Interviews: Livio Ramondelli
Livio Ramondelli was introduced to "Transformers" fans by his work in the IDW "Chaos" series. His distinctive and atmospheric style differed quite a bit from the more traditional "Transformers" comic book artwork. Ramondelli received a Masters Degree from The Academy of Art University, as well as a Bachelor's degree from the Pennsylvania State University. He has worked for Wildstorm and on the "DC Universe Online" MMO. BWTF was fortunate enough to interview Mr. Ramondelli about his career and work on "Transformers".
1. Please tell us about your background. When did you know you wanted to become an artist? What inspired you to move in that direction as a profession?
Like a lot of kids, I was drawing and scribbling from the moment I could hold a crayon. Growing up, I knew I always wanted to do something with art but I had a few different interests..comic books and movies were both major for me. I was lucky enough to get to go to art school, which really helped me focus my skills. After that, I got hired by Jim Lee at WildStorm/DC Comics. And I continued to learn every day from the great stable of artists that were working there. I was there for about four years, doing design work on various videogames,etc. During that time, I got to meet Andy Schmidt and Chris Ryall, and that really opened the doors for me to come to IDW. When WildStorm folded, I jumped at the chance to draw Transformers and luckily, they offered me a series called Chaos. And since then, it's been a true blast working with them. It's been great to take the same passion and excitement I had for comics as a kid, and get to finally do it professionally.
2. You have a very bold and unique style. Can you tell us what influenced this style?
I think a lot of the influence comes from the animated film, actually. The gritty textures of the worlds it showed, and really the detail and sometimes the damage it would show on the robots was a big influence on me. I'm also a huge fan of cinematic lighting, and so I try to give my art an atmospheric feel..to hopefully put the characters into different types of settings and feel like they're interacting with the world around them.
3. Were you always a Transformers fan or was this your first exposure to working on the brand?
I have been a huge Transformers fan since I was a kid. The original cartoon series had a big impact on me. And the animated movie still shocks me with how brutal and violent it is, it really feels like an actual war with casualties. And then years later when the live action movies began to be released, it was just such an amazing thrill to hear Peter Cullen's voice on the big screen.
So, as a lifelong fan, I felt beyond lucky at the chance to get to draw Transformers professionally.
4. When you first get a script, what is your approach to illustrating the comic book?
When I get a script, I first do rough layouts for the whole issue. These are pretty loose, and sometimes have little notes scribbled on them to let the writers and editors know what I'm thinking. After that, I do detailed lineart for every page which is done with pencil on traditional bristol board. After that, I scan in the pages and do all the coloring digitally.
5. What is a memorable response you've had to your work?
I'd say hearing Flint Dille say how much he enjoyed it was a pretty huge moment for me, just being a fan of the original series and of Flint in general.
6. What is your dream project?
Transformers:Autocracy really is a dream project. It's the sort of epic, sprawling Transformers story I always hoped to get to draw..and working with Flint Dille and Chris Metzen has been a dream come true. I really feel like I've gotten to work on a really cool, important TF story and a pivotal one for my favorite character, Optimus Prime.
7. What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
The best advice I've found and can pass on to other artists is this- your art is important, but being a reliable artist and one that's easy to work with is just as important. No one wants to work with someone who can't return E-Mails or make deadlines..no matter how good the art is. If you really want to make a career as an artist, treat it as professionally as you possibly can and then people will know they can count on you.
BWTF offers its sincerest thanks to Mr. Ramondelli for taking the time out for this interview. You can visit his official web site at: http://www.livioramondelli.com/.