Leo Rydell Jost is the multi-talented, creative artist who knows the magic recipe of combining art and youth with sexy and joyful fun. Leo is mostly known for his “Colored Dudes” illustration book that was compiled in 2014 and sold out in 100 limited edition copies. Leo has been awarded by the Tom of Finland Foundation for his contribution, and his sensually provocative hand-made rugs have been featured in several magazine and blogs worldwide.
Leo is based in Spain where he shares his life with the legend Luis Venegas, the most successful independent Spanish publisher, and their already-famous dog Perri. I knew that Leo was cool and laid-back before that interview. After the interview, I realised that he is probably one of the coolest kids on the block!
Illustrator, designer, artist, creative director, influencer… How would you introduce yourself?
As a human being who does creative stuff… And, possibly, an artist/designer. Working with freedom is crucial for me, so I don’t like to categorize what I do.
How would you describe your work?
Sexy, joyful, qualitative fun.
What is your creative process?
I normally strategize with myself what’s gonna be the next series of artworks: the aesthetics, the platform and technique… I consider that I have an evolving style, so I’m very flexible when I play with these elements.
How does your immersion in the creative world begin?
My inclinations towards fashion started at my teenage years. And, as a child of my time, these interests came through reality TV: Paris Hilton, Project Runway and other tacky MTV shows. After that, I did acquire some proper knowledge and refined my taste…
Where does your inspiration come from?
At first, visuals from Tumblr, it was great to study male physics while watching porn all day. But, lately, I’m hooked to Oprah’s Instagram pictures of her harvests.
What are the artists you admire?
Don Bachardy, Matisse and Cocteau were a big reference at the beginning of my career. I also love Martin Kippenberger, Thomas Ruff and Nan Goldin.
How did the “Colored Dudes” come to life? Did you expect the huge success of the book?
They were my first ever “proper” drawings and I wanted to turn them into something serious and not just an anecdote. The book came in a very naive way. I thought I was gonna be ruined for life, but it turned out great!
What makes you get carried away?
Everything, I’m like a baby child. Each time I start something I get distracted by Warcraft games, makeup tutorials and eventually I find the right path in order to work… ish
What is your favourite addiction?
How is an ordinary day of Leo?
I put a bunch of products in my face in order to maintain the baby face that I was blessed with. The rest is not that exciting, regardless of the pizza.
What does it feel to be the boyfriend of the most successful Spanish publisher?
Very proud of everything that he has achieved, and I’m happy and lucky to be able to help him whenever he needs a hand. It’s good to have close a person with such original ideas, everything is a little more interesting that way.
Being in a relation with someone who is also a creative, the publisher Luis Venegas, makes things more intense or you leave the job outside the door?
Work is normally the first thing on both our minds, there is no separation between our personal life and work… But, it works quite well and we are constantly laughing, so I guess it can’t be bad at all.
How did you too meet?
We meet thought a classmate of mine who was a friend of Luis, nothing too movie-like.
Are you scared of Perri becoming more famous than you?
I bet he probably is. I was tempted to create an Instagram account for him, but then I knew he was going to be stealing followers from me, so I stopped that idea immediately.
Do you feel that you are the muse of Luis?
That would be Perrillo, but I guess I do come handy in some creative situations.
Do you like to provoke through your work?
That was never my intention in reality. The sexual scenarios that I illustrate are for me “regular” scenarios. I am surprised when foot, smell, piss fetishes and other kinks become like something freaky or weird… We all have certain preferences and they should just be viewed as that.
What are you currently working on?
I just came back from Nepal, where I’m manufacturing a new series of large scale rugs with “abstract” looking scenarios and possibly some of them sexual… Maybe some are more obvious that others though. Also, in other artsy home wear that I’m experimenting with, it’s like playing Sims in real life.
How did you decide to use rugs as your art canvas?
At the time I was moving from houses each month and I felt I needed homie beautiful things around me like rugs, cushions and blankets to give me some stability and warmth.
Tell us one of the happiest moments of your life.
On my last birthday we spent three days naked in the beach in Formentera. The feeling of the sand, the water and the sunlight combined is so rewarding and peaceful. That island is truly heaven for me, I spent so many good times there.
Leo vs social media. Who wins?
Social media hates me, and wins. I am shocked that whenever I upload nude pics on Insta I lose followers, shouldn’t it be the other way around?
What advice would you give to the new generation of millennials/influencers?
I’m the one who needs advice! But probably it would be not to take life so seriously. Also, money comes and goes, so don’t get attached to it.
What else do you hate apart from being given labels?
Boring underwear, brown clothing.
A guilty pleasure?
Pizza from Domino’s or some other nasty delicious American pizza.
How do you imagine yourself in 15 years?
Younger, with a nice house at the seaside and possibly better looking. Also, successful, as in – bank account full of gold.
Can’t get enough of Leo? More of him here:
*All images are courtesy of Leo Rydell Jost. Portrait images taken by Luis Venegas.