When I was a kid, I was totally into comic books. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, you name it. However, it wasn't until I met Portuguese artist Nuno Raminhos online www.nunoraminhos.comthat I learned that it's a true art genre. Nuno Raminhos is an artist, not a cartoon creator or animator, but a true artist whose oeuvre includes what we conventionally term "comic book art." But read our cool chat and hear it from Nuno himself.
MICHAEL: Hey Nuno! Dude, I love your work. You clearly love animation and superheroes and cartoon characters. I'm guessing this dates back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your first comics or cartoons?
NUNO: Hey Michael! First of all, thank you for liking my work. Having grown up, my references for comic books came mainly from Japanese and American production. They were far more visually stimulating than the European productions at the time. In childhood, Walt Disney and Hayao Miyazaki (Heidi: Girl of the Alps andFuture Boy Conan) were undoubtedly remarkable. At this point, I wasn't much different from other kids! My other early influences were Atom Ant and Mighty Mouse on television, characters that I remember with particular satisfaction. They were responsible for many of my late arrivals at school. In my teens, I was introduced to the world of DC Comics and Marvel Comics. I have extended my horizons considerably. These were the main points of departure for the work that I currently do. I've always wanted to make paintings that have content and ideas that people can see, perceive and feel easily. In fact, what I identify as the most stimulating in my work is the temporal transposition that I wish it could cause by making free the memories of childhood and adolescence in people.
MICHAEL: Your Superhero paintings are fantastic. Do you consider yourself more of an artist or animator?
NUNO: No doubt that I recognize myself as an artist. I chose painting as the way to communicate and respond to my artistic needs! My interest in comics is especially in the strong formal design and vibrant colors. My paintings don't try to disguise the many drawn inspirations of comics themselves. However, my work goes beyond the mere use of super-heroes. I look to them for the perpetuation of their feelings and expressions as the very form of identifying emotions of human beings. They are for me a source of interpretation, never losing sight of the need to establish a connection with the public through the use of an instantly recognizable iconography.
MICHAEL: I think it's very interesting the way you create paintings using superheroes and little cartoon characters in the same painting. Why do you do that?
NUNO: This series of paintings of which you refer, had as a starting point the perverse innocence of the music of The White Stripes; "I Think I Smell a Rat." It's about how it made me feel when I listened to it. For me, it was the game between the innocence, the candor, the ingenuity and the deception, the mistrust, the lies, which led to the conception of these two opposing worlds but juxtaposed in my work. It's the representation of the supposedly incoherent, disregarding any kind of traditional look. All this is a contradictory mix of different ideas and visual sources: rats, rabbits, Bambi, monkeys, squirrels... juxtaposed with the powerful and aggressive characters. It's the false fragility coexisting with false powerful.
MICHAEL: Very interesting. You know, many people love superheroes. I think many of us want to be superheroes, but many times we cannot even stand up and do the right thing, let alone be a superhero. What do you think? LOL.
NUNO: A super hero, as I understand, is an individual who having passed through certain experiences, is "beyond good and evil" and is determined to become the absolute master of his own emotions and passion by following a creative moral code. All of these characteristics remove the possibility of anyone becoming or born a superhero! That role is reserved for entities that only had a parallel in the world of classical mythology. For humans the only remaining possibility is to wear a hero suit.
MICHAEL: Funny. Are you a full-time artist? Do you ever have problems with people who may think you just draw cartoons and maybe they think you are
not a serious artist?
NUNO: Currently, I reconcile my artistic activity with the teaching of art. I aspire to be a full-time artist, but as my painting style is based on specific niche of consumers, this would not have been possible (especially in a market as small Portugal). The general public is not properly "educated" to understand the true meaning of this painting style. They frequently place it in a more childish or juvenile universe, ignoring the more subliminal and ironic messages contained therein.
MICHAEL: Yes, many people don't view your genre as true art. They tend to see it as mere comic book entertainment.
NUNO: The premeditated precision of my technique may often forget the pictorial characterization. Of course, this fact makes me aware of the potential confusion between mere image impression and true painting. Some observers sometimes have less artistic references. The combination of comics and painting eventually triggers discussion about the boundaries between these two forms of expression, but for me, the iconography of comics is used as one of my artistic themes of choice.
MICHAEL: To me, your work seems very American. Do people in Portugal relate well to your work?
NUNO: During my artistic/aesthetic formation, American culture was something very present in all forms of communication: cinema, television, comics and advertising. My main references, like in most of the Western world, were American. As for my painting, the problem lies not in the American influences, but in inducing well-defined feelings; either the audience identifies with it or refuses it, there is no middle ground. People who don't review this type of painting are the ones who are fond of more conventional aesthetics, not the ones who reject all American culture necessarily!
MICHAEL: Oh, that's interesting. I get it.
NUNO: We can't forget that, historically, Portugal has always been very receptive and open to different cultures and the country is also a vehicle for transmitting culture. Just think that globalization has its origins with the Portuguese from the time of discoveries in the XVI century. Therefore, we don't have difficulty in accepting different aesthetic and cultural references from different geographical areas.
MICHAEL: It looks like you've worked a long time at refining your technique. Do you paint every day? Do you paint other things and not only animation?
NUNO: Painting for me is a necessity, so I have to do it regularly. I started developing a taste for painting since childhood and my ambition has always been, since then, becoming a professional painter. All this time my aim is always improving my technique and getting better. I'm a perfectionist by nature! The diversity of themes have existed all along my course. The fine arts university that I attended demanded it. This happened until I got into the galleries circuit. At that moment, I opted for the pictorial language related to comics. I did it as a matter of personal identification and simultaneously as a way of affirm my own style.
MICHAEL: Finally Nuno, What do you hope to do with your painting in the future? Would you like to have one-man shows in New York or London? Would you like to be a big art star in Portugal?
NUNO: In the future, besides my wish to continue this evolutionary pictorial process, I wish I could reach with my paintings to a wider audience. Necessarily, exhibit in cities like New York or London are part of the ambition of any artist. It is in this sense that I also wish I could be recognized in those artistically international centers of culture. That's because only in this way can one be truly successful in Portugal!
MICHAEL: Thanks Nuno. You're super-talented. I hope that you achieve your goals.
Check out Nuno's work at his cool website at www.nunoraminhos.com.