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Illustrator Sergio Saucedo: ‘don’t feel afraid to try every style out there at least once’

Inspired by surrealism, symbolism and the natural world, Sergio Saucedo creates bold, character illustrations that stand out from the crowd. He talks us through his process in Affinity Designer for iPad and shares some advice for would-be illustrators looking to develop their identity and style.
What made you want to become a graphic designer and illustrator? Were you creative growing up?

I have always liked logotypes and drawing since I was a kid. Luckily I kept on drawing as a hobby throughout my basic education, and when the time came to choose a career path, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. My local university had a graphic design degree onto which I was accepted, and in the final year, I decided to focus on illustration. I felt that graphic design had given me the tools I needed to develop my drawing skills. Also, I fell in love with vector illustration; that “clean style” is very appealing to me.

“I fell in love with vector illustration; that “clean style” is very appealing to me.”

How did you get to where you are now?

It has taken time and continuous work. My first works had some of my present accents; I just needed experience, techniques and inspirations that only time can give.

Also, being consistent in my work has brought about new opportunities for me to grow.

What inspires your work?

My work is inspired by surreal imagery, symbolism, and nature. I like to think my characters are brought to life by these topics.

Works that are very high in detail, not only in graphics but in music, movies and everything in general, also inspire me.

We love your use of colour. How do you approach colour palettes in your illustrations?

I have a huge photo library of pictures I take of the street, houses, plants, etc. I use those as references, but sometimes I create combinations as the work develops.

I analyze the vibe the illustration is giving me or the vibe I want to send out and work on combinations from there. I’m from Mexico, so everything here is very colourful: the food, people, places, etc.

Could you talk us through your creative process? How do you turn ideas into finished artworks?

I start by sketching some ideas on my iPad, then see which ones I can develop further in Affinity’s Pixel Persona with a basic brush. I rarely work on paper these days.

Once I have what I think is a solid idea, I begin tracing the whole composition with a clean line and include notes to the future me. While I do this process, some other ideas come into my mind. Some of those make it into the final drawing, and some get put aside for another illustration or design.

With a clean sketch, I work in the Designer Persona with the Pen Tool on a new layer, making small groups to keep control of proportions or rearrange elements at the end.

What are your thoughts about Affinity Designer?

Affinity Designer on the iPad has become my primary tool since I downloaded it. The portability aspect is essential to me. I have the liberty to work from every place in my house—while watching a movie on my couch or listening to music at my desk—I feel very comfortable developing all my work processes on a single app.

Also, the tools that I wanted from other software are in Affinity. It has sped up my process and has a very easy learning curve.

“…the tools that I wanted from other software are in Affinity. It has sped up my process and has a very easy learning curve.”

What tools do you find most useful?
  1. The Pen Tool—it’s fantastic!
  2. The ability to rotate the canvas in the Designer Persona.
  3. The stroke handles.
  4. The transform tools: dimensions flip and rotate.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an artist?

I think achieving exposure is very hard. Getting my work out there as a non-English speaking person gets complicated and time-consuming sometimes. Especially so in the very early years of my career, with only a few works and the need to support myself.

Do you have any advice for illustrators just starting out and looking to develop their style and identity?

Don’t feel afraid to try every single style out there at least once. You may like or dislike some, but every one of them has at least one feature to learn that is gonna stick with you and your work, and it’s gonna help you develop a personal identity.

Even if the commissioned work gets overwhelming sometimes, finding the time to work on personal projects brings a different kind of satisfaction and learning experience.

Are there any dream projects you would like to work on in the future?

Yes, many! I still feel like I have so much I want to achieve. I would like to design art for toys, create painted murals, do comic covers, etc.

I’m lucky to work in illustration and still feel really passionate about it.

You can see more of Sergio’s work on his Behance profile and Instagram @sergiosaucedo.