does a typical day look like for you?
I normally have several ideas running simultaneously and will work on several designs concurrently. If I have a deadline to finish a painting, then I will focus on this alone until the painting is finished.
AR: Which artists inspire you, or you admire?
Many artists inspire me, especially Viktor Vaserely and Richard Anuszkiewicz: I am drawn to different components of their work depending on what I am creating in a piece. I also find a lot of inspiration outside of any single artist’s sphere: I love films, animated movies, graphics and the intricate designs of many luxury fashion brands, for example, the distinct patterns they use in their fabrics.
AR: When did you know you wanted to pursue a life in art?
Perhaps from the age of around 9 years old: I kept lots of sketch books and was constantly drawing. The most positive feedback I got as a kid was from my work on creative projects, so I always assumed I would go in that direction. I have tried stints in graphic design, television moving graphics, stop frame animation
and cel animation. Painting and working on my own designs are the most rewarding for me.
AR: What did it feel like when you sold your first artwork?
I did a screen printing course in Brighton and then showed a few pieces in an artist open house where Richard Rogers’ partner bought a number 1 of a Moose design. It was a good feeling to know that it went to such a good home!
AR: What’s your favourite creative work?
This is such a hard question. I was very inspired by Matisse’s work at the Rosary Chapel in St Paul de Vence, France. The light pouring through the stained glass windows was incredible. As far as music is concerned, I am a lover of Blue Grass jazz. As for films, it has got to be Bladerunner.
CLICK HERE to check out Levine's new collection! 
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