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One of the questions that we are asked more frequently is how we’ve found the artists we represent. We don’t have a rule set in stone: some artists contacted us, or sometimes it was the other way around and we made the first move. Or sometimes the artist belonged to the Machas Artist Network and after working together on a project we found ourselves thinking: “You know what? This guy is great, and ticks off all the right boxes — why not!”.
That is exactly how the story went with Ray Oranges: he has been on our Network for a while and after we worked together on a US campaign we understood that not just he has an incredible talent but he’s also a great guy, very professional and fun to work with — in fact it was not rare to see Valentina giggling behind her computer screen while working with Ray!
There is definitely something special about Ray’s artwork, especially the more abstract illustrations: he has the ability tell a whole story with just few well chosen details. The absence of cluttering matter, enhanced by the mastery use of long shadows and bursts of light, creates an emotional response in the viewer.
Although the message is always well communicated, strong and to the point, it’s never aggressive. Ray’s artwork doesn’t aim at shouting louder than all its surroundings — it doesn’t have to. The skilful use of full and empty spaces in the composition, with a predominance of the latter, is open territory for the viewer’s to fill it with one’s feelings, one’s experiences, feelings and experiences, creating a sort of meaningful dialogue with the viewer rather than establishing a relationship of command.
Since Ray’s illustration debut with editorial work, his style has rapidly evolved and is now exploring different outlets such as advertising and animation, whilst keeping his love for editorial illustration alive and kicking.
As per Machas’ tradition we met up with Ray to have a chat and get to know him better.
When did you start drawing?
RO: As a kid I had this magnifying glass and I used it to etch with the sunlight the plywood sheets I found in the garden. I drew what I saw around or the images I had in my mind, plus I loved the smell of burned wood! I think I’ve always been fascinated with bright colours, vast spaces and the shadows created by the sun.
You have a degree in graphic design and you weren’t always involved in illustration, correct?
RO: Yes. As soon as I’ve graduated I worked with different agencies and architecture studios. I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and I think that this experience has consolidated my passion for geometries and clean lines. I love geometry in illustration however I try to mellow the harshness of it by connecting them with flowing lines.
What’s your creative process?
RO: The first step is to turn on the music and blast out some tunes: Apparat, Jon Hopkins, Vector Lovers, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Daft Punk. Then I jot down all the words associated with the brief, I find the connections between these words and I write down other words associated with them. Next step is to represent all these words in the space of the illustration, trying to find a balance. When I’m happy with the result I make everything digital.
What does inspire you?
RO: Everything that surrounds me is a source of inspiration, as well as experiences and people. However I try to keep a minimal approach, without adding unnecessary details.
Why did you join Machas?
RO: We worked together and it was a very good experience, so I thought it would be great to be a part of this team.
You mean basket team, right? You must have known that we have other basketball players like yourself in Machas (like Jonathan Calugi) and you want to start a team!
RO: of course! I can totally see the parquet, the outfit, the ball — all designed by Machas Artists. We would make tournaments up against other agencies but we will trash them because we have Calugi!
Last but not least: is Ray your real name?
RO: Not really. I was Paris and after spending the a whole day at the Centre Pompidou I realised that the artist that impressed me the most was Man Ray. Ray sounds good with Oranges, my real surname, so it stuck with me.