Interview No Cure Magazine
Born in Viña del Mar, Chile, Alvaro Tapia studied graphic desing and then cinema before opening up a desing and video production studio with two partners in Vaparaiso.
He them moved to Spain, working as an art director for a marketing agency before becoming a professional illustrator in Manchester.
"My first love was graphic desing, which later turned into animation and from there into film," Tapia says. "I started exploring illustration about four years ago, and it has been my main activity for two years now."
"They are definitely all complementary activities. I think it's good to have some variation in one's endeavors. i'm quite interested now in sound creation - Recording sound and manipulating it, creating textures, atmospheres and sound pieces."
Tapia returned to his hometown of Viña del Mar last year to put down roots with his partner and eight-month-old son.
life certainly mellowed for the 39-year-old since he became a family man; late nights out at bars with friends have been replaced by relaxing dinners at home. But the same can't be said for this work, which remains intense and shocking.
Tapia takes inspiration from Goya, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freaud, Paula Rego and Jenny Saville, along with "pop culture, mainly film, dark characters and outsiders. As for the visual part, I'm interested in finding beauty in the grotesque and disturbing and sinister in the ordinary"
I ask about his treatment of the genders - maniacal, evil-looking men and wicked, beautiful women - and whether this is a conscious or subconscious portrayal.
"i think you're right," he muses. "i had not seen it that way though.
"It is unconscious, but i do generally work with references of mysterious and seductive women - femme fatales - who are later distorted under my own view but without losing their main essence.
"[With] men, I am interesed in taking out the sinister they have inside, but in a more rough, grotesque way."
When it comes to the different facets of his work, Tapia says he really enjoys collaborating with musicians to create album artwork, especially on projects that incorporate different disciplines – illustration, graphic design, video, motion graphics, etc.
“I’m very satisfied with the projects I’ve taken on in that area, like the artwork for the Magical Thinking album by Chico Mann. “I'm also very happy with the ongoing collaboration with Dirty Art Club, in which we have created a visual approach consistent with their sound for their album cover and video clip. I‘d really like to work more on this kind of artwork.”
I ask Tapia about dream projects and who he’d most like to be commissioned to create a portrait of.
“I’d have loved [to be commissioned to do] a portrait of the former pope Joseph Ratzinger. I would have paid a tribute to Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
“I would also be thrilled if I were commissioned to illustrate a gallery of the most infamous criminals in the history of mankind – a selection of the darkest side of the human condition.”