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Leo Espinosa
on design
Nuts and Bolts
posted:
As I mentioned in my previous post, last month was bananas between driving out west to our new home and the amount of work that fell on me. One of the most complex but VERY fulfilling projects was the design and art direction of a TV spot that just aired on national television in Colombia over the weekend.
My good friend, (director) Mauricio Pardo, asked me if I was interested in designing the overall look and characters for a commercial commemorating 60 years of Colombia's biggest oil company. The challenge was to show how much the client cares about education, progress and the environment using some sort of loose mechainism the Ad Agency had in mind. Timing was tight, but I thought that my use of color, simple shapes and character design could really work well with their concept and agreed to it. What I didn't anticipate was  that the same look needed to be carried over to the print campaing and that I would need to illustrate the ads in record time.

Long story short, two weeks of solid work, many cups of coffee, a few all-nighters and all the graphics were done. Then came the collaboration with the director, the creative team, the animation studio and the sound designers. They all did their magic (with a lot more coffee consumption I must guess) and the campaing was finished up and delivered to the public!

One of the main constrains for the TV ad, was fitting in all the ideas that came from the agency, animated at a reasonable pace. All my drawings were already done but not all of them made it to the final cut. Like the frame you see above, which was meant to be the closing of the spot
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This was one of the illustrations done for print. The look needed to be as close as possible to the TV spot but with a little bit more detail, texture and volume
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These are some background and characters, both from print and TV, that will be featured in a 60" version of the commecial. I had a kick designing the little critters!
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The short 35 sec. version of the ad!
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PRODUCTION HOUSE: Colombo Films DIRECTOR: Mauricio Pardo ART DIRECTOR AND DESIGNER: Leo Espinosa POST PRODUCTION: Dr. Pepe ANIMATORS Dr. Pepe: Catalina Noriega PRODUCTION Dr. Pepe : Camila Robayo EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Nathalie Burnside ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Andres Cortes SOUND DESIGNER : Sonica AGENCY: Sancho/BBDO CREATIVE TEAM: Sandra Murillo, Dario Rodriguez CREATIVE DIRECTORS : Juan Gomez, Andres Maranta R&TV: Maria Mercedes Medina
Piñatarama / Museum of Modern Art / México City
posted:

Piñatas are just becoming popular around here but they are as symbolic as coffee or salsa to my culture. I grew up with crazy piñata parties begging to be blindfolded and span around, armed with a broom stick and then released in search for the treasure amidst a loud group of hungry-for-candy monsters. I still remember the rush of throwing blind ninja moves with the stick, trying to remain standing, drunk of laughter, hearing the bang! followed by kids screaming and then diving down with the crowd to fetch a few candies, whistles and plastic soldiers
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I felt something quite similar when fellow illustrator Cecilia Meade asked me to participate in Piñatarama, a marvelous color fiesta featuring 40 Piñatas designed by artists from around the world, masterfully crafted by Mexican artisans. The show opened on June 11 at the Museum of Modern Art in México city and will be on view until September
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Many thanks to Dr. Alderete, Clarisa Moura, David Gamez and of course to Cecilia for coming up with such a beautiful idea and for their kind invitation. My respect and admiration goes out to the piñateros, Ricardo Linares, Lorenzo García, Marcial García and also to the Museum for supporting this kind of exhibitions
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photo: lugh

For more information about the project and a complete list of the artists, please visit pinatarama.com ^ above pic: lugh
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Preliminary sketch of my flying burrito and the finished piñata
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Rotations delivered to the piñateros as guidelines for my design, and below, a sweet video tour of the event
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A Song for Japan
posted:
A Song for Japan is a postcard book featuring the work of 30 Colombian artists, put together by PechaKucha Night Bogotá & estudio ph3 to collect funds for the reconstruction of Japan through Architecture for Humanity.
Many thanks to Nobara Hayakawa and Jorge Restrepo for selecting my contribution to be the cover and the title of such a thoughtful project.
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In-Betweens
posted:

Many moons ago when I made the switch from design to illustration, I only did the minimum sketches necessary for any given assignment but rarely drew for fun. I don't think I even had a sketchbook for years. Luckily, that changed with time and I embraced drawing as a daily ritual.
I started teaching this semester to a mixed group of illustrators and designer and drawing has become the perfect common ground from where we start every single project. I keep remind them about the importance of drawing constantly. Drawing without thinking and drawing with a lot of thinking. Drawing uninspired and drawing with a muse. Drawing fast thumbnails but also complete concepts. Drawing to spark strong ideas instead of spending hours and hours clicking the mouse around waiting for ideas to happen. Here's a few recent editorial jobs and some of the doodles I do (for fun) in between assignments.
Pictured above, a piece about young hackers and their mighty power for Wired magazine
 
An illo on how bad 3D video games are for little children for Baby and Toddler magazine (left) and a fast sketch inspired by a cool kid I spotted at the airport in Atlanta (right)
 
This one was for The Atlantic, for an article about robots that have been programed to answer people's tweets... hah, and you thought someone was actually interested in how special your cat is!
 

