Adrià Tormo: ‘stay true to your style, evolve, and don’t give up’

Spanish artist Adrià Tormo stands out from the crowd with his bold, geometric designs created in Affinity Designer. In this interview, he talks us through his journey so far, giving some sound advice along the way.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started as a visual artist.

My name is Adrià Tormo, I’m 24 years old, and I was born and raised in Xàtiva, a city near València, Spain. From an early age, I started to draw. I especially remember drawing my favourite Pokémon characters every day. I always had that restlessness for drawing, but I wasn’t very constant either. I left it for long periods, but it was always present in some way. Another that thing I remember was designing an album cover for a class subject. I had such a good time doing it, and that was the moment I knew I wanted to do something related to it, so I decided to study graphic design. At the start, I learned several areas of graphic design and began experimenting with all of them, but something inside me was pushing me towards illustration. After a while, without knowing where to go, I decided to bet on what I had inside me, and here I am today.

‘The fearful beginning’
What inspires your work?

During the time I was deciding what to do, I enriched myself by looking at the work of many great artists. I stored all this visual information in my mind, knowing that one day it would explode. The works of Wassily Kandinsky, M.C Escher, Moebius, Theo van Doesburg and Pietr Mondrian were among the first to reach me in a different way to how I saw art. Their work impacted me and left a deep mark on my visual perception. When I went deeper into finding illustrators to learn from, I fell in love with the work of others such as Pavlov Visuals, Yoaz27, Enisaurus, Marlon Mayugba or Ori Toor. Something crazy is that nowadays, I have contact with all of them to a greater or lesser extent. It’s incredible and something that my past self wouldn’t have believed. Apart from these visual references, I am very inspired by fantasy, technology and imaginary beings. I love sci-fi themes, mythology and architecture.

How did you develop your geometric style?

I guess it came naturally. Prior to that, as I said, I tried several things to see what I liked more. I tried to learn concept art and to draw and paint in a more “traditional” way, but then I discovered the pen in its entirety; and the capabilities that vector drawing had. I like to control what happens on my canvas in the best possible way, and I’m a bit obsessed with perfection. I’m talking about lines that fit with each other, exact measurements, proportions, symmetry etc., and it’s something that vector drawing and geometry gave me, so little by little, I developed it further. I like to do an ornate style with a lot of geometry and complexity, but I also like something more simple or minimalist. I try to satisfy those two parts in me with different works.

“I like to control what happens on my canvas in the best possible way, and I’m a bit obsessed with perfection. I’m talking about lines that fit with each other, exact measurements, proportions, symmetry etc., and it’s something that vector drawing and geometry gave me, so little by little, I developed it further. ”

‘Utopic places’
‘Coyote’
Talk us through your creative process; how do you turn your ideas into finished artworks?

Almost all my work starts from a sketch, either because I have an idea I want to do, or because I draw lines randomly until I find a sense, and then the idea starts to form in my mind. I try to make the vector work easier by creating a good sketch, but most of the time, the sketch is just a few lines to put the composition together because the rest I have in my mind, and I can only do it with the pen. In some works, when I transfer the whole idea I have in the sketch to vector, I see that it’s not enough for me, and I start working in vector without any guidelines, just letting myself go until a point comes when I have to tell myself enough is enough, because otherwise, I could continue creating new geometry! Haha.

How do you choose colour palettes for your illustrations?

I use the Coolors app on my iPad to create palettes. I usually put it in a floating window with the illustration in Affinity Designer in the background, and what I have previously vectorised in greyscale shapes indicates which colours will be lighter and which will be darker. Then I look at the illustration, and I put together a palette that fits me.

‘Gundam force’
You’ve been using Affinity Designer since the early days. What first impressed you about the app, and why do you continue to use it?

Honestly, I was tired of other vector applications. They often made things complicated with an overloaded or hard to understand UI, and I didn’t like the workflow. Affinity is much simpler as well as powerful, for example, on my iMac I can navigate through the document by zooming and panning with just the mouse. The final leap was when I bought an iPad Pro and got Affinity Designer for iPad—that’s when it all started for me. Apart from the price, I want my work tools to be legal and previously, as a student, there were certain apps I could not afford to pay a subscription for. I also see that there is a great team behind Affinity who cares about the community and its users, as well as continuing to improve, launching new applications and making them accessible on iPad. I think they will be my apps for illustrating and designing forever.

“…there is a great team behind Affinity who cares about the community and its users, as well as continuing to improve, launching new applications and making them accessible on iPad. I think they will be my apps for illustrating and designing forever.”

‘Stairs and Buildings - I’
Do you have any favourite features/tools?

Global colours! I like to play with colours, and even once I have decided which ones I want, I often like to try other options. Previously I had to do each one individually, but with global colours, I can change them all at once. I also get a lot of use out of the Assets tab. There I can access some of the ones I use frequently without having to leave the document. The Gradient Tool, Noise, and Symbols are pretty easy to use too, and I use them often, as well as the geometric shapes and the many options they give.

Is there a piece of artwork that you’ve created that you’re particularly proud of? Could you tell us about it?

Yes, I think my Spirit Guide piece. I was still trying to get to know myself stylistically, and that artwork marked a before and after. I’m proud of it because apart from being well received in general and being my first illustration to sell, it was the one you chose to post on your Instagram! For me, it has already become a special piece, and as its name suggests, it’s like my guiding spirit that will accompany me throughout this long road ahead.

‘Spirit guide’
We love the illustrations you did for 36 Days of Type. Can you tell us more about them and what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

I knew about this challenge last year. I actually participated, but I had a completely different style, and I decided to hide it from my Instagram and start from zero. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I did the 36 characters. Then, when I was consolidating my current style, I wanted to do it again. I used to take a while to complete an illustration, but with this challenge I self-imposed a rule upon myself to do an illustration a day with the aim of growing and getting faster with my illustrations. I really let myself go with this challenge to see what came out without thinking too much about a sketch, as I did them all directly in Affinity Designer.

36 days of type - G
36 days of type - L
36 days of type - P
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a digital artist?

I haven’t been exposed as an artist for very long. I consider my journey to be just beginning, so I’m sure there are some really challenging things to come. At the moment, I guess what made me get out of my comfort zone the most was the 36 Days of Type challenge. Creating an illustration for 36 days non-stop was exhausting but rewarding. Apart from the illustrative challenges, I suppose the act of showing myself to the world was a challenge in itself.

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

The advice I usually give myself is, stay true to your style to evolve it, don’t give up and fight for what you want. I believe that everything ends up arriving, you just have to be patient and work hard. Ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to send an email or a message through social networks. I did this with many artists I admire, and they all responded kindly, giving me some advice. Connections in this world are important, so try to be nice to everyone as you would like them to be nice to you and support other artists who have the same dream as you. Never stop learning and exploring new paths, and don’t accept criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from. If anyone is reading this and has any questions or needs any extra advice, I would be happy to help!

“Ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to send an email or a message through social networks. I did this with many artists I admire, and they all responded kindly, giving me some advice.”

‘Future order’
Lastly, where would you like to see yourself in five years time? What would you like to have achieved?

Five years is a long time. The possibilities are endless! I would really like to establish myself as an artist—being able to make a living from my illustrations is something I dream of, and I work every day to make it happen. Five years gives me time and hope to see that dream come true. In general, I hope to be a better person in all areas. I also expect to master the technique of making the perfect homemade pizza! Haha.


To view more of Adrià’s work, check out his website. You can also find him on Instagram, Twitter and Showtime.