The green eyes of the manly rabbit on April’s cover twinkle mischievously, as if he’s about to boldly take a bite of a stolen carrot. His perfectly manicured curled hair complements his collared shirt and vest. Odd, considering he’s a rabbit.
The rabbit, in addition to tailored clothes, clutches his carrot with hands, not furry rabbit feet. This combination of human and animal characteristics is a technique Carol Rizzo uses in much of her work. “I’m drawn to the mixture of humans and animals, I love using character faces and concepts. I’m able to get across more stories that way, by mixing symbols and faces,” Rizzo explains.
As a child, Rizzo’s father introduced her to the world of film, some of whose characters are still noticeably influencing her work. “When I drew this I had Harvey
in mind,” says Rizzo, referencing the Jimmy Stewart comedy about a man whose best friend is an imaginary six-foot tall rabbit who wears a bow-tie and belt. Another big influence for Rizzo was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
. “I have two copies with the original artwork, and a lot of the work in the book deals with human faces paired with animal bodies,” she says.
Though much of her work is rooted in a playful, fantasy-like style, she also ventures into social and cultural commentary. Rizzo uses the same style of personifying animals and inanimate objects to illustrate issues like in-school condom distribution, foreclosure, and debt. In Foreclosure
, Rizzo creates what looks like a flyer that reads “Foreclose.” In the center, an incredibly detailed human face stares piercingly and sadly at the viewer as a tear drops from the corner of an eye. The piece is packed with telling details like keyhole shaped mouth to the home, a child peering out an upper window, and an adult standing in the doorway holding a paper, with the posture of defeat.
For as imaginative as her work can be, when it comes to execution, Rizzo gets serious. All of the lines and edges in Rizzo’s work have an exactness that come from working exclusively with colored pencils. “Over the years I’ve been able to get the pencil to do what I want. I love the preciseness of a sharp pencil,” she says. Portfolio: www.carolrizzo.com.