Doodles on scrap paper
 
A piece about retirement and dangerous investments for Plansponsor magazine
 
And last but not least, some small details from a couple of commissioned pieces that started as personal work from my sketchbook.
Flying South
posted:
AIGA SC CHAPTER / UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

Megafono #3
posted:

Megafono is a terrific publication about illustration, design, photography (and music too, track 2 is amazing!) put together in Barranquilla, Colombia.
I'm very happy to see the magazine has made it to its third issue, and more than that, honored to be featured in it along with such a talented group of artist and friends.

Many thanks to Luis Hernandez (the ink), for his kind invitation and endless patience.
 
MEGAFONO #3
Megafono #3
posted:

Megafono is a terrific publication about illustration, design, photography (and music too, track 2 is amazing!) put together in Barranquilla, Colombia.
I'm very happy to see the magazine has made it to its third issue, and more than that, honored to be featured in it along with such a talented group of artist and friends.

Many thanks to Luis Hernandez (the ink), for his kind invitation and endless patience.
 
MEGAFONO #3
Twister
posted:

I love packaging design and it's always a treat when I get to put on my designer hat for this kind of projects. In the past few years I've illustrated several game boxes for Hasbro, but last year I got a call from them to work on their classic Twister box (insert happy face). After the first round of sketches, I was surprised to hear that the AD, Joe Dzialo, liked the one where I didn't fill all the characters with color and I was expecting that if going in that direction -which I really liked for its simplicity- I was going to be asked to give everything a solid color. Joe replied that keeping those outlined areas made the whole composition more dynamic. Well.. his decision made my day!

It took a while but the game is finally out, and -I've heard- looks quite sharp on the shelves (Insert winking face!)
Warm and Fuzzy
posted:
It's not a surprise that the first signs of the warm and fuzzy feelings of the Holiday Season are showing up earlier each year. To me that means that by late October I'm wearing a wool hat and sipping coffee while working extra long hours, often until I see the sunrise peeking through my studio window. One of the projects I've done in the past weeks is this illustration for Nicolukas Bakery; The design studio gave me total freedom and the only request was that I had to emulate the atmosphere of Santa's workshop but using my original characters. It was quite tricky to fit all the details I had initially created and sadly I had to leave a few out, but at the end I was very happy with how it came out. Many thanks to my dear friend Zina Saunders for her invaluable help with all my Photoshop questions (I couldn't have finished on time without it) and to Lucho Correa for such a fun assignment.

Happy Holidays everyone!
The Katamari Show
posted:

I know close to zero about video games but I was very happy to participate in The Katamari Damacy Show, which opened last Thursday at Floating World Comics in Portland, OR.
Katamari is perhaps the only game I'm really familiar with ONLY because I love its simple graphics and characters. All the artwork from the show will be auctioned off online, including the template I designed to make your own Prince paper toy.
All proceeds will go to JOIN, a nonprofit organization that supports the homeless by helping them return to permanent housing.
I♥KAWAII
posted:

A great compilation of Japanese inspired kawaii art has been put together by my talented friend Charuca in the recently published book, I♥KAWAII.
The term Kawaii (Japanese for cute) represents a whole movement of popular culture that started in the seventies in Japan and has become one of the most iconic and recognizable graphic phenomena in the world today.
To me, the most beautiful thing about this book is that through a vast array if styles, one can see how the movement has been visually translated into different cultures that have assimilated its essence without doing a mere copy of it.
 

I'm honored to be included in this fantastic group of artists and friends, including Aranzi Aronzo, Bubi Au Yeung, Catalina Estrada, Charuca, Devil Robots, FriendsWithYou, Laura Osorno, Mari-Chan, Meomi, Mizuka, Peskimo, Superdeux, Tado and many more!
 

I♥KAWAII is available online HERE and worldwide in the next couple of months.
If you are interested in getting a signed copy + a super cute pack of postcards by Charuca, you can contact her directly.
Thank you, Charuca + Monsa!
 
cover illustration © Charuca
 
Colibríes
posted:
I'm in the midst of preparing a gallery show and wanted to share a little portion of one of the pieces that has me really excited. This little humming bird (colibrí in Spanish) is one of a swarm of more than a hundred that will be adding to the mood of the space. I cannot give away the whole idea simply because I'm not sure (yet) if the swarm will create the effect I'm looking for; I'll certainly post pictures of the results!

