Yime de Santiago is an illustrator with a penchant for finding influence from memes, gifs and online satire. With past work including designing for a Zara collection, Yime has already mastered the best approach when tackling the illustration field.

What’s your education background, and how did it help to develop you and your work?

I studied Fine Arts in Madrid. In my first year, I met Andrés Lozano and he helped me focus on illustration. We created the fanzine called GUTS along with ten other fellow illustrator and designers from uni. It had a great reception and it encouraged me to keep working on developing a style within this discipline.

After that, I moved to Valencia to study a Masters in illustration in 2015. This was a milestone in my career - I met a lot of new people whose interests were similar to mine and I started believing more in myself as an artist. I kind of understood that it was possible to make a living out of what I liked to do.

Science Lab
Science Lab, Yime de Santiago

"I find it quite easy to get lost in my thoughts when I am in busy environments, and that helps me focus more on the details of the everyday life so I can then translate them into images or gags."

Usbek Et Rica
Usbek & Rice, Yime de Santiago

Who, what or where do you draw your main inspiration of your work from? 

I am a millennial, so I use internet and social media on a daily basis. I guess a lot of what I do is highly influenced by what I see online; jokes, memes, gifs, people telling their issues in a satirical or comical way. I try to gather all that and create my own universe around it.

Apart from wasting my life on the Internet, I love going out, commuting and sitting outside just to observe situations and people’s behaviours. I find it quite easy to get lost in my thoughts when I am in busy environments, and that helps me focus more on the details of the everyday life so I can then translate them into images or gags.

Answering the “who” I draw my inspiration from, I would say satirical artists like Jeff Koons, David Shrigley or Joan Cornellá; but also influential minds like Elon Musk or Kanye West play an important role in how I try to shape the narratives of the era I am living in. Also, Lil Pump cannot be missed as an important icon of what I think art should be at this point in history.

Nine By Nine
Nine by Nine

A lot of your illustrations are very detailed and complex, what is the technical and creative process for these pieces and how long do they take? 

It’s simpler that it may seem. I start off by writing down things I would like to add into the drawing or sketching really small thumbnails of any ideas or compositions I want to work on, or I think people will find funny. Then I choose one of the thumbnails and draw it a big bigger (A5 size, usually). Once I am happy with how the rough looks, I scan it and start cleaning it up and detailing more with the Wacom until I feel like the sketch is just as good as it can get, trying to fill up every blank space. I like to say I do a modern ‘Horror Vacui’.

Once it all looks full and cheeky, I do the linework, choose a colour palette that I will normally change along the process, and add some textures to give the image a print look. It usually takes around three days to work on the whole process, but it depends on the complexity of the image. For example, I just finished a drawing of a battle and it took a bit more because I did everything on paper, but three days is the normal timing for me.

Oil On Denim
Oil on denim design, Yime de Santiago

What has been your favourite project so far?

Definitely the collection I did with Zara back in 2017. Zara contacted me and two other Spanish artists (Ricardo Cavolo and Mercedes Bellido) to create a capsule collection on some denim clothes. We met the production team and spent a few days at the offices working on the designs. Then we went to Amsterdam to present the collection in the Denim Fashion Week and we painted a mural in the main Zara store of the city. Amazing experience.

It was a bitter-sweet project though: one of my pieces went viral because someone mistook my design with a drawing that had been quite controversial at that time in America, regarding Trump and Hillary Clinton. A lot of newspapers and media companies tried to contact me and I was a bit overwhelmed but, at the end, everything was fine. It gave me a lot of visibility and no one thought it was actually offensive. Despite all that, it was amazing to work with such a big company and this project gave me a lot of confidence in myself and my path, helping me define even more my message and my aesthetics.

Fricote Magazine
Fricote Magazine, Yime de Santiago

"Focus your energies in what really needs to be done and how you can and want to do it. Be patient, persistent and keep a routine, even if you are doing 40 hour week in a restaurant."

What tips can you give other creatives in your position, based on the lessons you’ve learned so far in your field?

I tend to think I should be the person receiving tips, because there are so many talented creatives out there, but I would tell people to focus on working on whatever it is you are doing, as long as it makes you happy and you do it well. Share your work where people can see what you do, especially people in the industry. Then, contact people. Start with fellow artist, then go to art directors and agencies. This second part is as important – if not more – than the first one, so don’t be shy and talk to everyone!

Also, be honest to yourself. Know where you are and what needs to be done to move towards your goal. I don’t think it’s easy to be honest in this time in which we seem to always be competing with everyone around, so this is an important factor too.

Another great life-hack that a friend who is a business consultant gave me was to write down how you feel every morning, and also write what you have to do the next day every night. This helps you focus your energies in what really needs to be done and how you can and want to do it. Be patient, persistent and keep a routine, even if you are doing 40 hour week in a restaurant. It pays off.

To be more specific about what I have learned in my field, I would say: Work a lot on the idea and prepare neat sketches, it makes it much easier afterwards. Also, don’t do just the same exact thing forever, it may be good for Instagram clout, but it is not the very best way to make money. The more you investigate, the more possibilities of finding great things you’ve got.

Oil On Denim Yime
Oil on denim design, Yime de Santiago

What upcoming projects have you got planned, or would like to do in the future? Do you think you will always stick to you specific area?

I am currently working on a Music Festival graphic image and I am loving it. I cannot be thankful enough to be getting this kind of opportunities, (plus, the money is good too). I also have planned to create a clothing brand with funny designs by the end of this year, but that’s going a bit slower since it does not only depend on me. You need a team if you want to make it properly.

I would like to do a collaboration with Nike or some other big corporation. I have always loved sneakers and would definitely not bother me to design some kicks for one of the big boys.

I don’t think I will always be doing the same thing I do right now. I mean, I love it and it is great, but freelancing can be quite exhausting and stressful sometimes and I cannot picture my fifty-year-old self taking the work binges I take now. It’s just physically and mentally impossible in my opinion. However, I will always be creating, and I am sure I will be doing illustration in the future. I just believe (and hope) I will be smart enough to make sure illustration is not my only source of income and I have a wide enough network to be able to create and sell whatever comes out of my mind. Honestly, wouldn’t mind becoming a Pop artist.

Alide Yime
Yime de Santiago
Bad And Boujee
Bad and Boujee, Yime de Santiago
Forbes Spain
Forbes, Yime de Santiago
Retina Magazine
Retina Magazine, Yime de Santiago
Space10 X Csm
Space10 cover, Yime de Santiago
Space10 X Csm Cover
Space10, Yime de Santiago
Tapas Magazine
Tapas Magazine, Yime de Santiago

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