In May 1999, vegan artist Roland Straller became a vegetarian overnight after a conversation with his dear friend Tobias Graf, who was already a vegan, “I was exposed to arguments that led me to question my eating habits for a long time to come, said Straller. “Becoming vegan was a process that I and my wife Yvonne went through together.”
Today Straller’s passion for veganism has lead him to create works of art that depict the reality and horrors of meat consumption and animal experimentation.
Roland Staller was kind enough to answer a few questions for Global Looking Glass.
How would you describe your art?
Art that is committed to animal rights and veganism. Art that takes up the fight against speciesism.
My main series, HUMAN ANIMALS, is “inspired” by the stories and facts of our human arrogance and ignorance with regard to non-human animals. For example: Paula, age 5, is asked what her favorite animals are. She answers: “Pigs, they taste so good!” I found this statement in ELTERN (parents) magazine under the rubric “things kids say”. This is a place where parents can submit their children’s “funny” remarks. – Such statements overwhelm me and I ask with my graphic “Paula, 5“: WHEN DO CHILDREN LOSE THEIR COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS THAT WERE KILLED FOR THE PURPOSE OF FOOD?
I draw digitally with a graphic tablet in Photoshop.
What is the typical reaction that you receive when someone sees your paintings for the first time?
In my exhibition at the Veggie Expo in Munich a short while ago, regarding images like TASTY CHICK, CARNISM or BLOODY HELL!, I frequently only heard a reverent “gross” and the question: “How long do you need to make this type of picture.”
Do you have a favorite painting that you have created?
The graphic BLOODY HELL! is especially important for me. I scrawled for over 150 hours on it, and it poses the most important and first question of my continual series Human Animals: DO WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KILL IN ORDER TO EAT?
What inspired you to create a t-shirt line?
I need like-minded vegans and animal rights activists for my work. They are the bearers of my artistic message for animal rights. I want to “equip” them with one of a kind “weapons and ammunition” for the VEGAN REVOLUTION, the FIGHT AGAINST SPECIESISM and the LIBERATION OF ANIMALS AND THE EARTH. My work should be used to enlighten. T-Shirts are an ideal medium for this.
What made you become vegan?
Over the last ten years I’ve assisted as a graphic designer in building Germany’s first vegan food wholesaler AVE, with my friend Tobias Graf. In addition to the brands VANTASTIC FOODS, VEGAN BAKERY, AVENGING ANIMALS or the VEGGIE SNACK BAR, Germany’s largest online veggies shop ALLES-ALLES-VEGETARISCH.DE followed in 2008. Tobi was a vegan pioneer. Unfortunately he died in 2014 of serious illness. I was able to closely witness at his side how the concept VEGAN transformed from a synonym for “militant animal rights freaks” to what it is today: HEALTHY & HIP. Being vegan is currently very popular in Germany and holds a positive connotation. With the positive side effects that every discount supermarket offers purely plant based alternatives. We created our own vegan paradise in the province of Bavarian.
What is your favorite vegan food?
Breaded soy cutlet with fries and salad.
What is your favorite vegan restaurant?
At the end of 2013, friends opened the vegan restaurant TASTY LEAF in Nuremberg. I developed my custom portrait series HERBIVORES for it: pleasant plant eating role models from the non-human animal world. In addition to my permanent exhibition, I can of course also warmly recommend Angie and Mike’s gourmet dishes.
Until 2003 I studied communication design with a focus on graphics and illustration. During this period I tried to place “my issue” in diverse book projects with the dream of finding a publisher, however with little success. Eventually, with my friend Tobias Graf, I founded the vegan lifestyle label AVENGING ANIMALS in 2006. And immediately, the first collection A LESSON IN COMPASSION, did great. After Tobi’s death in 2014 I decided to let AVENGING ANIMALS end, and from that point on to continue under my own name.
Do you have an artist that you admire?
H.R. Giger, Derek Hess, Michael-Mathias Prechtl, Mark Ryden, Michelangelo, Hieronymus Bosch… to only name a few.
Since the end of April 2015, I have a newly launched online gallery with a shop at VEGAN-ART.COM. An English version is planned for the end of 2015. Now I primarily want to continue my critical HUMAN ANIMALS series and to expand my much sought after positive GO VEGAN GO collection.
Courtesy Image: Roland Straller