Wolfmans, Satyrs and Devils
Photos by Ian O’Phelan
- Text by GTR
Perhaps it was a couple of months, maybe three, since the first time I saw an illustration of Ian O’Phelan. I clearly remember browsing my Instagram account when (can’t recall if it was a shared post or a suggestion) an image of this talented artist and designer showed up in my dashboard. I was taking an editorial course back then, making a couple of mockup pages to establishing the idea of a possible magazine. Ian was the first prospect to display in this prototype, but in the end I decided otherwise.
I’m not saying this work is not vivid, after all, the following pages feature only a small part of it. In fact, if you browse his available portfolio you’ll find a full variety of tints, like a collective set of individual rainbows. His work features mostly a semi-screenprinting and color-layering approach, but he also manipulates photography, whole images & type, creates harmonic patterns and develop concepts beyond that distinctive psychedelic style of his: he’s quite versatile but without loosing his touch.
Ian describes his college studies as a “Frankenstein curriculum of fine art and graphic design.” so, when looking at his images, I couldn’t stop thinking that they probably came out of an illustrated fairytale book. In fact, they reminded me a lot to an old storybook (Hansel and Gretel, illus. by Susan Jeffers), somehow Ian’s portraits prompted that constant reference the artist made on the pebbles: they where everywhere.
Although these pictures have nothing to do with pebbles, when something is so strongly evocative one must really point it out.
This set is a collection of his Big Bad Wolf, Faun and Devil hashtags. Although the olive-crowned portraits are not under any of these, they’re attached as a complement. As all of Ian’s illustrated portraits, his technique on portrayal is exquisite and the way he captures physique and expressions with inks, masterful. Ideal to inspire, company or describe a rather erotical or horror tale, his portraits will make you shiver, or probably, make you recall something from your childhood.