Just as Juan Vallecillos was gearing himself up to enter the big, bad world that can be the creative industry, the pandemic hit. Having studied illustration at the Murcia School of Art where Juan crafted a fascinating practice filled with pink-popping comic panels and expression filled characters, he started off his career with a bit of a rough patch, finding himself in the depths of a pandemic as a new graduate. “It was difficult to break into the field,” the Murcia-based Juan tells us, but little by little, more and more art directors started to find then commission Juan’s unique talents and before he knew it, he had his first briefs from national press publications such as El País, GQ and El Santo.
It wasn’t always his plan to work in editorial illustration, but as the assignments started to come in, Juan adjusted to the one-off briefs where he was tasked to tell a whole story in one static image, and with time, began to love it. What first pulled him into the medium of illustration, however, was the possibility of creating his own universes, just like the artists he looked up to. “I feel that through graphic expression, it is possible to reach the intangible,” he explains. And looking at Juan’s bold portfolio of works, he certainly achieves that delicate balance of astounding visual punchiness mixed with an unfolding story told through the contemporary compositions which straddle spheres of figuration and abstraction.
“My illustrations are always based on the communication of concepts,” says Juan. “That the first thing, I need to have a clear idea of something before I start to draw.” When he’s working on a commission specifically, he tries to soak up as much information as quickly as possible in order to meet the deadline. Though the subject matter of an article may be entirely new to Juan, he sees it as an opportunity to learn something new, and dives into research head first. In turn, bringing a fresh dimension of understanding to the work at hand.