Luis Royo was born in 1954 in Olalla, a small village in Teruel, Spain. As a child, he moved to Zaragoza where he studied technical design, painting, and interior design. By 1972 he began painting, exposing his art to new forum. In 1978 he became a comic artist and soon triumphed internationally. Samples of his work appeared in some of the most important magazines of the time and were later compiled into the following books: Luis Royo (Rambla, 1985) and Desfase (Ikusager, 1986). In 1983 he moved onto illustrations, were he produced his greatest achievements. He achieves this success with the help of Norma, his publisher and editor that distributes his work to the entire world. In 1992 his first book, Women, appears, followed by Malefic (1994), Secrets (1996), III Millennium (1998), Dreams (1999), Prohibited Book 1 (1999), Evolution (2001), Prohibited Book 2 (2001, Conceptions I (2002), Visions (2003), Prohibited Book 3 (2003) and Conceptions II (2003). Along with these titles, six collectors cards series were released, five collectors portfolios, posters, and a tarot card set called The Black Tarot. The increasing popularity of Royo´s images allowed for the publication of postcards, calendars, playing cards, t-shirts, album covers, video games, mouse pads, and even sculpture.
With such a wide range of products, Royo has become an authentic cultural phenomenon. His books have gone through numerous editions and have been translated into French, English, Italian, Russian, and Portuguese. Magazines like Stampa, Airbrush-Action, and Penthouse have dedicated entire articles to him. Festivals, art galleries, and specialty stores continuously organize expositions honoring his work. He has received the Spectrum Silver Award (United States), Cartoomics (Italy), and the Pilgrim Prize (Russia), amongst many others.
The success of Royo is due largely to the originality of his work, which has broken through traditional barriers and revolutionized the world of illustration. He has a keen interest in fantasy themes, though he experiments with other themes like the western, historic epics, and romance. Setting aside his themes, his innovative style breathes power while radiating a fragile, almost mystic transparency. Royo´s treatment of the human figure, especially his women, endows the body with a soulful brilliance. His use of color, from the most saturated gamma to the most despoiled gray is contrasted with an intense touch of chrome, creating an aura of fascination that invites us to enter his world.
Despite the consistent use of certain elements, Royo´s style reflects a clear evolution. When reviewing his work chronologically, one can see a refinement in his style and the reinforcement of his theme, as each composition becomes even more poetic and graceful. The apparent simplicity of his drawings is deceptive, allowing for a complex plot and a range of artistic options. His permanence on the front lines in the world of illustration and his increasing success is the result of his constant, subtle, and effective experimentation.
Royo has made the myth of “beauty and the beast” his principal theme, effortlessly moving from horror to the lyrical. Whatever the theme, his characters waltz effortlessly between epic and erotic. The subject´s flesh is overlaid with a defiant and threatening tone, marking them more exciting. As Royo knows all too well, when the dark ghost of death looms over the hero, the suggestion of sex becomes more intense.
When studying his characters, one notices that he places the subject on the border of tragedy, where they can shine more brilliantly. Their frozen position anticipates a destiny as attractive as it is cruel. Clutching their weapon, they await the next attack. Their intensity and the tautness of their muscles make them even more beautiful and dramatic. In the blink of an eye they can disappear, having been devoured by the danger that encircles them. But the immediate future doesn´t interest Royo. He portrays that penultimate moment, when the inner soul of the hero is revealed.
– Antonio Altarriba
A retrospective look at my work is a good place to try and explain the why and how behind my images. If someone has taken on the challenge of depicting dreams and fantasies, they should be able to shed some light on the subject. It´s difficult to distance oneself and like a pinned insect, observe ourselves objectively, but we can give it a shot. Perhaps a story is the best way to uncover key glimpses into the self and find the very source of one´s inspiration.
THE BOY IN THE WINDOW
Elt was a gray and gloomy country with long winters, sad faces, empty stomachs and weather-beaten coats, all the disheartening signs of a post war period. A small boy and his family were living on the ground floor of an old house in the heart of the city. It was hot and humid, with just one window that overlooked a small courtyard. A place which now, as an adult, he can barely recall a single image of. On his seventh birthday, his family moved to a new neighborhood. Their apartment was the custodian´s quarters on the eight floor of the building. It was a tiny place, barely more than 300 cubic feet, but there was one hidden gem, a window with a panoramic view of the entire city. At that moment, his eyes were lost in the horizon and he became conscious of his own existence.
