Rodrigo Luff is a 23-year-old artist from Sydney, Australia who uses traditional mediums like pencil, pastel, and oil to create ethereal works of art. His surreal-style recently caught the eye of contemporary art magazine Hi Fructose who called him a “young emerging artist” and one who, they think, may have a bright future ahead. Indeed, looking through his portfolio, you can’t help but get lost in his work.
Though we’re all used to seeing incredible digital art these days, there’s something about traditional art that still amazes us. To see what I mean, check out his work below including the moleskin pieces toward the end. Also, read our interview with him where he talks about everything from his inspiration to the internet.
You’re just 23 years old. When did you start drawing or oil painting and what led you down this creative path?
I have no idea when I started, I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. When I was really young I was drawing whatever I was reading about at the time because I read a lot of different stuff. It was always a fun way to express what I enjoyed. I only started oil painting a few years ago, and have not been doing it regularly enough, but I love it.
Do you have any formal training in art?
I studied for three years spread out over four years at an art school here in Sydney. It was awesome because we had live models in there all the time, and I was exposed and influenced by all the teachers’ individual approaches. It was a good way to learn to draw and paint the figure.
Who are some artists that influence you? I feel like there’s some of James Jean’s influence in your work…
Definitely, along with Klimt, Mucha, Waterhouse, Sargent, Repin…too many to name, along with current artists like my teachers and friends, lots of artists from forums like Gorilla Artfare, concept art.org and more, there’s way too many to name. Miyazaki is one of my favourites of all time. Writers that have strange and interesting things to say like Alan Moore, Philip K Dick and Susan Blackmore. But at the moment I’m trying to branch out to other artists that I didn’t appreciate before, and learning to broaden my views and learn new ways to express ideas.
How has the internet helped you with your career?
It’s saved me. The websites like conceptart.org, Gorilla Artfare and other art forums were a great place to get inspiration, guidance and help. I didn’t even know it was possible to draw as good as the stuff I was exposed to. It always keeps me in perspective, all the amazing stuff out there and I’m still like, “Damn, I suck compared to these people!” I have a few exhibitions coming up next year in the states, around LA which came just through the internet and being lucky enough to have people wanting to involve me in their exhibitions. I am really grateful to my friend Lindsay for building my website for free, and all the people who support and help me on the path.
Where do your surreal ideas come from, what’s your creative process like?
The surreal aspects are a way to express a feeling or idea without worrying too much about reality and relying more on my silly intuition and imagination. Nature always inspired ideas. Leaving parts unplanned always leaves room for having more fun and surprising yourself (or sometimes messing it up completely!). At the moment I’m trying to spend more time preparing for images, because I really enjoy the process of taking an idea and doing studies and all the little problems that need solving. Once that’s worked out, it’s easier to be more creative in the final version. I’m still learning about that all the time though.
Which piece have most people responded to and why?
I think it’s the sketchbook project I’m doing at the Hi Fructose blog, because I’m trying to fill an expensive sketchbook from cover to cover, and I’ve always ripped out pages or started new ones. I think it’s the personal aspect of following someone trying to get better at something they suck at, and watching the progress and learning. I also experiment a lot in there and it’s more fun than my normal work.
Any website you go to for creative inspiration?
Yeah, photography websites like Boston’s Big Picture or National Geographic, some of those space images are so amazing. I love reading about futurists that are trying to predict where technology will be in the future and all the acceleration of information and the overwhelming tide of media- from images, to art, to music, etc. There are too many art websites to name but blogs out there like gorilla artfare, Hi fructose, Gurney Journey, Cure the Blind, Lines and Colours, Underpaintings and the Grand Central Academy blog.
Any tips or advice you’d give to artists just starting out?
I’d say to make sure you are having fun and learn from your mistakes, because for me it’s always a struggle to implement what I learn and it often takes a lot of failed works to understand where I went wrong and how to avoid it. Don’t be afraid to start again, slow down, erase what you’ve done or to experiment when the inspiration gets stale. I just think it’s a process of actively seeking learning and finding new ideas or techniques to get excited about. As cheesy as it sounds, I also realized how important it is to forget the destination and enjoy the journey. I still have a long way to go, so I’m not really qualified to preach anything, we’re all different.