10 Questions with Andrea De Santis
Andrea De Santis is a prolific Italian illustrator known for his bold colors and texturally rich visual storytelling. A former graphic designer, his career switch has found him in high demand with commissions from print and digital publications around the world. His latest project? Providing the interstellar illustrations for Little Gestalten’s new release Space Kids. Read on to find out more about the artist and his many passions below.
Which materials and processes do you use when working on an illustration?
Mostly I work with paper and an F pencil initially, and then use an HB pencil to clean the drawing. From there, I scan the drafts that work the best and do the coloration on Photoshop, as well as any additional changes that might be necessary to give to the client an idea of the color palette and style that I will use for the final piece. After we’ve agreed on an illustration, I proceed to trace my sketch on Illustrator. Adding details and shading the image with flat colors, I bring everything to Photoshop to apply textures, shadows, and effects such as lights and reflections as needed before finishing each piece off with small details to bring it all together.
Your work is also anchored in two colors—a specific shade of red and cyan. What is your relationship with these colors?
I like that cyan color very much, as it relaxes me and reminds me of the sky in springtime and the color of the sea. In this particular shade, there is some yellow that makes it a bit warm. As for the red, I don’t have any specific relationship with this color but it perfectly matches with the cyan and it is so useful when I want focus the attention towards the subject of an illustration.
With whom would your dream collaboration be?
I can say that I have already realized most of my dreams of illustrating covers and magazine covers, and seeing my illustrations around the world, or seeing sculptures inspired by my work. The only dream left is to collaborate with the New Yorker or the New York Times.
Where is your favorite place to unwind and gather inspiration?
In my bed just after I’ve laid down or in the evening on the sofa together with my wife and my three fat cats.
If you were to describe your style of illustration with three words, which three words would you chose?
Conceptual, isometric, and poetic.
Do any other illustrators or visual artists in particular inspire you?
Currently I follow illustrators with a variety of different styles such as Miroslav Sasek, Jùlia Sardà, Karl James Mountford, Tomasz Wagner, Isabella Mazzanti, and Yuri Shwedoff, as well as the work of renowned artists: Karolis Strautniekas, Cohen Pohl, Rafael Varona, Kozou Sakai, Reno Nogaj, Riccardo Guasco, and Tom Haugomat.
Is there an illustration in Space Kids of which you are most proud?
I’m definitely proud of the first one illustration, in which a girl is laying on the grass is watching the sky. I’m proud of this one because was the first approach I took with this illustrated book as a concept. It can be challenging to take a unique approach to a children’s book, but in this spread I succeeded to find the right balance, designing the illustration with the Big Bang as a reflection in the water.
If you could illustrate any book, novel, or childhood story, which one would you choose?
To illustrate one of the Grimm's fairy tales it would be really funny.
What is your favorite part of working as an illustrator?
The most beautiful part of working as an illustrator is knowing that many people appreciate my work, and knowing what kind of stories I can tell with my illustrations.
Do you have any other exciting projects in the pipeline?
Lately, I’ve been constantly busy with many magazines, book covers, and regular commission such as from the Observer and the Guardian and from Psychologies magazine, but I’d like organize a personal exhibition with my favorite works sooner or later.