Rick “Dienzo” Blanco is an LA based Artist who combines the cute and cuddly with dark and intriguing. His art is a marriage of traditional and cartoon styles. Rick is an award winning designer who has worked for Disney, Mattel and now with Cartoon Network.
He has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and executive MBA from Loyola Marymount University he resides in Los Angeles with his wife and sons. I was fortunate to have Rick answer some questions for me and it’s a privilege to share the conversation here.
David: Hello Rick, can you tell me about your work as an Artist and how you create your world of dark little characters?
Rick: Hi Dave, well the subject of my work is almost exclusively figural. Early in my career I experimented with still life’s, landscapes and abstracts but always came back to portraits as a focus. There’s something about looking at a person or character that forces us to think about ourselves or someone we know. It’s just human nature. I wanted to create a mood or tell a story by way of these characters that were reflections of my personality, people I knew or meaningful icons of pop culture.
David: You have some really great characters and art. I love “Wolfgang”, “Julian”, “Timmy Painting” and the list could go on. Do you have a favorite or one you hold really close as, “this is my baby”?
Rick: I’ve currently done over 100 paintings so it would be hard to pick a favorite because they are all my “children” so to speak. I suppose the longer I have them, the harder it is to sell them. I recently sold the original of “Sedusa” and that was a little weird to pack up and ship off. She has been a very popular image and I had the original in my studio for a couple of years. Luckily I have prints of almost all my works so they’re never really gone forever.
David: Your art is dark, yet “cute and cuddly”, which I love. Where does your inspiration come from with the juxtaposition of both worlds? Who or what are the greatest influences on your art?
Rick: I was always inspired by the Addams Family, The Munsters, Disney’s Haunted Mansion and spooky stuff that was still geared to kids. Don’t get me wrong, I like gruesome zombie flicks and getting the crap scared out of me too but I wanted the art to be accessible and endearing. You have a limited audience that will hang zombies and intestines on their walls. (Unless of course, they’re cute little zombie kids about to jump rope with the entrails.) Stylistically, Margaret Keane, Mark Ryden, Sas Christian and Lori Earley have impacted me greatly as far as the big-eye genre. I find the fashion sensibility within Gothic Lolita to be intriguing and it creates timelessness to the characters. I also try to create a bit of drama with my subjects and people comment that many of my characters exude an air of indifference or confidence, depending on how you look at it, which I think comes from old Hollywood glamour. Photographers like George Hurrell or Horst P. Horst were simply brilliant in their use of composition, lighting and tone. They created beautifully haunting images of these larger than life icons. So I like to think of it as painting Marlene Dietrich, Dita Von Teese and Shirley Temple all in one.
David: How would you like your Art to be remembered?
Rick:I’d hope that people would think of my work as bringing a particular warmth to darkness. – Halloween as a kid, Edward Scissorhands, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” Pumpkin Spice creamer in my coffee… good times.
David: When creating your work, what do you consider to be the greatest achievement?
Rick: When I started painting in this style, I created the name “Dienzo” as a tribute and legacy to my sons, Diego and Lorenzo. The fact that they like my art and think their dad has a cool job makes it all worth while.
David: Thank you Rick for taking the time to let us see a little of your world. It’s a privilege to talk with you about your Art.
Here are some links to find out more about the intriguing and unsettling Art world of Rick “Dienzo” Blanco, and what a great world it is!