These vector-based illustrations & GIFs are clean, crisp and pop with colour

Eduardo Fuentes uses sharp geometric shapes and bold colours in his art, and now he’s experimenting with 3D software and creating GIFs.

London-based freelance illustrator Eduardo Fuentes composites beautiful vector-based illustrations that resemble a digital papercut nature, and is experimenting with translating this style to 3D and animation projects. 

His illustrations tend to combine defined geometric shapes and bold colours in a crisp and clear manner to depict a narrative. But we’re enjoying his recent GIF projects that take on a more chaotic – perhaps mechanical – nature.

Edu was born in Madrid and studied photography and illustration at the School of Art and Design. He’s worked as a freelancer ever since. His work includes many editorial clients, of which include Monocle, Wired UK, Oxford University Press and WPP.

He also started and regularly contributes to online design magazine Happy Wednesday. 

We spoke to Edu about creating GIFs, how he thinks illustration is becoming more linked to animation and the creative freedom he’s given for editorial work.

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

Miriam Harris: Who has inspired your work?

Eduardo Fuentes: "So many! I’m a big fan of Lotta Nieminem; I love the way she uses colour, and Raymond Biesinger’s geometric simplicity. Also, although my line of work is quite different from his, I find Olaf Hajek’s paintings incredibly inspiring. Outside illustration I draw much inspiration from cinema. I can watch any (Stanley) Kubrick movie an infinite number of times. Also, Wes Anderson and Nicolas Winding."

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

MH: Tell us a bit about your recent Surprise Box project. What was it for and what was your creative process?

EF: "Surprise Box is an experimental self-initiated piece - it’s the result of playing with 3D software. After doing some advertising work - which is planned and storyboarded meticulously with narrow margin to improvisation- I wanted to do something playful.

I tried to associate ideas as they came to my head, and create a composition with that. A lot of doodling later, I created the shapes in Illustrator, and exported them to Cinema 4D. The second part was developing a 3D environment for the shapes, to create a bit of depth between the different layers, experiment with lights and shadows, and throw in a bit of motion in the process."

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

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MH: Your recent projects are motion graphics/GIFs – are you wanting to explore this medium a little more?

EF: "Absolutely! I believe the future of illustration is linked to animation, and the boundaries between the two are getting blurred. The GIF format is a great bridge between the two. I love the extra possibilities you have with just a second or two of animation. For now I’ve used it as a nice extra, a cherry on top to add interest and draw the eye to the illustration, but I’m exploring ways of adding layers of meaning with motion."

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

MH: We see you’ve done a lot of editorial work. Are you given a lot of creative freedom with this?

EF: "Yeah, quite a lot! Editorial illustrations are all about concept, so you have to spend most of the time raking up your brain and doodling dozens of micro-pictograms before you come up with good ideas. If you do this phase right, the client will trust your style choices. The only constraint I can think of was given by the nice people at Times Higher Education magazine: “Please, if possible avoid mortar-boards”. Totally understandable!" 

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

MH: What’s the idea behind Happy Wednesday? Tell us why you created the design zine.

EF: "It all started as a side project between three pals, illustrator Barbarana, infographer Sergio Fernandez and I. The zine was an excuse to create experimental artwork that wouldn’t fit in our regular jobs. Each issue had a theme i.e. boredom, authority, banquet… It was lots of fun! 

Eventually we started receiving submissions from fellow illustrators so it all expanded quite organically. We released each issue on a particular day of the week, but I can’t remember which one…"

Image: Eduardo Fuentes

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MH: What upcoming projects can we expect from you?

EF: "Definitely more motion and more 3D. I enjoy creating GIFs and eventually would like to explore the short video format. I’ve also been wrapping my head around Unity lately, slowly learning to code. In the long term I’d love to design my own space-shooter - I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid!"

Image: Eduardo Fuentes