It was a wonderful day, but the night punished him with memories that struck him like arrows, of the windows that overlooked the schoolyard he left behind. There was a teacher who didn´t like teaching the day´s lesson, and would give each student, a blank piece of paper and a drawing for them to trace. For the boy in the window she was a goddess. He spent hour after hour with his friends, their faces pressed against the glass tracing out images. Never had he felt so happy. Each time his fingers moved across the blank page, he watched his pencil give birth to figure after figure. He remembered that every morning before he went to school his mother would give him candy to stop him from crying, which he would then secretly give to his teacher. If he could, he would give the whole world to the goddess who could make him happy.
Years passed with his eyes transfixed on the urban horizon. His eyes fluttered over thousands of darkened city windows, inspiring him to create people and imaginary worlds for each point of darkness. Soon came adolescence when all the teenagers would get together on Saturday nights, listening to music until their heads exploded. On one of those nights, as the old nightclub began to empty, he sat in the corner, his eyes bloodshot from alcohol. The walls and multicolored lights of the dance floor framed a new window that awakened his dormant desires. In the center of that window was a girl, no more than sixteen, dancing to the rhythm of the music. With each movement her very short dress revealed a trace of her white panties. Once again, his world was crushed by the opening of a new window, framed by a dazzling array of psychedelic lights. After many months of persistence, there came the glorious day when he finally won over the girl with the white panties. Together they moved in and out of tiny windowless lofts, but through it all there remained the constant desire to fill blank paper and canvas with hundreds of drawings and paintings. In time a little baby came and they had to move into a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. The window in the new apartment brought back the gray, bleak world of his youth. The horizon was cluttered with the silhouettes of factories and plumes of smoke rising from chimneys. In his new home, he placed a large canvas and drew guidelines on the glass, just like when he was a child, tracing and painting the sad city in gray. The two of them spent many years in the room with three windows: that of the real which overlooked the smoke stacks and the factories, that of fantasy which he found on a blank page, and that which appeared on the dark surface of the chalkboard, where the powerful imagination of a young boy could emerge.
The drawings and paintings began to fill all the drawers and the piles of canvas grew so tall, there was less and less space left in that apartment. One day, those drawings and paintings began to bring money to the family and allowed them to move to a new place. It was close to the beach and allowed him to see the sky kiss the sea, but his eyes lost their ability to comprehend the vast distance. He had grown too accustomed to living trapped amidst blank canvas and paper, obsessed with turning the emptiness around him into thousands of images that were later published in different places. The window was the blank paper, the gateway that could transport him to imaginary universes and allowed him to live in one fantasy after another.
He suddenly felt suffocated, but didn´t know why. He returned to his city, with the ludicrous desire to find an apartment in a tall building where he could rediscover the horizon of his childhood and rekindle his eyes. That new window filled him with peace, if only for a moment. The years dragged at the foot of the new window, but it didn´t restore his childhood dreams, so he continued to turn blank paper into window. The paper dreams continued to succeed and he spent more time lost in those dreams than outside of them. The true horizon became more and more blurry.
One morning he peered into a window that had never told him anything special before, the bathroom mirror. There, he discovered an aging man with gray hair and dark circles under his eyes. He packed his bags and moved to a warm, quiet beach where a distant sea awaited him. While he sat there, sketching on paper, his inseparable companion, he perceived the immensity of the horizon. It was the same horizon he discovered on his seventh birthday, which he lost so many years ago. He suddenly realized he was standing in front of a massive window of light that was hidden in a remote corner. For the first time, he saw the sky and sea with eyes unclouded. Even though he had looked at it hundreds of time before and from many different angles, he had never truly seen it. He was overwhelmed by the immensity of that window and put away his small windows of paper, and for a few moments, lost himself in the intoxicating horizon. He knew that from that moment on, he would always have doubts as to which window to look out of.
