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Gabriel Sorondo is an artist/designer from Miami, Florida. He specializes in charcoal/mixed media drawing and digital illustration and graphic design. At the moment, Gabriel is also exploring creating NFTs.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you currently do?
I'm an illustrator and graphic designer from Miami, Florida. In terms of what I do specifically I would say I do a little bit of a lot of things but where I'm taking my skills currently is in children's books, apparel graphics, and NFT art. I work primarily in 2 styles; very graphic ink style illustrations (such as the "Frankenride" illustration) and in a more traditional-looking style similar to working with charcoal only digitally.
What sparked your interest in doing graphic design?
Ever since I could remember people have told me I was going to be an artist. Naturally, I went into graphic design and got my Associates in that. I later learned of illustration. I was advised to go study this field of art by a professor I had at the time (circa 2008). I was new to it so, I did some research and, long story short, I received my Bachelor's in Illustration from Ringling College of Art + Design. Graphic design, as most think of it, dealing with type, layouts, packaging, etc., was always in the background as I studied Illustration but not really at the forefront of what I wanted to do. I did however work primarily as a graphic designer when I did toy design for a number of years but I recently left that role. That's a whole 'nother story.
I saw you're dabbling into illustrating NFTs, how's that going for you?
Yes! I'm grateful to be experiencing this new frontier in the art world. I got 2 NFT gigs in the past 4 months and they were very rewarding. I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic human beings and the experience opened up new doors for me as well, allowing me to get a foot into this new and exciting world of NFTs. Now, I'm creating my own NFt collection (the cat drawing). It's still in the works but I'm pretty excited about it.
Where do you get inspiration from and who are your influences?
Inspiration is a funny thing. I think part of it is the lightbulb over the head feeling where you don't quite know where an idea comes from and it hits you like a ton of bricks but over time I've learned the other side of inspiration is putting in the time and work into what you love and always being present and grateful for your successes and failures as both offer opportunities for growth and change. Where do I get my inspiration? Hmmm. I suppose seeing others excel, specifically with some creative endeavour, motivates me to sit down and start getting those creative juices flowing. This can also happen when I hear a particularly well arranged piece of music as well; I hear the music but mainly I hear the ideas, and when ideas can hit you so hard that they evoke involuntary responses, that's fuel right there. Deep discussions about philosophy, morals, life, evolution, religion, psychology, science, sci-fi, all of this can trigger inspiration to strike as well.
Do you have a particular "style"/"technique"? How did you develop your style?
As previously mentioned, I have 2 main styles; the more traditional charcoal-looking one and the more graphic ink style one. The traditional one comes from actually using charcoal. There was one project in particular where I really latched onto the aesthetic of charcoal and that was a children's book I illustrated with my wife Lianne as the author. It was the first real big project I had self-initiated and it really was pivotal for these reasons. The other style, the ink one, simply comes from doodling and enjoying the freeform nature of drawing from my imagination with the visual vocabulary I've developed thus far. This is also applicable to my charcoal style but more evident in this ink one; There's a certain flow that comes from working this way. It's something about the permanence of the ink and the fact that once I put a mark down it's there for good. Granted, working with photoshop I can simply edit>undo, but this style, like with charcoal, comes from actually using ink and brush on paper so these sort of "lessons", if you will, stick with me.
I partook in a project a while back where I had to create some graphics for t-shirts. I began working in photoshop to replicate the aesthetic I had in mind but it only led to frustration as no matter how polished I made the work i did not seem to have the same look and feel that I was going for. Frustrated, I had an epiphany; The way to achieve the particular ink and brush style was to...::drum role:: use REAL pen and ink! From there on it was all smiles. I later learned to no only find a way to integrate what I learned from working traditionally into a digital media but also embrace the tool that is digital painting.
Besides all this, I'm always experimenting with different stylistic approaches to work. Sometimes a project will call for something more traditional or something more digital or maybe something more flat and vector like; I'm always open to new looks.
What software do you use to create your artwork?
I work with Photoshop and Illustrator. I would, and have in the past, use Procreate as well but I don't own an Ipad. However, my cintq and photoshop are my go-tos.
Can you give us some tips on doing digital art/graphic design?
1. Same as with working on an oil painting or any traditional medium; the drawing is foundational and fundamental to the success of the final product. Plan as much as necessary and the rest of the work will fall into place much smoother.
2. Watch your layers ( the amount of them). Sometimes you'll find you need 100 plus layers but I've learned that most of the time I'm able to consolidate a lot of those. The only I'm tempted to just create a new layer rather than thinking about whether I can work on an already existing one is mainly out of laziness and urgency to complete the project. It's the same reason why we all (and don't say you've never done this. You know who you are) name our files " Final", "Final Last", "Final Final 2", etc. I think there's a meme of that somewhere on the internet. But again, this is all planning. If you can practice planning for these small things, like naming files, then planning for big things will come much easier.
3. You don't need a fancy drawing tablet. I worked with a small screenless Wacom Bamboo tablet for years. I enjoyed it very much and still have it with me today. Comes in handy when I'm traveling and need to work elsewhere. It wasn't until recently that I was gifted my Cintq which is a game changer but the point is...you can do alot with less if you have to.