The scenes in Rodrigo Aviles’ paintings and illustrations are often unnerving. Ghostly swordswomen float over the sleeping world. Courtly figures are transformed into psychedelic mushrooms. Abstract animals and people with demonic faces stand their two-dimensional ground. Killer robots rampage through the streets. Even his most surreal pieces, however, carry a strong narrative quality, and all those visual stories carry a dark appeal.
In addition to handling art duties on Sebastian Castro’s Adventure Calling, Aviles has provided colors for Mark Andrew Smith and Armand Villavert’s Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, Smith and Matthew Weldon’s The New Brighton Archeological Society, and Smith and James Stokoe’s upcoming Sullivan Sluggers.
Aviles’ own work has a nightmarish quality to it, with dream logic scenes that are neither simple nor overstuffed. And while his fanart is largely straightforward, it comes with a few surprises. His super-cropped rendering of Gandalf, showing just the wizard’s staff, sword and the tip of his hat, is one of my favorite pieces of Tolkien fanart, relying on negative space to create a sense of drama.