Douglas Rodas: Illustrator & Designer
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m Douglas Rodas, a 25-year-old illustrator and graphic designer from a tiny, tropical and super-hot country called El Salvador. What's an interesting fact about where you're from?
Hmmm, maybe that even though it’s mainly known as one of the most dangerous places to live thanks to the media (which is actually true), there’s quite nice things about living here too. One of them is that literally everything is near to you. One time I was at the beach with some friends by day and at the end of that same day I was at a wedding in the top of a volcano haha! So yeah, besides all the political and economic stuff going on, we’re very rich in terms of natural places you can visit anytime you want. Places that also uphold all the cultural and historical memory of our dark past, so they feel like a sanctuary or an oasis to me. It is not like you are escaping reality, but that these places portray how life was before (and during) our most trying times. I don’t know if that even makes sense at all haha, but for me, the best thing of living in such a conflictive place is finding peace and the truth of our history in nature.
Indelible Nature, 2019
Have you always been creative?
Well, I guess? Haha. Since I was a little kiddo I always liked to keep my hands busy. I was either painting on a wall or just building fake cinematic cameras made out of empty boxes. I’ve always felt comfortable expressing myself and creating stuff. When I grew up I was known as the ‘creative person’ of my class in high school. If anyone wanted something that had to involve creativity, it was me they turned to. Somehow all this background gave me the clarity to determinate that I wanted to enroll a creative program at university, so I started studying Graphic Design because it was the closest program related to the creative field here in El Salvador.
How did you get into art and illustration?
So, yeah. After I got to embark myself on studying this program that I barely knew what it was about at that moment, one year I had to took an Illustration class. Back then, I didn’t even know how illustration was different from art itself or even from creating drawings just for fun. So, in that course I was introduced to this famous term ‘illustration’ and they taught me how could I actually make a living out of it, and, that the main difference between illustration and art was that illustration is just a visual tool with the specific function of successfully expressing a thought or idea; while art is just doing whatever the hell you want haha. So yeah, from there I started to navigate both directions, using illustrations as a tool of communication (both personal and commercially), but also, creating art in different ways just trying to pour out my feelings and emotions, through drawing, painting, mixing, DJing, etc.
What is it you love most about it? Well, basically that both, thru art and illustration you get to connect with other people without verbally expressing a word. And even though art is just this ambiguous concept nobody can put inside a box, people still can connect with your artistic expression. I just use art as a way to keep myself inspired, and illustration is just the tool I mainly choose to inspire others. So, it’s quite an interesting process that I love because I get to know the inner workings of my mind too!
Lido Flower, 2020
How do you get inspired?
Hahaha, at this point I think my responses are so long that I anticipate the next question. But yeah, as I mentioned in the previous question, I got mainly inspired by exploring different creative mediums… But my favorite is music! Music is so important in my creative process. I get almost all my ideas and motivation thru it. One of the most exciting parts of this process is curating music. I love creating playlists with specific moods and concepts haha. But also, I really enjoy watching movies and finding beauty in oddity and not-so-beauty characters.
What’s your process like?
See what I’m saying? I already mentioned part of my creative process in the previous question haha. But as of my complete process, it depends on the project. If it is for a specific client, I would like to get a quick brief of what are the project needs but also get to know which are the intentions of the client with the illustration/design. Then I would go to find some references and create a moodboard (playlist included!). Usually at this stage of the project I think communication with the clients is key, so I like to share all these references to determinate if they vibe with them. If everything is okay, then I get to start creating… Sometimes the final product is something that may not be as free as if I got to create a personal piece, because as I told you before, illustration (and design) is just a tool with the specific function of expressing a particular idea, so it should always meet the project needs. But this is just when it is commissioned work. On the other hand, when I create illustrations just with the intention of expressing myself, the process is different. In that case, the thing that starts it all is how I feel at the moment or maybe a particular idea I had at that time. Then I just let my creativity flow listening to music and tweaking my pieces until I’m satisfied with them. This is a more artistic way of using illustration as a tool, and here you can see the main practical difference between art and illustration that I told you before.
Mother of Decay, 2020 Andromeda, 2020
Does being Hispanic influence your art or illustration at all? If so, How? Yes! Totally. I believe that humans are just like little sponges that keep accumulating information that turns into inspiration thanks to diverse inputs and sources. One of them is geography… but also culture! I don’t exactly know how being Salvadoran has affected or influenced the way I create illustrations, but I believe that even the hard that it’s to actually find local influences (because sadly, art and culture has been shadowed by political interests here) has made me explore my creativity taking external sources as a base to build up my visual style and somehow determinate the topics that matter to me. Lately, I’ve found out that just by being an illustrator/artist that happens to be born and raised in this country, represents another challenge for me to navigate and find more about our country history, about our cultural heritage and learn more of how I can incorporate it in the way I create things and their message.
Monja Blanca, 2019
Who/what has inspired you the most in what you do? Ufff! Tough one. Not because I don’t think of anyone but because there are plenty of people that have inspired me and that keep inspiring me today. Maybe local illustrators and colleagues that helped me to easily wrap the concept of illustration in my head. Just to name a few, Sonia Lazo (@sonialazo), Neto Rod (@netorod_), Steve Aparicio (@steve_aparicio), Gabriel Granadino (@granadinosaurio), Miguel Membreño (@miguelmemb) and Natalia Letona (@natalialetona). And as of external influences, I’m really inspired by the work of Ricardo Cavolo (@ricardocavolo), Manjit Thapp (@manjtithapp), Rafael Mayani (@rmayani) and Taryn Knight (@taryndraws). But don’t we forget about musicians! I’ve been so inspired by Latinx musicians lately such as Natalia Lafourcade and Ana Tijoux, but I also enjoy listening to Rihanna, Solange, Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, FKA twigs, Raveena, SEVDALIZA and many, many more!
Lido Pimienta, 2020
Favorite artist? Mmmm can I pass this question? Haha, just kidding. It is so hard! But maybe I will go with Ricardo Cavolo. His work is so cool. He has worked with so many clients and also has developed such a unique and particular art style. He’s literally goals!
Any words of wisdom for young artists? Tips?
Well, just don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun! I know it sounds kinda cliche, but being an illustrator/artist should be fun. And yes, I know there’s bills to pay, but when you are having fun, it shows in your work that you are flexible and thoughtful. Also, you should always be willing to learn new things! Try to push yourself to learn a new skill that helps you find a stable work. Then you can thrive a little bit to create your illustrations in the free time and still have fun with it. And if you think you are capable of sustain yourself by your own, I know life is super hard and freelancing is scary as hell, but if you ever choose that (which is something I’ve already done) still find time to create for you and explore the topics you love. People will notice, trust me. And besides this, I don’t know what else to suggest because I’m still learning to navigate life as well haha!