Ales Div is a Barcelona-based illustrator whose work evokes pure and naïve feelings that are often forgotten during adulthood. Using bold lines and old-school colours, he creates stand-out everyday mascots for a range of mediums.
His playful universe is charged not only with humor, but also with cultural and social references fed by 1930’s cartoons, 60’s ad illustrations, 80’s NY graffiti and pop culture at its widest.
Hey Ales, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a freelance illustrator?
I’ve been drawing since i was a kid and have always been fascinated with cartoons and 80s graffiti. My parents had a small independent clothing store and I suppose for that reason i’ve always been interested in clothing, prints, graphics and logos, since I can remember.
I’ve worked for several fashion companies over the years, but i’ve always felt like I had to develop my own thing and look for my own references. Over time I’ve started to build my own universe, which is mostly about vintage clothing graphics, classic american 30s cartoons, 80s nyc graffiti and naive and ignorant paintings.
We’re enjoying the blend of traditional and modern elements in your work. How did you discover this way of working, have you always worked this way, or has it been something that has come about naturally over time?
I love the traditional ways of graphic arts in general. I remember being obsessed with wrapping candies and how you can appreciate the traditional screen printing process over funny cartoon fruits and characters. I usually work with pencils and brushpens, mixing techniques and processes from traditional tattoo flash and hand drawing. Then I scan my originals and work with a computer. I discovered this process after working with digital processes and vectors for years. I’ve always found that the characters and graphics were just didn’t have a personality when only working digital. When I create something by hand first, unique things come out that wouldn’t have otherwise.
I see a lot of antiques and 50’s references in your studio, what would you say has inspired you the most?
I am a huge fan of antique toys, toys that my parents can remember from their childhoods. A lot of the time people get really excited when they see my collection as old childhood memories come to their minds, things that they had forgotten. This familiar feeling is something I try to communicate with my work. I love to mix different references from past decades and put it all of them together to create a new world.
How does a typical day-to-day look like for you?
I usually wake up early, prepare myself a juicy smoothie and go to my friend’s bar just by my place to have breakfast and check some emails and social media stuff. I’m used to having a long walk and usually going to check out Encants street market, then grocery shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables. Then when I’m back home I start working into the evening.
What do you love most about your job as an illustrator and why?
My favourite thing is to spend time drawing and creating, I have a need for it, which makes it great that it’s my job and im very grateful for that. Sometimes my mood about this kind of life is like a roller coaster and my feeling go up and down but at the end, that freedom and the feeling of doing what you want is just priceless.
We had a lot of fun working with you on the recent campaign for the Ajuntament de Barcelona. How was it working with studio Device on that production and working with an animation team?
It was amazing and i’m really grateful for the opportunity. I’ve always wanted to be part of a project like the Ajuntament de Barcelona one and everyone involved is did an amazing job. I really admire and respect the whole team involved and working with such a talented team of people helped me learn a lot and improve my work. I meet a bunch of great people in the process and cant wait to be part of future projects with the team.
What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a freelance illustrator?
The best advice that I can give is to never stop and don’t be in a hurry to succeed. Do your own thing, build your own imaginary, stay focused, give it some time and everything will come to you.