Patricia Rodell, a Pilot Mountain transplant, has found a way to combine three of her passions which include illustration, photography, and writing, into one revolutionary art form.
Rodell is originally from Richmond, Virginia, but recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a double major in illustration and photography. While Rodell was in school in Georgia, her parents relocated to Pilot Mountain, which prompted her to follow after completing her degree.
“I decided to make the characters literally come to life,” Rodell said of her combination art form in which she morphs elements of illustration and photography to create a single image.
All of the images that Rodell makes are of characters that she created with inspiration from works of literature that have resonated with her. To accompany the images, Rodell creates lavish stories about the characters and their lives.
“Most of the time I’ll have an idea of what I want the characters to do,” Rodell said of her creative process going into the photography session.
All of the models that Rodell uses for her project are people that she’s either friends with or people that she’s come across that have expressed an interest in participating in her project.
“None of them are models, they’re real people that I’ve dressed up as these characters,” Rodell said.
During the shoots, Rodell explained that she rarely directs the models, rather allows them to find the character from within themselves. Rodell added that the idea is no longer hers once the model takes over the ownership of the character.
“Chemistry is a real important aspect with models, so that they’re always comfortable,” Rodell said.
In order to achieve a pleasing continuity with the character’s back story and her model’s appearances, Rodell enlisted the assistance of her friend Cory Reuter who serves as the make-up artist on all of the shoots. Rodell explained that by having Reuter around, she has an extra set of eyes to assess the visual presentation of the photos.
The project was originally started as one of her final projects while at the Savannah College of Art and Design and is the result of a two-hour conversation that Rodell had with one of her professors.
“This project is to keep me creative as possible,” Rodell said, explaining that her creativity levels waned after moving to Pilot Mountain from Savannah.
Rodell describes herself as a lifelong drawer, having started around the age of 5. It typically takes Rodell between one and two weeks to complete one of her images.
When first starting the project while in college, Rodell said that she was met with a degree of reservation by the illustration department at Savannah College of Art and Design, but added that the photography department found the concept to be bold and daring.
“The illustrations can’t be too cartoony, because then you could have just taken a photo instead, it needs to remain flat to an extent,” Rodell said of the fine line she walks when creating the images.
As for the characters and stories that accompany the images, Rodell explained that she would eventually like to reach the 50-character mark, with characters ranging from fantasy, future, and modern. Once she reaches that point, Rodell said that she plans to publish the stories in a literary journal.
“I’m constantly reading, so I’m constantly getting inspiration. I’m constantly in a weird fantasy gaze,” Rodell said.
Rodell cites “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” as being an early source of inspiration, having been given some of the stories by her grandmother when she was a child.
“My parents both weirdly allowed me to read fantasy, despite the fact that they’re both science based,” Rodell said.
Rodell is in the process of creating an illustration for the month of October which is part of the 1000 Words Project that she administers through her website ,which can be found at http://www.patriciarodell.com/.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.