Illustrator Antonio Uve radiates positivity through his work and artistic process
We talk with the illustrator about his latest venture into gifs, and how he’s managed to turn bad situations into fuel for his career.
- Joey Levenson
- 29 July 2021
Granada-based Spanish illustrator Antonio Uve first caught our eye with his wonderfully silly portfolio of gifs – most of which are animated versions of his whimsical illustrations. These colourful and happy characters, however, are a far cry from where Antonio first started, when he was drawn to “scary stuff, like skulls or phantoms,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I never thought that someone could make a living from drawing, so I abandoned the idea and started working as an art director in advertising agencies in Madrid.” It’s a story we often hear from budding creatives who don’t realise the plethora of opportunities that await them, often stifled by the stigma against creative careers. “At one point I realised that there were just illustrations in my advertising portfolio and it made me start considering the path of illustration,” Antonio says. It wasn’t until Antonio left the advertising agency that he was pushed into freelancing, and found himself working full-time as an illustrator – a medium which he’s now mastered. “It’s funny how bad things can turn into something really positive,” he adds.
What drew Antonio so compulsively to illustration was the idea of “no limits” and endless possibility. “And of course, every day is different, one day you are working on an editorial illustration about a serious issue and the next one you are drawing funny characters dancing and farting,” he adds. It’s a fine balance between illustrating for his own personal projects, and also being a highly commissionable artist who is ready and able to bring a brand or identity to life with his trademark cartoon-inspired approach. It was only during the pandemic that Antonio realised he could stretch and challenge his creativity by making gifs. “To have plenty of time was perfect to start doing little gifs and experimenting with it,” he recalls fondly. “The lockdown turned into something really positive viewing it now with some perspective.” Antonio’s relentless positivity is infectious, and it’s an attribute of his that shines through diligently in his many illustrations and animations.
“I would say my visual style is based on a colourful palette applied to simple shapes to depict weird and funny characters, mixed with some textures and a touch of humour, when possible,” he says on how he crafted a signature style of his own. Everything appears cohesive in Antonio’s body of work, and it’s understandable as to why editorial commissions, in particular, are suited to his visual language. “Colour is definitely very important in my work, I can spend hours until I find the right palette.” These hours are often spent in conjunction with dedicated time away from the computer to draw “just for fun at least one day per week.” It’s a practice that every illustrator should effectively take note of, as keeping the source of joy and passion alive in one’s art will only inevitably inspire the paid opportunities. “I just need my sketchbook and a pencil, and in there I don't care about drawing nice things,” he says. “Most of the time it is just nonsense doodles, but sometimes a doodle that I didn’t like will come back two months later when I think ‘this could be cool!’ and then I move forward digitally with that doodle.” Antonio is dedicated to the process of returning to his sketchbook time and time again, and this is often the starting point for a new commission.
For a recent example of finding joy in his work, Antonio points to a poster he made for an English academy in Spain. “I was commissioned by the school to illustrate the ‘parts of the house’ in English, and I enjoyed it so much,” he tells us. “In some ways, I tried to illustrate the house where I would like to live so I did a lot of research about interior design, patterns, and furniture.” It was a rewarding process for Antonio, who got to tap into his inner child and think dynamically about how his illustrations could be as informative as they were dazzling. “And in general, any project where the client is open to hear your ideas, collaborate and let you create is my favourite,” he says.
It’s this attitude that keeps Antonio optimistic about working on mural illustrations next, something that’s been on his bucket list for years. “I also want to keep working on animation, and testing new ideas to produce short animations,” he adds. As Antonio’s gifs work so perfectly in their Pixar-like details, we can’t wait to see what the illustrator is capable of in a fully animated world.
Antonio Uve: Queueing (Copyright © Antonio Uve, 2020)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. He was part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.