Halloween is his favourite time of year. Freakish creatures are the main source of his inspiration, all mixed up with the saucy rock, tropical beaches and armed elephants. Enter the fantastic world of Don Ramos – we dared to explore his wicked mind. Are you ready?
Don Ramos, in all of their eerie beauty, there’s something uncannily French about your designs. And what’s with the elephant with the assault rifle carrying the emblem of Savoie (a region in France)?
Well, this design is part of a loose series playing on the “Sons of Anarchy” logo. I turned it into “Sons of Chambery”, the capital city of the area where I live. The elephant is the mascot of the city and refers to our ‘famous’ elephant fountains.
Blood and the theme of death seems to take centre stage in all of your designs. Zombies, vampires, monsters, rockabilly – how does all this add up?
There are local influences like the Opinel that’s produced in Chambéry. A bit of a private joke, if you like. The main themes of my T-shirts build on my fascination with B-movies, rock’n’roll and everything related to it. I have no affliction with “death,” but to the monsters and “freaks” just tickle my fantasy.
I don’t really know where the link between rock and cinema comes from. Maybe part of me wants the universe go back to the days of the 1950s when teens found an outlet for their reckless youth by watching horror films at drive-in cinema and listening to rock’n’roll on a night out. They used to say it’s the music of the devil, you know!
The first time I saw a horror movie was when I was just 10 years old when my cousins introduced me to ‘Pet Cemetery’, ‘Poltergeist’, ‘House’ etc. I was amazed by all this crop of great imagination that my cousin had recorded on venerable VHS tapes.
What is the best zombie movie you would recommend watching?
‘From Dusk till Dawn’ is very good, for sure, but even better is ‘The Return of the Living Dead’. It dates from 1985 and is the first zombie film to add a dose of humour to the genre, and that was well before ‘Shawn of the Dead’. The soundtrack is very rock’n’roll as well with bands like The Cramps, The Damned, 45 Graves ad the likes. On another note, I love the films of the 1950s and 60s such as ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ or Ed Wood movies like ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ in which zombies, vampires and aliens are depicted in cardboard.
Do you use any unusual tools? And how did you learn to draw?
I work in a conventional way. I first use a pencil, then ink, then I scan it and finally I use Photoshop for colouring and seeing what it looks like on a T-shirt.
And how did you learn to draw?
I actually acquired a BA in arts at an art school near Chambéry.
Do you dress up for Halloween?
I’m not sure yet! I usually go to a costume party with friends and then end up watching a good horror movie.
Do you know about any festive events to conjure up the undead?
I have never attended a ‘zombie walk’ or something similar, that’s still on the list!
Thank you, Don Ramos, we look forward to seeing more of your ghastly designs!