Ramon Keimig is an artist with strong roots in DIY culture. Constantly switching between analogue and digital means of creating, Ramon’s work is “dedicated to the field of visual experimentation, self-sampling, and exploring the limits of the artist’s own formal language.” Here at So Young, our first connection with Ramon was when he illustrated Folly Group for issue twenty-five of the magazine. Now, we dig a little deeper into his history and process.
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What led you to become an illustrator?
I got into an illustration practice rather by accident. My first point of contact with illustration must have been cover art of heavy metal albums, from there I had always an attraction to outlandish imagery. First I studied illustration and graphic design and now I’m studying art in Offenbach am Main, Germany. During my first studies I started making posters for music events and zines. This practice then led in a roundabout way to many small and bigger jobs for musicians, venues and also editorial illustrations.
Do you remember the first piece of art that resonated with you as a child?
It must have been Botticelli’s Birth of Venus! I discovered the painting in a double-page spread of one of my grandfather’s books. He bought a popular science book on myths, from antiquity to modern UFO myths, for us. For some reason, the Birth of Venus particularly stuck in my mind. However, I have never done much research on the image in my life. It is rather simply a memory of the first consciously perceived and longer contemplated image. Perhaps I should read something about it. I still have, without having chosen it, a folder that shows Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. The picture seems to want to stay with me.
Please describe your creative process and the relationship between your use of analogue and digital methods.
I like to switch a lot between analogue and digital means of creating. My works often go through the scanner into the computer, only to be printed out again afterwards and alienated in analogue form. I like to do it the other way around, too, of course. It’s a kind of motor process for me that has no beginning and no end, or at least doesn’t need to know one. Of course, I end it at some point. I also like to use outdated programs like MS Paint or freeware drawing programs from tablets to incorporate these individual elements back into photoshop. My analog practice currently consists mainly of pencil and ink drawing, but I’m also slowly approaching painting again.
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Tell us about a typical working day.
Actually, it doesn’t really exist yet. Fortunately! I decided to study art again after my design studies, a lot of things have opened up for me again. That’s why I appreciate being as free as possible in my work. That doesn’t mean that I don’t work much, on the contrary, but I don’t have fixed times. It always depends on the daily situation. I check my mails daily and every work day can be a mixture of organising, doing commissions and planning and executing free work. For commissions and collaborations you can write me anytime on Instagram or per mail.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a vinyl illustration project for French electronic music, as well as some smaller freelance projects.
What are some of the main subjects that inform your work?
Through a formal process, my work negotiates autobiographical positions through constant working and testing on the image. The imagery is oscillating between figuration and abstraction, both digital and analog, to explore simulated subcultural codes and scratches on reality itself. My artistic practice is a cycle of (self-)observation, processing and remix. With my immediate approach, I am very concerned with the present in the process and the meaning or quality of an image often only becomes clear in the movement of the process. Regarding illustration I try to include all the insights i get from my artistic practice and use them for a certain representation of something like a record.
Whose work do you admire and why?
Oh, that’s really hard. I’m a big fan of a lot of people, all of whom I could only name incompletely at this point. Therefore I recommend a group of artists from the 60s. “Neither a movement nor a style, Hairy Who was simply the name six Chicago artists chose when they decided to join forces and exhibit together in the mid-1960s” I admire the combination of high and low, underground comix, psychedelia and personal approaches. Especially the synergy of this group fascinates me. Also the conception of the exhibitions and the zines, they made, are outstanding.
Does music influence your work at all?
Absolutely. I think that every form of expression can also be translated into another, for example a certain atmosphere or way of repetition of a content in music can be translated into a visual phrase. At some points, methods from songwriting and music have certainly inspired me to do visual things as well. However, the whole thing happens rather unconsciously. Maybe it would be worthwhile to work consciously with such transfers, though.
Who is your current favourite band?
I listen to a lot of krautrock and early electronic music at the moment. A current favourite band would really be too hard to pinpoint, so I’d rather recommend a band. it’s called Nina Harker, from the label ‘Le Syndikat Des Scorpions’. They played in my old apartment in the attic, where very good concerts were held in a small setting one fall and winter before the pandemic. A really nice evening. my play tip is ‘Idaho Sief’ from the Nina Harker s/t album. You can check them out on bandcamp: https://lesyndicatdesscorpions.bandcamp.com/album/nina-harker-ep
What are your interests outside of illustration?
I am very interested in printmaking, drawing and painting. Through my studies my practice is shifting more and more into two different directions. The illustrative practice, often related to music, and a free artistic practice, which at the moment is slowly transferring from small format drawing and printmaking into other media. I also find everything that revolves around the graphics of subcultures very interesting. Besides a broad visual interest I also make music and write a little bit again, which however I would rather not show to anyone at the moment.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you in the near future?
I will do some exhibitions, an artist residency is planned, if everything works out. I’m also organizing a group exhibition with friends from my old hometown, hopefully with live music again in the spring. Furthermore, an artist book of mine will be published by the Spanish riso publishing house ultimo mono press from Sevilla. At the moment I am working with fictional exhibition views in the broadest sense, which I print. These have performative, installative, sometimes also a casual or architectural character. Overall, the work also has a certain tendency towards the metaphysically sinister. With this, I am planning installative, large-scale realizations of these spatial studies. In addition, I am working on a personal series of ink drawings to which I do not want to reveal too much at the moment. Furthermore, I am currently teaching the basics of illustration together with my professor at my university. If everything works out, I would like to continue this teaching activity. It is very enriching to work together with others and I hope that I will still be able and allowed to do this when I am a bit older. I also curated a set of artist postcards, which are risoprinted in Glasgow via RISOTTO studio – I am thrilled to see them! Feel free to check them out too. https://risottostudio.com It will be the Riso Club post card issue about Würzburg (Germany).
The new issue of So Young is out now! Issue Thirty-Six features interviews with Wet Leg (Print Cover), Jockstrap (Online Cover, below), Black Country, New Road, Metronomy, NewDad, Teeth Machine, ENUMCLAW, Been Stellar, Blue Bendy, BODEGA, Catcher and more. Order your copy here or read the digital edition below.