If you like all things sinister, spooky and damn right hilarious. Steven Rhodes’s illustrations are going to be right up your street. With works featuring demons, zombies and even SPORTS, Steven is a dab hand at reviving the charm of the 70s in a wicked way. We sit down with Steven to discuss his swanky new greeting card range with Ohh Deer and what inspired his kitschy creations.
Hey there Steven!
Your illustrations stand out on the shelves due to their bold retro styles and witty use of words. What sparked this love of all things vintage and old-school?
Thanks! I think a big part of my appreciation of this style comes from nostalgic memories of my childhood. I'm a child of the 80s so there's a heavy influence from retro kids books, VHS movie covers, 80s toy packaging and video arcades, with a healthy dose of sci-fi art and creepy comics thrown in the mix. We had Transformers and He-Man and Star Wars bed sheets. It was a good time to be a kid.
Ah yes the old school VHS! Your collections are built upon dark humour, where does this type of humour come from? Are you man who loves the odd horror film and supernatural story?
I've always had a pretty dry and sarcastic sense of humour and I love a pitch-black comedy. The satirical aspect of my work does tend to get lost on some easily-offended people though.
I was never a hardcore horror fan but I definitely appreciate the 80s golden-era classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Poltergeist, Evil Dead, The Thing etc. Not to mention some of the contemporary tv shows and films that borrow from that aesthetic like Stranger Things and It Follows. Also Wes Anderson's films have an amazing 70s Polaroid photo quality to them.
With the 70s and 80s being the predominant design style of your portfolio, would you say these are your favourite design eras and what/who are your inspirations in this field?
Yeah I'd say so. I'm also really into the Mid Century style (particularly space-age atomic, tiki culture and modernist architecture) but more recently my interests have evolved into the 70s and early 80s. There's just something about those kitschy curved borders, swash-heavy fonts and the colours from that period that really speak to me. It seemed like a time where designers were making some experimental choices and taking some creative risks. I also love a lot of the grindhouse/exploitation movies that came out of that era.
It’s wonderful that you’re inspired by so many interesting things! We seem to know so much about your cards and illustrations, but what about the man behind them. What do you get up to when you’re not creating?
My wife and I live in a mid century styled apartment so we spend a lot of time scouting the antique stores looking for treasures. We're also lucky to live near some beautiful rainforests so spending a weekend in a mountain cabin is my idea of fun. I'm a massive introvert. I'm also a movie buff and, much to the frustration of my wife, I enjoy videos about the making of movies about as much as the movies themselves.
The life of Steven Rhodes sounds wonderful! What’s your favourite card in your swanky new range? Ours is the classic “Who the fuck cares”.
Hehe, I think 'Let's Run Away From Our Problems' probably sums me up the best. I still haven't gotten used to this whole 'being an adult' business and I like the idea of a guide book for avoiding life's responsibilities and hiding from your problems. I think there's probably a big market for that sort of thing ;)
And as a final note, do you have any super exciting projects coming up in the future?
Nothing major. I've got a huge list of design ideas that I haven't gotten around to, so I'm looking forward to taking a little break from commissions and diving deep into some weird new designs!
Thanks Steven, we can’t wait to see some even weirder illustrations!