After this short story, which deals with the intimate life of an illustrator, we are left to confront the more difficult problem of explaining the use fullness, the intention, the evaluation, and the sentiment behind what we call illustration. In previous books l´ve mentioned my preference for calling it by its old name, “illumination” as opposed to “illustration”. For this reason I used windows as metaphors to help you better understand the distinction. I´ve read hundreds of opinions about the meaning of art, I´ve listened to hundreds of artists discuss it, I´ve seen hundreds and hundreds of words describing the topic, from the coldest and most calculating to the most passionate. It´s truly an overwhelming subject.
What could one say regarding this topic that would make sense? I can only speak about a small paper window that calls out to me and says, “What would you like me to show you? Open me up with your pencils and paints and tell me what you see”. The truth is, it never shows me what I really want to see, or perhaps its does in a mischievous way, enticing me to open yet another window. What do theories matter or what they call art? All I know is that a blank window awaits me every morning on my drawing desk. If the boy in the window didn´t find it there every day, his tears would blind him. I also wanted to mention that it´s gratifying to see thousands of men and women that have also dedicated their time to converting a blank page into something more. What a passionate quest! The possibilities are infinite from the dispassionate “Painting 135”, to the emotional “Child Eating Watermelon”, or the most provocative “Electric Chair”. Art is not the type of subject where you can edit someone´s work by adding commas and periods, nor impartially discuss contrasts or similarities. There are only thousands of windows, and some which are quite magnificent.
– Luis Royo
Luis Royo is a Spanish artist, born in Olalla (Teruel) in 1954. He has produced paintings for his own books and exhibitions, and his work is found in many different media: Videogames, Role Playing Games, CD covers for music, covers of novels, sculptures, Tarot cards, etc. He is best known for his sensual and dark images, almost apocalyptic, in worlds of fantasy with mechanical life forms.
From 1972 he began painting pictures and expose them in various forums. In 1978 he began his career as a comic painter. A sample of these works are published in leading journals of the time Albums that compile this work are edited: Luis Royo (Rambla, 1985) Offset (Ikusager, 1986) Luis Royo Comics Anthology Volume 1 1979-1982 (Norma Editorial) and Luis Royo Comic Anthology Volume 2 1981-1983 (Norma Editorial).
In 1983 he goes to illustration, where he will harvest his greatest successes. Hand by hand with the agency and publishing house Norma Editorial, his works are published in the international market. Among other countries he performed work for the U.S., UK, Sweden and book covers of the most prestigious publishers as Tor Books, Berkley Books, Avon, Warner Books, Batman Books and others.
U.S. magazines often resort to Luis Royo art to illustrate their covers, Heavy Metal or National Lampoon, which are joined by other European magazines as Cimoc, Comic Art, Ere Compress, Total Metal and others. These will not be the only works done, he also performed covers of videos and video games.
Since 1990 and once established in a strong position in the market of international illustration, the amount of own works extends to the detriment of the requests. Most of his free time work will be acquired by different media and published in their recopilations.
In 1992 appears his first book, Women, this is a journey through different genres. In Spain it is edited by Norma Editorial, Editorial Soleil is in charge of publishing it in France and Editions Forum in Germany. Following this compilation, he held his first exhibition of originals.
In 1993 Comic Images, launches a collection of Trading Cards with his artwork, entitled From Fantasy To Reality.
In 1994 Malefic is published, with this book we discover an author, able not only to illustrate a world full of fantasy, but also to create a story, writing about the character who gives the book its title. Women reissued same year, in the U.S. Penthouse magazine makes an article about his illustrations.
In 1995, new publishers are interested in the work of Luis Royo: Ballantine, Nal, Daw, Doubleday, Harper Paperbucks, Zebra, Hasa Corporation, Pocket Books for Star Trek series, Penthouse Comic or Fleer Ultra X-Men by Marvel. There are many new formats that appear this year, we can find the work of Luis Royo in different countries including Eastern Europe: calendars, posters, t-shirts, CD covers, mouse pads for computers, collections of Trading Cards with other authors, such as the Art of Heavy Metal, or single, his third collection of Trading Cards, The Best of Royo.
In 1996, the work of Luis is the cover of American and German Penthouse, both devote a report inside. At the same time you can see various reports about his work in prestigious publications, among others, La Stampa in Italy, Airbrush Action in USA and Germany Penthouse Comix. In the same year he receives the Silver Award in the United States, Spectrum III, the best in contemporary, Fantastic Art Award.
