Work / Illustration

Jesús Sotés folkish work draws darker themes into his commercial illustration

Jesús Sotés’ dark, folk-like images can be eerie and unsettling. He is adept at finding ways to create uncomfortable forms and characters and over the past 15 years has been successful in finding commissions for his unconventional style across editorial and commercial projects. “I really think that it is my darker side that captures the potential client’s attention. But for different reasons I often end up with a kind of work that, sometimes, is far from the work that I really would like to do,” says self-taught Jesús. “Frequently, commissions are very defined and limited by commercial aspects and art directors. These parameters sometimes act as a brake to my creativity but I’m going to reconcile these two sides. I go looking for bold work with commissions, without detracting from requirements of clients. I think the best illustrators are those who are able to transfer the most authentic parts of themselves to commercial commissions. That is where I want to go.”

The Pamplona-based artist works through his ideas as quickly as possible from the outset. “I have no favourite methods. If I’m working on a commission, I think there is only one method to arrive in a good place: start to work as soon as be possible. Doing things wrong at first to discover what will be fine at the end. This is the best method for me,” he explains. “I usually tend to get very nervous when I start a new commission so, as actors do, the best way for me is go out to scene as soon as I can.”

For Jesús, it is important to avoid cliches where possible, but he concedes that he finds inspiration in “the underground culture of the 70s, ancient sci-fi comics, books and movies, rock n roll and punk subculture. We are living in a very global world and there are many of big influences. I usually try to stay away from the most of them, looking for, ever more, original sources,” he says. “If I’m working in my daily sketchbooks, I leave my mind working as free as possible, without cliches, methods or prejudged thinkings.”

The tangential connections between the imagery in Jesús’ work conjure worlds where the old and new meet. The lack of perspective and visible brush strokes and textures in his work combine for sometimes awkward viewing that draw you into a story. Be it an image of Pinocchio or commission for British Airways, he is carving a path that rejects more readily apparent stylistic trends in commercial illustration.


Jesús Sotés: Pinnochio book cover


Jesús Sotés: Book of the year for the Observer, 2016


Jesús Sotés: Under the Almond Tree, book cover


Jesús Sotés: Poster


Jesús Sotés: BA


Jesus Sotés: Watching my Father for Radio Times


Jesús Sotés: Poster for Man of La Mancha, Arizona Theatre Company


Jesús Sotés


Jesús Sotés: Suderlandsbraut


Jesús Sotés: Rainbow and Raingirl


Jesús Sotés: Dibujos por Sonrisas


Jesús Sotés: West Country Girl


Jesús Sotés: Ockywhee


Jesús Sotés: Ockywhee