Illustrator Jhon Boy conveys the oddities of everyday life through “clean lines and sober environments”
Based in Tenerife, the illustrator tries to understand reality through his work, while creating a dialogue between image and viewer.
- Ruby Boddington
- 6 November 2020
Clean, simple and emotive, the work of Jorge Gallardo Febles AKA Jhon Boy is an exercise in storytelling through minimalism. Across the Tenerife born and based illustrator’s portfolio, characters – all comprised of circular heads with two dots for eyes and a simple line for a nose – partake in every day scenarios peppered with oddities and ambiguity.
Despite having such a distinctive style, illustration wasn’t the path Jorge initially followed but, in 2015, part-way through a degree in social anthropology, he decided to take the leap. “I have always been fascinated with images, the impact they make in our lives is absolutely punishing,” he explains of this sudden decision. “You can express a whole universe of concepts with just one image. When you draw, you are exposing your own reality and you are understanding it in a very personal way.”
This personal connection to the work he makes becomes clear when he explains how his own personality influences his visual language. “I like to play with clean lines and sober environments,” Jorge tells us. “This says a lot about me because I love when everything is in order, placed or composed with an aesthetic intention.” Through his intentional mark-making, however, Jorge is able to distill narrative and convey it with a sense of clarity.
A recent piece which perhaps best demonstrates this is titled To all of those who were in a moment of our lives, but now they're gone. A four-panel comic, it zooms out with every frame, starting with a nail being hammered into a wall and ending with a sad scene: an individual sitting on their own next to an empty chair, looking up at an image of what appears to be a lost loved one. There’s a distinct solemnity and sadness to the piece, conveyed through composition and implied loss. “I’m super proud of this comic strip because I could synthesise in a very minimalist and precise way the concept of loss,” Jorge says. “It’s a simple idea but it works pretty well – my goal was to bring some nostalgia in people’s hearts.”
With a nuanced understanding of the medium he now chooses to work in, Jorge’s drawings harbour a complexity, undeterred by their aesthetic directness. “I think that art in general makes you understand and feel reality in very different ways,” he continues, explaining why, often, his imagery is open to interpretation. “I don’t want to indoctrinate or influence people with ideas, I think we’re living in a world where everyone has something to say,” Jorge explains. “The message I try to share with my art is essentially linked with the human being, I don’t want to talk about politics, wars or conflicts. I prefer to create some kind scenes and exchange a dialogue between the image and the viewer, reducing everything to human values. On the other hand, my work can be understood in a lot of different ways, I prefer to let people think or see whatever they want to. I’m an artist, not an influencer.”
When it comes to his process, Jorge has developed a staunch love of collaboration and believes that creativity is not possible without it. “I think sharing is a must so I spend a lot of time working on ideas with my friends,” he says. “People make projects unique.” Often, this means turning to his friend María-Elba, a graphic designer from Barcelona who has become “an essential part” of Jorge’s practice, adding that “the projects I like to work on have a human component, I can’t create my work without other people’s influence.”
Another key facet for Jorge is routine, making sure he is habitually drawing. “I have to admit that my drawing skills are not the best, but I draw every single day. The key is to keep it constant,” he confesses. So this is what Jorge plans to continue doing, with a focus on moving into street art, having completed murals in the past which he really enjoyed. Having recently graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from the ULL in La Laguna and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, but back in Tenerife because of Covid-19, he also plans to return to Belgium to pursue a master’s in the visual arts as soon as he can.
Jhon Boy: The pickpocket mafia causing chaos in the subway 🚂 🥵 (Copyright © Jhon Boy, 2020)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.