In 1996 sees the light the third album Secrets, in which the female figure and the magic is the protagonist in the mude of “Beauty and the Beast.” A work that was published by NBM for English-speaking countries. This year, they release the Warm Winds portfolio, published by Norma Editorial, in collaboration with Heavy Metal. And an exhibition of his work in the show Phantasie Airbrush takes place. Frankfurt (Germany)
In 1997, the interest of Heavy Metal by Luis Royo is reflected in multiple covers and calendars, as well as in their gallery, entirely dedicated to the Spanish author. This interest culminates with the order of the cover of the twentieth issue of the magazine and the series of illustrations about character F.A.A.K. (Julie Strain) by Kevin Eastman. The second portfolio III Millennium Memory is published. This year, Comic Images will release two new collections of Trading Cards, Royo Secrets Desires (fourth collection of the author) and Artistic Choices (together with other authors). To finish off the year Women and Malefic are edited in the U.S. and this last one is reprinted in Spain.
The next book, Millennium III appears in 1998. In this book, Royo renews the colors palette and gives us his particular vision of the end of the century. It is published in the U.S. and various countries. Also it is exposed in Norma Gallery. In Barcelona this year, collection of tarot cards, The Black Tarot (in which the author develops new images and a personal version of the symbolism of the cards) is presented. A calendar for Heavy Metal is made and the fifth collection of Trading Cards, under title III Millennium. A year in which the author reflects a clear evolution towards a bolder and more intimate illustration.
In 1999 and coinciding with Barcelona’s Comic Fair, a new album, Dreams, is presented. A recopilation of all ilustrations made by charge from the last ten years and published in different languages. This album highlights the versatility of the author to adapt to different styles and themes. Exposes in comic fair Viñetas desde o Atralntico. At the end of this year the author shows us another twist, more daring and honest than ever with the publication of the first volume of Prohibited Books, which surprises with an erotic theme that the myth of Beauty and the beast becomes genuine protagonist. A book published in luxury format (comic book size). In 2000 the third portfolio Tattoos is edited, along with other publications, posters, calendars and more. In this year, receives the Millennium Award at the Salone del Fumetto 7th Cartoo Mics. Milano (Italy). While making an exhibition of his work.
In 2001 Evolution is published, on this album more personal works are combined with other custom made. In the album appears the study of character Malefic. Prohibited II hits the market, continuing the subject of the first volume. Heraclius Fournier edit poker cards with his artwork. And an exhibition of his work takes place in La Massana Comic, Andorra.
Published in 2002, Conceptions I, a book that compiles the process and study of the drawings, it contains analyzes of alternatives before the final work. A collection of sketches and pencil drawings. Publication of the fourth portfolio Chains. This year, Luis Royo exhibits his work and recieves Fantasy Award “CTPAHHNK” Pilgrim in St. Petersburg (Russia).
2003 publication of Visions an album that combines custom with personal work, as in previous ocasions it is edited in several languages. Publication of the fifth portfolio Prohibited Sex. Second edition with new format of III Millennium Memory Portfolio. Publication Prohibited 3 closes this album cycle of Prohibited Book. At the end of this year the second album Conceptions II is published, featuring sketches and preliminary drawings accompanied by texts.
In 2004 publication of Fantastic Art, will be the most important recopilation. Collects the most compleate collection of illustrations by the author. Published in two formats, the limited deluxe edition is a good example of the importance of this collection. The album hits the stores including a chest in this volume of Prohibited Sketchbook, sensuality and desire, free of color Prohibited Book in their initial states is shown. DarkHorse launches the first figure. Luis Royo comic Anthologie is published, in this volume are collected the stories created by the author from 1979-1982. Combining it with other work, dedicates four years to The Labyrinth Tarot, one of his most personal works. A tarot deck in which all pictures scrupulously maintain their hermetic symbols. Appears in two forms, an exclusive deck and a book with the same title, which includes all the illustrations with explanatory texts written by the author about the hidden meaning of each card and its power of interpretation.