The show will take place at Gallery Turbo in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the month of May. Stay tuned for more details.
One day left. Please Vote!
posted:
Hey kids,
I submitted a tee shirt design called Britpop Drummer Bunny to Threadless.com to be voted on and hopefully printed. Needless to say, If I get enough high scores the shirt will be printed and sold from the site!
Now there is only one question: Can this master of rhythm and style count with your vote?
Thank you, Citizens of The World!
Leo Carrots
Dream Project
posted:
I've been very fortunate to do a few very fulfilling dream projects during my career but the one I did over the summer exceeded my expectations for many reasons: One, I was asked to illustrate characters from the classic fables of Rafael Pombo, one of Colombia's most famous poets and authors, but more important than that, those where the fables many generations, including mine, grew up reading and I always, always wanted to recreate them in my own style. Two, The illustrations were done for an amazing music project put together by Grammy Award winner, Carlos Vives, with the idea of bringing back Pombo's legacy, but this time, seasoned with all sorts of music rhythms so new generations would enjoy them as well . Three, I went back to live and work in Bogota for almost a month! That might not sound like a big thing to you but I had not been there for so long since I left for New York something close to sixteen years ago. I could keep going but I better stop at my fourth reason: The CD, titled Pombo Musical, was released in early August and in a matter of days turned Platinum! I finally got my own copy yesterday (gracias, Valeria), so here's a little mix of pics, sketches and final art of this dream project I will always hold really close to my heart.
Creating the characters was the biggest challenge since I wanted a contemporary but at the same time classic look to evoke my childhood Pombo books.
The music aspect of the project was perhaps the biggest influence when creating these characters. Every song is interpreted by a different artist and has a different rhythm. Because of Colombia's topography the difference of cultures and music is very rich and diverse. This was my everyday uniform for insporation: a "Vueltiao" sombrero from the Caribean coast.
Sketches and more sketches. I did many versions of each character focusing on the importance of making them my own, trying to forget about trends and visual influences.
Here's a detail of the CD sleeve. One side was printed with the lyrics/fables and the other was done as a big poster with tons of characters.
Another detail: Playing with type and a simple palet made the project really enjoyable and less stressful. The designer and I were working against the clock! (Keep in mind people always have to make room for very long lunches down there :-)
Macario, from the fable "El robanidos" (the nest snatcher) was perhaps one of my favorites. Because of how dynamic his pose came out, I had to go back and redesign some other characters that look too stiff in comparison. That added a couple of allnighters but it was totally worth it.
All those bright colors can make you very hungry. Fortunately there was always good food around. Pictured here, an Argentinean alfajor (my favorite dessert).
Et voilà! The unfolded CD sleeve doubling as a poster! I'm hoping kids would spend time exploring all the details I put in there and using these drawings as a reference to create their own.
Icons needed to be created to decorate the lyrics and to use with collateral material. I usually hate doing these little thingies, but I trully enjoyed creating this set. The little bird is from a song about the soul (which has no wings but it can fly) but I'm not even goint to attempt a translation. Pombo's words are too precious for me to mess up with them.
Besides the illustrations that were part of the CD cover, which I created in pencil and markers and colored in Photoshop, I also did vector versions that are going to be used for merchandising.
One more vector character I was really please with: Her name is "Tía Pasitrote" and she is that crazy aunt that's always in a rush going somewhere.
And finally the creative team behind Pombo Musical: My good friend and design director Lucho Correa, who taught me a lot while creating this project, Me, the doodle director and Carlitos Vives, the music mastermind. Not pictured here but a key ingredient of the whole enchilada, Claudia Vasquez.
Did I mention that that's a cardboard sombrero?
Obama T-Shirt Take 2
posted:

Last night we had a big fundraising event at the New England Gallery of Latin American Arts to support Barack Obama. I donated a tee shirt design but I'm also going to do some volunteer work too because there's NO WAY we're going to miss this opportunity! Next week we'll be knocking door to door in New Hampshire just to be sure people are registered and voting for the right candidate.
Latinos for Obama, baby!

Raul Gonzalez and Leo Espinosa say "SI" to change!
Actually, that particular face expression means "SI, SI, SI, SI!" south of the border :+)

People from the Obama campaign were there to support the event
(and to enjoy the sangria and the empanadas)

Back (pack) to school
posted:

Today Ben rolled out to school with his new Kiko backpack, and man was I happy!? I'm making a one of a kind with markers and acrylics for Sofia because sadly there's not a girl version of Kiko bags out yet. I will post pics soon.
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