July 12th, 2017
Ronn Kools is one of those artists whose work just brightens your day, the same way that William Wegman's Weimaraner dog portraits do! There’s something refreshing about seeing animals with Human Characteristics. What I like specifically about Ronn’s work are the details: of course a cat would be a badass biker with a skull scarf! The styled hair, just like humans, is just witty and fun and the perfect conversation piece for any home.
Where are you from?
I was born in a small town in The Netherlands with the impressive name: Wouw
How did you get started in Art?
For as long as I can remember I have been drawing. When I was a child at school we used to have a drawing competition every year, and every year the prize was a Rubik's Cube. By the time I finished school there, I had a collection. It was funny. I still have one of them in my studio.
After high school I went to art school, and got a BA in graphic design. I worked as a graphic designer for quite a few years, but always kept drawing, and painting. In 2015 I had my first solo exhibition with my oil paintings in Recife, Brazil. From that moment I decided to leave graphic design and concentrate all my attention to art.
How would you describe your style?
Old school. My works are created with a simple Bic ballpoint pen on paper. The pieces I create are mainly portraits built out of thousands and thousands of lines.
What is your favourite animal to draw and why?
Usually my favorite animal to draw is the last one I have drawn. In this case “Punk Panda”. I never drew a panda before, but I really loved creating this little fellow. Pandas simply always seem happy and relaxed, and it was just great having that energy in the studio for a few weeks, seeing him come to life.
Would you rather fight 100 Duck-sized Horses or 1 Horse-sized duck and why?
I would definitely go for the 100 Duck-sized Horses. Just the idea of that is just so cute. It would be a pillow fight, of course.
What is the most challenging thing to draw and why?
Glasses. You can go wrong very easily with them. They have to be the exact same shape, but mirrored. They are not my favorite object to draw, but I love the effect they can have. So, if I think glasses will add to the model, then I will definitely go for it anyway.
Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
Inspiration is everywhere. “Don’t Pussy Me” was inspired after adopting a little kitten I found in the street.
“Doca Bowie” is based on the dog of a friend, whose name is Bowie, and has two different colored eyes. The inspiration for “Suusi Kahlo” came from one of my personal heroes, Frida Kahlo. And “Punk Panda” is actually based on a little love story, as one of my friends - who was nicknamed little bird - nicknamed her boyfriend her panda. Like I said: from everywhere.
If you could be any type of animal, what would it be and why?
Very often when I see my cat sleeping, which is about 20 hours a day, I would think that she has the perfect life. But doing nothing all day would drive me crazy. Therefore, I would go for an otter. They have such amazing energy. They are very playful, and always seem happy.
As an artist who draws animals I would think that nature and conservation are probably very important to you. What can we do as people to ensure that these animals will be around for future generations and not just images from artists?
The answer is simple. We should stop killing animals.
Hunting should be illegal! If people fight that idea with the fact that if we would do nothing we would have an overpopulation of certain animals, then perhaps we should look into ways of not having them reproduce as much.
Besides that, I think we - people - should stop using animals as product-producing things. Millions of animals live in horrible situations because - for example - a lot of people still want a piece of meat on their plate. I went vegan last year, and have never felt better. I believe people going vegan would be a gigantic step forward to preserving nature.
How did you come up with the concept of making animals with human characteristics?
The concept has been around for a while. I had seen some silk screen and digital artists play around with the idea in the past. But I hadn’t seen anyone work with this concept with the technique that I was already using, detailed ballpoint drawings. Giving my drawings all these details also gives them more character. I think it’s those characteristics which make people connect to them.
The details in your work are outstanding! How long does a piece typically take to complete?
Thank you. It depends a bit on the size, but a drawing usually takes about two to three weeks.
What is the complete process for creating a single piece from start to finish?
My first decision of course will be to choose which animal is gonna be the model for the drawing. The next step will be which elements, human characteristics, I want to add. This completely depends on the character that I am going for. Then I set up a very light sketch with a pencil. Before drawing the animal portraits I would use ink from the start, but since my drawings have become more and more detailed, and take quite a lot of time to create, I chose using a pencil first to avoid some mistakes. From then on I start with the darker shadows in the composition with a light grey, pressing the pen way less, and from there I keep filling in details and working darker and darker with more pressure on the pen until it’s finished. “Docga Bowie” and “Suusi Kahlo” both got a version with some colored elements. These I added digitally after scanning them.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what type of music do you listen to?
My iTunes is always on when I am in the studio. My taste is rather eclectic, but most of the time I listen to Pop music. Every animal usually brings me into a different mood and gets its own sort of soundtrack. My latest drawing “Punk Panda” was born with a lot of Blondie playing in the background.
What brands do you prefer for your work? Are there specific reasons why?
All my clients are private collectors, but if I would have to choose I would choose a vegan brand at the moment. Because I hope my drawings will make people look at animals as other beings, and not just as products, that would make perfect sense to me.
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O Cookies?
Neither. Let’s order a vegan pizza with a few bottles of wine.