Conceptions III arrives in 2005, the third of his collection of sketches with case included. A new edition of Millennium III, and Japanese edition. Publication of the sixth portfolio Tattoo Piercing. Subversive Beauty album, full of images of sensuality and impregnated with provocation, walking towards the pursuit of personal and individualistic beauty in defiance of the established, and that helps in body piercing and tattoos ornament. With the luxury edition comes for the first time an ilustration sheet, a signed original.
In 2006, coinciding with the 24th Comic de Barcelona, Luis Royo is honored with an exhibition. At the same time two books are presented, Dark Labyrinth and other novelty, the start of a trilogy Wild Sketches 1, a collection of sketches in small format, common in the edition of the mangas. The second volume Wild Sketches 2 is published. The same year the second album Anthologie Luis Royo Comic appears. Same year he receives the award Unicorn Fantasy, VII International Week of Fantasy and Horror (Málaga). Marto company from Toledo launches a sword “The Black Elf” based on the book cover Fantastic Art.
In 2007 an ambitious work performed in Moscow with Romulo Royo. The job of ceiling painting, a dome 24 meters in diameter, where more than 40 life-size female figures play with architecture and impossible to collect the leaks for classic themes of eroticism. This will result in a new publication, Dome. This year he exhibited in Fantastic Art, Seattle (USA) and Strychnin Gallery. N.Y. (USA)
In 2008 Luis Royo ends the trilogy collection of wild sketches with Wild Sketches 3.
In 2009 the album Dead Moon is published, a violent and romantic story that leads to the Apocalypse, a story with oriental flavor in a gothic and tragic world. Publication of the seventh portfolio Dead Moon. And an exhibition of originals from Dead Moon book takes place in the Manga Fair in Barcelona. Later this year Malefic New Remastered is published, this is one of the most charismatic books by Luis Royo, a new revised and enlarged version by the author with new images and sketches.
In 2010 Dead Moon Epilogue goes out, an addition to the first book, which elaborates on the past of Luna, Marte and their families. The legend of how Louyang was formed, and how You and Chang families settled there. This book includes a CD with the process of making of the two books and a poster with The Game of Destiny. Publication of the eighth portfolio Dead Moon Epilogue. And editing of I Ching deck illustrated with images of Dead Moon. And exposition at Manga Fair of Madrid, with originals of Dead Moon and Dead Moon Epilogue. Also another traveling in Fnac. Yamato launches a collection of figures based on illustrations by Luis Royo. Publication of portfolio art Demons, Luis Royo & Romulo Royo. Deluxe edition with limited print number. Later this year Prohibited Book New Remastered is published, new edition collects all three volumes of the Prohibited Book series and Prohibited Sketchbook. Edition revised by the author and expanded with new images and sketches.
In 2011, El Paso del Tiempo is published, a volume collecting comic stories made by Luis Royo in 1982-1983 scripted by Antonio Altarriba. In 2011, begins the international multimedia project Malefic Time with Romulo Royo. Joined by different creatives.
OTHER WORKS PUBLISHED
MALEFIC TIME: 110 KATANAS Hardback Edition
MALEFIC TIME: APOCALYPSE Hardback Edition
PROHIBITED New Remastered Edition
DEAD MOON EPILOGUE Hardback Edition
DEAD MOON Luis Royo with the colaboration of Romulo Royo
MALEFIC New Remastered Edition
DOME Luis Royo & Romulo Royo
DARK LABYRINTH Hardback Edition
SUBVERSIVE BEAUTY Paperback and hardback / deluxe limited edition
THE LABYRINTH TAROT Hardback Edition / Limited Luxury Edition
FANTASTIC ART Hardback Edition / Limited Luxury Edition
WILD SKETCHES Volumen 1 / Volumen 2 / Volumen 3
CONCEPTIONS Volume 1 / Volume 2 / Volume 3
PROHIBITED BOOKS Volume 1 / Volume 2 / Volume 3/ Sketchbook
VISIONS Paperback and hardback
EVOLUTION Paperback and hardback
DREAMS Paperback and hardback
III MILLENIUM Paperback and hardback
SECRETS Paperback and hardback
WOMEN Paperback and hardback
Biographies of Luis Royo (text only) by www.luisroyo.com are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internacional License.