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Dutch illustrator Raoul Deleo

Those of you who know me, will not be too surprised to see this post about illustration. I have a soft spot for it. So, logically, at the Dutch edition of the Affordable Art Fair last week, the work of Dutch illustrator Raoul Deleo caught my eye.

I wasn’t the only one that noticed his Terra Ultima project. The very first AAF Kids Curator’s Award was handed out to the same work I was admiring, his Libellula Lagoformosa (see picture below). All the more reason to write a little bit about this artist on Spoonful of Art.

Forgotten Animals

Raoul Deleo has many job titles. He is an illustrator, graphic designer, animator and an art director. Deleo works on commission but also finds time to work on his own projects.

The division between assigned work and the (usually) more creatively driven stuff is something you often see with people with a creative profession. The first one pays the bills, which enables the artist to do what he generally loves most: creating freely. Many artists don’t have the luxurious position of having both sides of the creative coin shine equally bright, though.

Lucky for Raoul Deleo, he proves that you can actually have successes on both paid jobs as well as your own free work. Maybe you have encountered his work already. If you live in Amsterdam, you might have seen the gorgeous series for the Amsterdam zoo, Natura Artis Magistra. Deleo created the campaign of the Forgotten Animals for them.

Or, if you are a reader of Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, you could have seen his fairytales last summer.

Raoul Deleo
Tapirs from the  ‘Forgotten Animals’ series, for the Amsterdam zoo Artis.
Raoul Deleo
An advertisement for Artis, in the Amsterdam streets.
Raoul Deleo
Raoul Deleo, Maimoenjak. Taken from the series ‘Fairytales’ for V, Volkskrant, 2016.

Terra Ultima

At the AFF, you could have seen some other creatures, namely Deleo’s Terra Ultima Project.

What does that mean, you might ask?

Over the last ten years, Deleo has been discovering and researching a new world, which he calls Terra Ultima. He refers to it as an undiscovered part of the earth. Deleo illustrates the creatures that he encounters there.

Because we are talking about newly discovered species, they have to be named properly. Deleo does this in a meticulous way, with the help of an expert in classical languages, Drs. A. Korevaar.

Together, they give the little critters their Latin or Greek name. The names are being constructed by the order principles of the Swedish plants and animals expert of the 18th century, Mr. Carl Linnaeus (remember, Systema Naturae, 1758? Of course you do).

Finally, to prove the beasts actually exists, the artworks that are framed have samples of the animals inside that framework. Like the feather of the Libellula Lagoformosa, or Sheen Green Harefly.

I will provide you with some examples of Deleo’s creatures, please see the pictures below. You can also find and watch a small video, where you can see the master at work. He is creating the Flamingo Fawn. My, if only I could draw like that. I find it the video truely magical and mesmerizing.

Imagine having one of those animals at home, on your bedroom wall? Or in one of the kids’ rooms? Or the kitchen, even? I am sure they could work everywhere. And they will definitely make for a nice topic to talk about for you and your guests.

You can view the  Terra Ultima-world on Tumblr. The prints of the creatures are for sale on the website of  Raoul Deleo  or through his Galerie Untitled in Rotterdam. Happy hunting!

Raoul Deleo
Raoul Deleo, Sheen Green Harefly (Libellula Lagoformosa), 2015. Part of the series Terra Ultima.
Raoul Deleo, Tuscan Twin Crab (Tucanogemina carcinoforma), 2015. Ingelijst.
Raoul Deleo, Tuscan Twin Crab (Tucanogemina carcinoforma), 2015. Framed.
Een sample van de Libellula Lagoformosa.
A sample of the Libellula Lagoformosa.

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