Defining your style, not taking yourself too seriously & other Q&A’s with Illustrator Chris Fernandez.
Hey Chris, Thanks so much for doing this interview. We really love your work so this is so exciting! First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your past and how you got into design and illustration?
First thanks for reaching out! I’m humbled you’ve asked me to share my experiences here. As for the how — it may sound a bit cliche but I have always been inclined toward drawing, coloring and the like. One of my parents favorite stories — which I’ve heard a few dozen or thousand times — is how I loved to draw so much that, as a child, they had to force me to go outside and play. I’m not so sure I was forced outside enough as I’m pretty awful at sports… but still, it pretty accurately captures how taken I was with drawing and illustration from a young age. Without diminishing the twists and turns, successes and failures we all encounter; the path from there to here is about as clear as it could be. Combined with the fact that I get to draw for a living, I consider myself incredibly fortunate.
You have an awesome design style! What was the process for you coming up with your unique style and what advice can you share with designers struggling to find their own unique style?
That is a tough one. I think there was a certain amount of… inevitability to my style. By that I mean I’ve always been overly fussy during the sketch phase when we’re taught not to be. Without purpose I’ll clean up my lines and erase the loose bits to pull out the final lines as though the sketch is the final piece. This has always been the case despite the fact that the actual final lines come in the digital stage which isn’t made much easier by all the fuss I make in the sketch stage. So, in that way, I had always been closing in on this very clean, geometric style that is simple in spite of its detail.
Knowing that, my advice is to embrace whatever quirks define your process or persona. See where they lead you and how they may be the thing that drives your ‘creative voice’ while feeling more authentic to boot.
Are your illustrations mostly for work or for fun and if so which do you prefer, client projects or self-initiated projects and why?
I actually work for an ad agency full time as an Associate Creative Director — so the balance of my career has been as a designer. Consequently, all of my illustration was for fun. It served as a creative outlet which eventually turned commercial when I finally started sharing on Dribbble and Instagram. As for preference, I honestly don’t have one. I do my commercial illustration on the side, so I have the luxury of choosing projects that I am genuinely excited for.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty! What’s your design process? What goes through your mind when you think of an idea? How do you execute your ideas? Do you sketch with a pencil first, do you use a Wacom tablet or the likes, what programs do you use, etc?
Pencil and paper. Always. Every idea starts there. Despite my rather absurd sketching habits, it is still the fastest way to sort through an idea and expression. When I begin my sketch I try to use just a few lines to express the character(s) and their emotion. I’m talking about 2 or 3 lines for a single character… finding the expression in those few bends. It mostly falls into place from there.
Last question, can you share with us one thing you wish someone would have told you when you started out illustrating? Or if that’s not applicable to you then what’s one piece of advice you’ve learned over the years that you can share with us?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Illustration, and much of the creative industry, will be demanding, competitive, unforgiving, contradictory and exhausting BUT you are, ultimately, doodling in a sketchbook. I try to remember that anytime I’m working too hard or feeling too proud. It’s a good gut check.
That’s it Chris! Its been great hearing what you have to say. Thank you again for your time.
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