Although he might have left the pleasant temperatures of Spain and his native Columbia behind, Russia-based illustrator Jhonny Núñez still fills his artwork with warmth and life. With strong contrasts and colours, his works rest in a comfortable spot between collage and vector graphics and between Disney and Jamie Hewlett. He himself says, “99.9% of illustrators on the planet have no idea what their work should be called. That is exactly why I classify my style as ‘illustration cartoon-naïf-retro-geometric.’” A fitting description!
Jhonny developed his style by observing artists he admired, investigating, testing his comfort zone, and last but not least, spending a great number of hours practicing intensively. Illustration gripped Jhonny early.
“I remember my childhood, spending hours sitting on the floor of my room looking at the images of magazines, advertisements, front pages and comics. When I saw the genius of these images, my head became filled with questions, my eyes widened as I saw the attractiveness of the colours, and my heart felt the seduction calling me to sink into this world of colours, forms and images. I think that was the time I discovered I liked graphic design,” he said.
“What pushed me to study illustration was also history; usually people do not really realise, but illustration is an extremely important discipline for humanity,” he added. “The history of humanity was told through illustration, using it as a codified system of language. We can find proof in the cave drawings of Lascaux, in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, in the Mayan ideograms, in the Turkish nautical maps and in the great number of ancient alphabets that were composed not of letters, but of illustrations. It is possible that I see illustration the way it really is: a narrative science that uses aesthetics as a creative resource.”
After studying at a number of prestigious schools in Colombia and Spain, Jhonny was ready to apply the most important lesson he says he was never taught at art school – “seize the time.” He plunged into the freelance world. A struggle at first, he eventually started to be able to support himself through his work. Today, he has a range of well-known brands on his client list, and moving to Russia to be with his wife hasn’t cooled down his productivity.
“While illustrating, I don´t think about the financial part of it and I feel good during this process. I am relaxed and I feel happy. Illustration is my key to escape and run from boring reality.”
Although globalisation undoubtedly affects the field, Johnny says he has picked up differences between Spain, Russia and his home country. “Colombians focus on a strong presence of the human figure and surrealism, Spain is known for its more narrative style and Russia for the use of landscapes.” As his favourite artist, he nominates Drake Brodahl (a Californian), but emphasises that there are a lot of fantastic illustrators that he follows.
His future dreams include illustrating for a world-famous clothes brand, making an illustration fest and possibly transforming his studio into an illustration agency so that he can “stop working till late at night.” His tips for young illustrators is to get adept at using the internet, which he likens to a superpower: “You can study for free, find answers to your questions, distribute your work, receive feedback, and what is more important, you can work in any part of the world for any brand or person. You just need to learn how to use it wisely.”
即使離開了西班牙和家鄉哥倫比亞的宜人氣候，在俄羅斯定居的Jhonny Núñez的作品依然充滿溫暖和生命。特徵為強烈色彩對比，他的作品在「拼貼與向量圖形」和「迪士尼和插畫家Jamie Hewlett」的雙極之間遊走。他形容自己的作品道：「世界上99.9%的插畫家都不知道應該怎樣為自己的作品命名，也之所以我定型自己的風格為『插畫、卡通、幼稚、復古、幾何』。」多貼切的形容！
當他在哥倫比亞和西班牙註明的學校修讀完畢後，他準備了將學校沒有教他的一課投入社會中實用 – 「善用時間」，他投身進自由職業當中。一開始事情並不順利，但他漸漸的能夠讓不同的項目支持生活。今天的他已經與不同知名品牌合作，而移居到俄羅斯並沒有讓他的生產力下降。
他最想做的項目是跟一個世界知名的服裝品牌合作、創辦插畫節和將自己的工作室進化成一個具規模的插畫機構，如此一來他便不需要工作至深夜。他給年輕插畫家的意見是盡量使用互聯網，更將之比喻為一種超能力。「您可以免費的學習、為自己的問題尋找答案、公開自己的作品、接收不同的反饋，更重要的是你可以與世界上任何品牌和團體合作 – 只要您學會善用它。」