Plates brimming with rich tomato sauce, perilously teetering sandwiches and groceries in abundance, Rocío Egío’s illustrations are every foodie’s dream. Having grown up in a family of food lovers – who Rocío tells us can spend hours chatting over a delicious dessert – the illustrator sees the act of eating as a unifying act, believing that “food brings people together, and sharing the table is the most generous thing in the world”. With her charming and satisfying illustrations, it is this sense of togetherness and culinary joy that Rocí so successfully depicts.
Not only inspired by the food of her youth, Rocío also observes a lot of her style in her hometown surroundings. Growing up on the East Mediterranean coast in Alicante, the “scenes of summer colours and shadows” are emblazoned in her creative mind's eye and now significantly influence her warm, inviting palettes.
But while Rocío loved drawing from a young age, an aptitude for academia meant she was pushed towards studying architecture rather than solely illustration. Filled with travel and exploration – she completed an Erasmus year in Lausanne, and lived in Shanghai for six months – her time studying was certainly exhilarating and enriching. However, after finishing eight years studying, she decided it was time to commit to a more “artistic and visual” field. In 2016 she worked for a perfume brand in charge of the visual communication, before, in 2018, beginning work as a freelancer, first in graphic design until “an illustration style began to emerge, it had coherence, it represented me perfectly and I felt very comfortable with it”.
Far from neglecting her architectural roots, Rocío sees her education heavily informing her illustrative style: “The use of geometry and composition comes from my years as an architecture student. I always use flat designs, top views and profiles in my representations”, she explains. And, not only informing her style, her studies have also formed her approach: “I’m a very rational girl and I love to plan and to follow a methodology in my projects (I know this is something unusual in people who work as creatives).”
While discussing her approach to work, Rocío also mentions how, when she was 24, she discovered she had dyslexia. Explaining how “everything made sense” when she received the diagnosis, Rocío views her dyslexia as both a “super power” and an “advantage” to her work. “My head understands the world in visuals,” she adds, “for me, translating works or ideas into graphic language is necessary to process and understand the world”. Rocio also views her dyslexia as informing her trademark simplicity, with her focus on geometries, clean compositions and reduced colour palettes. Citing the musings of the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncusi – “simplicity is complexity resolved” – Rocío explains that she likes to “go to the essence of problems and clean up the noise around them.”
This simplistic yet effective approach is best demonstrated in Rocío’s commission for The Washington Post. Tasked with creating an illustration that represents “teamwork”, the piece was set to be published in the entire creative teams’ notebooks. With such a significant task, Rocío felt the pressure. But with a set of colourful designs focusing on various hands helping each other out and collaborating, the end product was so impressive and perfectly indicative of the brief.
Being a self-professed “workaholic” – “I can be working hours and hours, without thinking about my health, my private or social life” – Rocío hopes 2022 may be the year she achieves a more balanced life. Looking to create more personal work, be more selective with projects, work smarter and allow herself more time to play, it looks like the illustrator's trademark planning and methodology is set to serve her well.
Rocío Egío: Break the Fast for NYT Kids (Copyright © Rocío Egío, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.