Being beautifully grotesque- Artist series: Nicolas rossius
With Instagram's list of community guidelines forever expanding, alongside the growing population of 'Insta models', it can be fairly concluded that the social media platform's popularity has derived from regulations, restrictions, and more importantly, an exclusivity where beauty and art are concerned.
Illustrator, Nicolas Rossius, is unintentionally fighting back with beautifully- grotesque imagery that challenges social normalities and Instagram standards. His art consists of zombie-esque faces in compromising situations.
The Belgian artist explains; "Like my mom says: “It’s nicely done, but it’s really ugly!”. I guess it depends on the point of view, I don’t mean to shock people or make them uncomfortable but sometimes I receive comments, such as, “Do you ever draw anything happy?”. The fact is, I do think I draw positive things, even if sometimes there is a creepy side to them and I think most of my followers enjoy those friendly-evil things. Meanwhile, I have great support from social media, friends, and family and I’m truly grateful for it. As I draw what I love or what I want to see, I’m glad that I’m able to provoke emotions, whatever they may be".
So what possess this style of unusual, yet surprisingly captivating artwork?
"As I grew up in the 80-90’s, I became really influenced by the pop culture of that time. It all started with Garbage Pail Kids, Ghostbusters, Gremlins and so many others... I also started to watch horror movies pretty early. At around 6 years old, I had that “Alice in Wonderland” VHS, except my parents recorded it over “The Thing” from Carpenter. Right after finishing “Alice in Wonderland”, the tape was switching on this gruesome scene. The creature is popping out of the belly and the head is falling on the floor, growing some spider legs. I got a lot of nightmares from it but I also thought it was fascinating...that was only the beginning!
As far as I remember, I always drew and the style developed through many years and, of course, it was also influenced by the different stages of my life. Now, I’m noticing that my style is really close to what I was drawing during my childhood, only now I have more skills.
During my teens, my drawings evolved into something that was extremely dark, morbid and gore. As I was trying to make it as realistic as possible, my goal was definitely to gross out people. I kept that style for a long time and I eventually stopped drawing for about 7 years. I came up with this idea when I started drawing again two years ago, showing the desire to get out of those dark times. It became something more positive, even if I totally accept where I came from".
Granted, Nicolas' art is very haunting and something you would expect to see in an animated horror film, however, each face possesses a sense of reality; which poses the question, "If your characters were brought to life, how would they act?"
"If my characters could talk, I think I would have a great time with them. I’m pretty sure they would be messy, enthusiastic, a little bit evil but friendly in their own way. Animation would be awesome but I don’t have that much experience in that field. A couple of years ago, some friends and I made a gore medical show with monstrous handmade latex puppets. I think I would love to work on something similar one day, I just need to make some time for it!"
Being an independent artist can have many limitations, including supporting one's self with a sustainable income. Nicolas shares with Reflexive how after several years, he was able to take the bold move of making his art into a full-time job, whilst continuing to explore different avenues of artwork for the foreseeable future.
"Lately, I have been working on an art cover for an artist I have been following for more than 10 years and that was probably one of the most exciting project that I’ve done so far, I can’t wait to share it! Anyway, I love working on commissions. I also would like to add more items to my Etsy shop, and the next step would be to work on a big personal project, maybe an illustration book, a comic or something completely different. Several years ago, I realised that being a self-employed artist was becoming a possibility. After working in a shop for 7 years, I finally made the big jump, decided to quit my job and realise my dream. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work on amazing projects. All of this wouldn't be possible without this support from my following and I’m sincerely grateful for it!"