Note: This interview first appeared in the now defunct WHIP! magazine.
Something I really love about running an online magazine is how you can suddenly come into contact with an artist you hadn’t previously heard of who lives in a country you’ve never visited.
And that’s how Whip! found Mario Labate: an illustrator living in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mixing psychedelic pop art imagery, punk mayhem, b-movies and S&M and fetishism, Mario creates a carnival of chaos in his illustrations. I really love his sense of humour and the little stories he creates. In this sense, he’s an artist in the truest way. Have a read and a look his work below and I think you’ll be as enthusiastic as I am!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mario Labate…
When did you first start drawing?
I started drawing very early. I always loved the Marvel and DC comics heroes. Then I started to try some sketches when I was seven years old. After that I started to create my own characters.
At that time only my relatives and some close friends saw my drawings. Later, at the age of fourteen, I began to publish my fanzines. I made these alternative publications for two decades. I met several people who also published alternative magazines and started to collaborate with them. It was the first step to publicizing my work.
What kind of illustration work excites you?
Wow! I like all illustrations with women. My drawing style changed after I discovered great artists who drew beautiful girls.
I can guess where some of your influences come from, but tell us about what you enjoy:
I love the art of Frank Frazetta, Guido Crepax, Georges Pichard, Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri, Milo Manara…
I like horror, sci-fi and Sadomasochism art. Magazines like Creepy, Vampirella, Eerie, 1984, Metal Hurlant and Heavy Metal were a great influence in my work.
I also need to add music as another important influence on my work. Bands like The Cramps, The Stooges, Screaming Jay Hawkins, The Reverend Horton Heat, Messer Chups, The Velvet Underground among others.
Do you have an idea in mind before you start drawing or do you simply go with it? How long does it take you to create a drawing from start to finish?
I always have something in my mind before I start to drawing. But sometimes I see something when I am walking on the street then I say “Hey! this is could be a great piece of artwork!” A picture in a magazine can also wake up an idea.
Looking at your work it feels like we’re wandering through the corners of your mind – is that what it’s like for you when you’re drawing?
Yes! I believe in that. After all we put our thoughts to paper. I think the art tells a little about the artist. Of course there are works of art that we make by order. But it’s fantastic when you can draw with free expression.
I like the way you have stories or themes like ‘Man’s Ruin’, ‘The Exterminator’ , ‘Voodoo Work’ – tell us about the little visual stories you create:
Well, some of these stories just pop up in my mind, others are influences from the music of the bands I like and also the conversations between friends I listen to in bars.
The Man’s Ruin by Mario Labate
How important is humour to you and your drawings?
Humour is very important to me. I’m very happy when someone laughs at one of my cartoons. Here in Brazil many people go through difficulties. Lack of jobs, money, housing … So when you make someone laugh, it’s priceless.
I obviously really love your dominatrix illustrations – are you planning on doing more of them? And where does the inspiration for these come from?
Yes! I want to do many other arts. I love to draw sadomasochistic women. I love bad girls.
Well, the inspiration comes from the movies, comic books, Bettie Page, Poison Ivy from The Cramps, from the sexy-looking girls I see on the streets. You will see new work soon. I promise.
What kind of pop art and illustration culture is there in Brazil? And what is the fetish and S&M culture like in Brazil?
Artists in Brazil do not have much space to promote their art. In fact, being an artist in Brazil is an adventure. The great majority of the artists have other works and only in the vacant hours can draw. There are independent comic magazines and the street artists who make their graffiti.
I only knew one place here in São Paulo that promoted fetishes parties. The name of the event was “Fetish for fun”. It was an amazing party !! Well, if there are any nowadays I do not know …
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on a comic book magazine. It’s something that takes a lot of my time, but I’m sure in the end it will be worth it.
You can find Mario online at the following links:
Mario’s blog, Flickr, Facebook