If you’ve picked up any major publication within the last few years, chances are you came across the work of artist Igor Bastidas. The Venezuelan animator and director has dominated the editorial illustration space, with his clever and bold illustrations a mainstay within the pages of The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and more.
Igor moved from his hometown of Caracas to Brooklyn in 2017 and now works as a freelance artist making short films, GIFs, prints, and ads strongly influenced by his new city. His punchy, clean animation style uses saturated color-blocked primary hues and simple shapes, while his narrative eye is rife with wit and a dash of whimsy. One gander at his work, and you’ll find yourself infectiously smiling, increasingly endeared by the way Igor interprets the world around him and longing to see it from his eyes.
As a Venezuelan transplant now firmly embedded in such a vibrant but cut-throat city, I was intrigued to learn more about Igor’s artistic journey and point of view, so I asked him a few questions he was kind enough to answer below.
How would you describe the visual aesthetic of your work?
Maybe with two innate tendencies; a need for formal perfection, which I suppose comes from my graphic design background, and a desire for a free expression, something more organic and improvised. Then I always try to be simple but bold.
Does being from Venezuela influence that aesthetic in any way?
Stylistically, I’m always looking to not get too attached to a specific side of the world but rather to be part of everything through simplicity. On the other hand, I was part of a generation in Caracas that grew up in chaos. So, I may have used my sense of fun and playfulness as an escape, and it became part of my aesthetic.
How did you develop your unique animation style?
My style appeared by doing things the wrong way. I never felt comfortable with the Wacom, so I developed a way of drawing using the mouse. That’s why you can see some straight lines mixed with irregular traces in my illustrations. Same with the animations. I work frame-by-frame using layers from Illustrator, another “misuse” of a tool that I got used to. So everything was a combination of accidents. Currently, I have an iPad, and I’m really happy using it to draw, but the duality on the trace is still there.
Moving to NYC in 2017 appears to have impacted your work significantly, considering your projects like “The Big Apple” and your ongoing work with The New York Times and The New Yorker. Can you describe what it is about living in NYC that’s so inspiring?
NYC is all about the people; that’s the true gem here. You always find something new and different, and I need that random element in my life to get inspired. I decided to move to Brooklyn as a full-time freelancer after working for years at advertising agencies in Caracas, so this was a huge twist in my work process. That decision allowed me to do both personal and commercial projects and to choose my clients in some ways.
From where do you draw inspiration for your work? Are there other artists whose work you admire whom you look to?
I think I find “creativity” in some way through my life experiences. But of course, I love Will Vinton, George Dunning, David Hockney, Kiyoshi Awazu, Oskar Schlemmer Shelmmer, and Saul Steinberg, among many others.
You’ve found significant commercial success working with many large global brands like The New Yorker, Apple, Google, and Converse, to name a few. What has the experience of that success been like? Do you have any advice for other creatives hoping to make a living as professional artists?
I’m grateful for the clients I work with, but I try not to think so much about success and keep myself firmly planted on the ground. Having a clear mind is fundamental to get into a creative mood. I have my rituals. If I have time, I like to go out on my bike just after reading a new brief. I go out without having any destination; I just put some place into Google Maps, and I go there to clear my mind.
Of your recent work, is there any project, campaign, or assignment that sticks out as a favorite?
I’m really happy with my “Contemplative Animations” and all the intuitive processes behind it. Of course, I love working on my editorial illustrations too. I always want to do meaningful work, work that I’m not ashamed to leave behind.
Are there any creative goals that you are pursuing?
Consistent thinking, a stronger style, and keeping my brain working from the emotional side rather than the smart size—those are my goals. I want my projects to go deeper, more personal, and less ideal, conceptually speaking. That feeling of not knowing what I’m looking for is what I like.