For each Radisson RED hotel we invite local artists to decorate the walls of the hotel with their work. For the Brussels hotel, we invited local cartoonist Wauter Mannaert to show us what he could do. Check out what he had to say about his main inspirations and some exciting new projects.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a Brussels based illustrator and comic artist. I studied animation film (also in Brussels) but switched to comics because the stories I tell are always way too complex for an animation. Creating animated films can be very labor intensive and time consuming. That’s not to say that comics are a ‘fast’ medium though; one book takes me at least a year and my first comic took me four years to complete!
It’s not the only switch I ever did. When I finished my studies in 2002, I started making electronic music on two gameboys. It started off as a joke, but quickly became more serious. I found a nice music scene with lots of likeminded people and started playing concerts all over Europe. It was fun, but after four years I realized my future was elsewhere.
What made you specialize in cartoon style drawing?
In Belgium, nearly everybody grows up with cartoons. I can remember looking at the pictures before I was able to read. I can still feel the frustration I felt because I wasn’t able to understand what the characters were talking about. Comics were everywhere and I always had my nose in them. When I went to art school I initially tried to draw differently, but always gravitated back to cartoons. For a long time, it was only considered a medium for kids, but when I was studying, it became an adult medium (or perhaps it became more adult as a medium). At this time, lots of interesting and exciting work popped up everywhere in the shops. There was a real comic boom between 2000 and 2010 and I wanted to be part of that.
Can you tell us about your artwork in the Radisson RED Brussels hotel? What were your main sources of inspiration behind the piece?
The hotel used fragments from my first comic Ondergronds (Underground) and a funny autobiographical comic strip I made for a Brussels news paper. Those fragments were printed and are used in the bar, the bedrooms and the bathrooms. On the ground floor however, I created a lot of new pieces directly on the walls. This was incredible fun as the hotel let me improvise on the spot. It’s interesting (and sometimes a bit scary) to see what comes out of your head when you are ‘doodling away’ on a huge wall, with a live audience passing by all the time. Inspiration came mostly from my own life; stuff you can find in my house, books I read, the plants I try to grow on my balcony, my friends…
Do you have any other projects and collaborations you can tell us about?
Sure! There were two artists who did the artwork for the Radisson RED Brussels hotel – myself and Max De Radiguès. I have actually just finished a new comic with Max about the famous press photographer, Weegee (based in New York during the 30’s and 40’s. If you don’t know his work, look it up!!). Max wrote the script and I created the art. It’s a graphic novel based on his life and work, both of which are pretty eccentric and spectacular! Weegee will be published in French and Dutch and will be released in September 2016.
Where else can people go to view your work?
For those in Brussels, I have a weekly cartoon and some monthly strips in BRUZZ, a local -free- newspaper. For people who read Dutch, my latest comic ‘El Mesías’ is one-year-old but can still be found in the shops (and will also soon be translated to French – December 2016).
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