Exhibitionist in Residence Brian Roppel's imagination runs wild — in GIF form
His art is about a childlike sense of naivete. But when he was a kid himself, his approach was the opposite
When Brian Roppel was a kid, he would obsess over realistic fantasy paintings and illustrations — "concept art for Warcraft and stuff" — the kind of work he would toil over recreating, amazed by the level of detail. "I wanted to do that as well," he remembers.
Roppel is a recent grad of Sheridan College's illustration program and a contributor to publications like the Feathertale Review. Whenever he makes something new, he says, he's revisiting his childhood in a sense. But his style isn't anything like Warcraft's painted orcs and demons. It's pretty much the opposite — as you'll see Sunday when Exhibitionists puts his animation in the spotlight.
"Really, my work is about having a sense of humour about things," Roppel tells CBC Arts. "There's usually some sort of reference to being a kid," he says, though maybe not literally his childhood. It's more about "being childlike about how an idea is expressed, not necessarily paying attention to how things are represented in real life."
In Roppel's art, it's okay to be "cartoony, silly, wonky." Take this GIF about gaming addiction, for example.
"Maybe people's arms look broken. Perspective is only something I use when I feel it's necessary," Roppel says of his style. "There has to be a certain level of detachment, or just letting go of rules or boundaries because that's the way I feel comfortable working."
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"Everything I make starts as a still image," Roppel explains, talking about his personal work. (By day, the artist has a job at an animation studio.) "It usually starts with a metaphor," he continues. This GIF, for example, is all about gossip, and the way a whole community of people is equally to blame for spreading rumours. "It starts as a scene in my mind that's not necessarily moving, but has the potential to move."
"I like my work to feel like someone could look at it and say 'Hey, I could do that,'" Roppel says — just like he was first inspired to re-create Warcraft creatures as a kid. "I feel that's maybe the charm of it."
Are you our next Exhibitionist in Residence? E-mail CBC Arts and your work could appear on the next episode of Exhibitionists!