How did you discover your passion for illustration and art? I’d always been good at drawing from the time I was a child, but I never considered it as a profession. At the age of 22, I began my studies as a fashion designer, and I returned to drawing after almost eight years without it. At that moment, something awakened within me. I reconnected with a part of me that had been dormant and began to enjoy drawing again. This reawakening was largely possible thanks to Berto Martínez, a teacher and then mentor I met during my studies. He transferred his passion for drawing to me and opened the door to new artists unknown to me until then, which totally changed my artistic vision.
You’ve published several books on fashion illustration. What attracts you about working in that industry, and what are your favorite kinds of fashion illustrations to draw? That was at the beginning of my illustration career. I was studying fashion when my sketches began to attract attention. Someone at school put me in touch with a publishing house that was looking for illustrators, and without having any previous experience, I began to edit some educational books on fashion illustration. I have never considered myself a “fashion illustrator,” only that I started illustrating fashion. I learned a lot from that experience and from the great masters of fashion illustration, such as René Bouché, René Gruau, Tom Keogh, Antonio López and Tony Viramontes—highly undervalued artists in the world of generic art. The freshness and spontaneity in their strokes continue to be master lessons for me. My favorite fashion illustrations just use black ink strokes and sometimes incorporate other contrasting color elements.
How is it balancing your personal work with your commissioned work? Commissioned work came first before personal work in my career. From the beginning, I had the vision to use commissions as a playground in which I could explore different techniques, which I could then apply later to work with my personal artistic language. I like to feel versatile, and I enjoy doing projects that are different from my personal work—although the two worlds share more and more things in common.
Your style combines ancestral and cultural elements alongside those of contemporary, avant-garde and urban art. What elements of each of these do you admire most? From primitivism or ancestral art, I like the symbology. I like the idea of reducing great thoughts, rituals or traditions to very simple elements.
When the the avant-garde movement emerged, I admire the schism from traditional arts that occurred. That very different way of seeing the world made the 20th century such a unique one in the history of art. It reaches so far back now that I often think it is difficult for us to overcome what was done there. We haven’t been in the 21st century for long yet, but we still can’t say that we have surpassed the 20th century.
Tell us about your recent series, Ego and Pugna. Do you often explore symbolism in your personal work? Ego and Pugna are the series I’m currently working on. Ego reflects my thoughts on personal perception and universal questions we all ask, and Pugna represents the constant battle we fight against ourselves to achieve our goals. These ideas came to me when I understood that I didn’t have to look for the best answers but instead search for the greatest questions. I use symbolism in all my paintings: everything I do represents something bigger and deeper.
When you work with clients, how does your process change from when you’re working on personal projects? Working with clients requires a little less introspection as I have to think about how the client would think. I listen to the other party and search for common ground, since I wouldn’t do anything that wouldn’t connect with me in some way. Although commissioned work is for a client, I still put a lot of myself into it. I always want to create with honesty and respect for the work I have done over the years and the work I will do in the future.
What tools do you find indispensable for your practice? My mind is my main tool. I also consider the way I handle my crayon itself to be a tool. Subtly different ways of using media with my hands produces completely diverse results. On many occasions, I’ve used music as a tool to help me generate different moods. On a more material plane, I couldn’t work without my crayons, soft pencils, and, of course, my scanner that allows me to share with the world and my clients what I’m working on.
Do you have any other creative pursuits besides visual art? I love music production and have a studio inside my atelier with various synthesizers, drum machines, sequencers and other electronic production equipment. I often find analogies between music production and visual arts production.
What advice do you have for illustrators just entering the profession? Don’t be afraid to copy your idols. Learn by doing it. The moment you understand how your idols did it in the past, you’ll begin to build your own path. Also, consume as many different artistic references as you can. Study them carefully and the many ways they deviate from trends. ca