Interview with Roberts Rurans

“Mostly I’ve heard my work evokes a smile, excitement and positive feelings in general. It comes out naturally and I think it’s for the good as this world can be a pretty dark place.”

Hello, Roberts!
How would you describe yourself – who is Roberts Rurans?
Roberts Rurans is a Latvian illustrator (1st of November 1990), best known for getting the “best husband in the world” award and continue holding the “oldest sibling” title. Roberts is a father of two, a lover of one and an enemy to none.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey into illustration?
I’ve been drawing ever since the kinder garden, but I think I can largely thank my parents for their support and approval of what I do and actually taking me to art schools, even when I didn’t feel like going. I’m also grateful to my colleagues from a graphic design studio where I worked part-time for a few years while studying – they gave up their hopes of me becoming an OK designer, but rather saw the potential for a not-so-bad illustrator. They helped to make my first steps towards this career. After that, I finished my studies, worked a bit in freelance, had an adventurous few years in co-founding a graphic design studio, left and found my current visual style at the same time. Now I’m freelancing again and I’m really happy for the opportunity to work with great clients all over the world.

Can creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
I think there’s always a feeling that can be become a muscle with some work.

How would you define your own style and what kind of emotions do you try to awaken with it? What/Who inspires your personal style?
I think my style is a mix between the modern aesthetics of visual simplicity and traditional technique, influenced by early modernist painters. It gets to be artsy and approachable yet does not lose the potential for commercial use. 

Mostly I’ve heard my work evokes a smile, excitement and positive feelings in general. It comes out naturally and I think it’s for the good as this world can be a pretty dark place.

Why your characters in your artworks have faces without eyes, noses or eyebrows?
I try to simplify forms and avoid the inclusion of small details in my compositions as they’re usually unnecessary both visually and conceptually. Mouth and body language are enough to convey emotions, so I go with that.

Do you usually paint by hand or digitally?
Everything I do is hand-painted with acrylic on paper with the addition of some digital cleaning and post-production in the end. 

Have you ever experienced a creative block? If so how did you manage to get it over?
Sometimes I get stuck on finding a good idea for a project, but the pressure of time has always helped me to get it together, make a decision and go with it. I haven’t had a creative block in a way that it would affect me being creative or productive in the long-term, thankfully.

What advice would you give your younger self at the beginning of your career? 
To be patient.

What is your least favourite colour?
Every colour has some tones I’m particularly not fond of, but violet, to my eye, has the most. I try to avoid it whenever I can.

Have you ever wanted to be a master of something?
I’m trying to become one in illustration, but lately, I’ve also started to bake my own sour-dough bread. I like the thought of being a master of one dish.

Can you say the advantage & disadvantages of being an illustrator? If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?
No disadvantages people, hear this! Ok, the only disadvantage is irregular cash flow. But that can be manageable with some savings. Other than that it’s doing what you’d love to do anyway and get paid for it. No sentiment for ending weekends or hate for ever-around-the-corner Mondays. Work is a pleasure, really, plus you get a flexible schedule and positive feedback from the clients and society in general. What’s not to love?
If I wasn’t an illustrator, I’d be a graphic designer, if not a graphic designer then a carpenter, or a baker maybe. I think I’d always want to feel the satisfaction of seeing a tangible result in my work.

What are your top five songs on your playlist?

Where are your favorite spots in Riga? Food, coffee, shops, etc. 

  • FOOD
    • Foodbox — Best kebab in town.
    • Stockpot Riga — Place to get lunch at.
    • Singh’s – Best Indian food in town.
    • Mañana — The best Mexican food and snacks. 
    • Rocket Bean Roastery and Stars Coffee — excellent coffee, food, atmosphere, and location.
    • Mr. Page bookstore — Has one of a kind books (in English), a lovely atmosphere and a good location. And you can get a glass of vine there.
  • BARS
    • Vest — Cool place to hang out at.
    • Tallinn Street Quarter has lots of cafes, bars, street food, parties, and events happening every week.
    • Zuzeum — Pretty hip art center.
    • Kim? — Contemporary art gallery.
    • Latvian National Museum of Art — I think the name says it all.

Have you found any inspiration in an unexpected place recently?
Not really, only the expected places: the forest and the internet.

What other illustrators/designers are you digging these days?
Oh so many, that’s going to be like choosing the top 5 songs from my list… I’m inspired by the good work of Sophy Hollington, Javier Jaén, Karolis Strautniekas, Martin Nicolausson, and Sara Andreasson, to name a few.

Are you obsessed with something?
I don’t think “obsessed” is the right word, but I really like fresh bread from the oven, mushroom picking, fishing, good food, and a good read.

Could you give us three fun facts about yourself?
1. I’ve broken my small toe while having a bath.
2. I use to know the names of all the Pokemon (151).
3. I use to sell my drawings to my patron classmates in elementary school. So I guess you could say I’ve been in the business for some time already.

Finally, is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Thank you!
There isn’t a specific question that comes to mind, but it’s always a pleasure to see an informed interviewer who asks “customized” and thoughtful questions.

Thank you!