Mickael “Patiño” Brana is a young freelance illustrator & artist from France. His work is fresh and creative, as he manages to create a colorful, crazy universe filled with quirky monsters and expressive faces.
Although he is new in the business, having just started out this year, his projects vary from packaging design for a wine label, illustrating colored books, t-shirts, designs for a street festival, collaborations with magazines and events. That’s pretty impressive 🙂 On top of that, Patiño also spends some time doing personal work, because he loves what he does and always wants to learn new things.
PS: He also shares his drawing process on his website, every time he posts something new, so make sure you go and see.
You already have a style that I think is easy to spot and recognize. How did you get here?
My style is a mix of elements and influences from different cultures.
It came really naturally, I just drew what I like and my strange characters came to life like this. I have also been influenced by a lot of artists, of course. I think that if you know what you like to see and to draw, your style will come out.
But if you look more at my work you can see kind of different styles. I mean I have some really funny characters (like my animals or monsters) which are influenced mainly by street art, other are weirder and influenced by pre-Colombian art for example. But I also like to draw and paint more expressive human beings, which are influenced by expressionist artists from the last century.
I also work with different techniques like digital, ink, acrylic, pencil, watercolor, etc. So that’s why I prefer to speak about my «universe» rather than my «style».
What do you wish to communicate, through your drawings?
I think that when I’m drawing I just try to communicate my emotions on that moment. For me, drawing is a way to express yourself and let your emotions come out and take life on paper. On my personal projects I don’t really try to express one idea or transmit one message. Instead I prefer to express different ideas, emotions or meanings and let the viewer to interpret them freely. I like it when you can have a kind of mystery on an image, when you can find different meanings…
But when I’m working on a commercial project, I work as a graphic designer. I mean I need to solve a problem and communicate something to a specific target. So according to the aim of the project I communicate different ideas or emotions.
What is the most important aspect, for you, when you draw a new piece? What is the one thing you care about, the most?
If it’s for a personal work, I always want to learn something new. To improve my skills or my universe. It can be a new technique, a new composition, new colors, new characters, new atmosphere, new textures etc.
If it’s for a commercial purpose, the one thing I care about it’s if I communicate the right message and if I’m reaching the right target. And if I can do it right and at the same time learn something new, that’s the perfect project!
Do you ever feel the need to change your drawing style? Do you ever get bored and want to do something different?
Even if I would like to change my style radically I couldn’t do it because my style is who I am and what I can do.
For me it’s very hard to draw in 3 dimensions with perspective or to draw realistic things for example. But I don’t like to do it neither! When I was in art school they told me to draw realistic figures and things like this, but I just didn’t enjoy to draw this, so I was very bad. That’s why I say, if you draw WHAT YOU ENJOY, you will find your style. So I could say that my style comes from my weaknesses!
But as I said I always try to add new stuff into my art. For the moment I don’t get bored because I think I can add so many things into my universe. For example I sometimes try to add some lettering, some organic or vegetal textures, some abstract forms, things like that. And as I also try new techniques or compositions all the time, I can’t get bored, for now.
What inspires you?
So many things! The first thing that inspires me are other artists. But I’m also really inspired by nature, science, books, documentaries, music, philosophy, spirituality, sociology, etc etc.
You mention other artists. Any examples?
Every week I discover new crazy talent illustrators and artists. But to name a few that I really admire: Pat Perry, Michael Sieben, Dulk, Barry McGee, Doze Green, Alexone, Jeanspecial, Niark1, OS Gemeos, Nate Williams, Greg «Craola» Simkins, Interesni kazki, Rebecca Dautremer, Shaun Tan, Bernard Buffet, Goya, Da Vinci, Daumier, JJ Grandville, Jim Flora, Modigliani, Picasso, Dali, Magritte, Bosh, Van Gogh, Klimt, and so many more!
How do you get your ideas for new illustrations? Do you keep a notebook to keep track?
Yeah, I have a sketchbook where I draw and write down some ideas or words that inspire me. I also spend a lot of time looking at other artists’ work from now and from the past. They can give you so many ideas!
You once said in an interview that you mix a lot of characters and influences in the same composition, all while respecting the same unity and coherence.
How do you manage to do that? How do you define this coherence?
Yes, for me to keep a coherent through all my works is very important. To keep a coherent “universe” or main ”style”. Especially for an illustrator it’s the most important thing to have if you want to find work. That’s why even if I try different things I always put crazy monsters, animals or characters.
Also, if the composition and the color is good enough, you can mix different influences into the same image and it’ll work.
When you look back on your work in the past, do you like what you see? Or, do you consider you had many “bad” illustrations, before getting here?
It depends, they are some illustrations I did that I don’t like and others that I like. But I think that the majority of the illustrations I did on the past were quite bad (but I can still like them)! Even if I don’t like an illustration I know it was a good thing to do it because it’s like this that you can learn and improve.
I’m kind of an unsatisfied person, so when I finish an illustration, even if I’m happy with the result, I always think I could do better next time.
Do you draw all your illustrations on paper?
If you mean when I start a new illustration? Yes, I always need to draw manually on paper. I can’t draw directly on the computer without a sketch, even with a Wacom Cintiq.
Do you have any advice for illustrators who can’t decide on their style? Those who always want to try something new and can’t find a style to define them (like myself)?
I’m a young illustrator, so it’s hard for me to give advice… But as I said, I think that when you are an illustrator it’s very important to have a really specific “style” or “universe”. You can try new things all the time but you need to stay coherent and consistent if you want to find work as a freelance illustrator, because art directors need to know what kind of work you will do when they ask you an illustration.
My advice for those who can’t decide is: just know what kind of illustration you like to see, what you have fun to draw and what you can draw, and focus mainly on this. And your style will come naturally because at the end it’s just your personality: who you are, what you like, what your strengths and weaknesses etc.
It’s also important to understand what you draw. It can be useful to write about your work, to try to describe it for example. It helped me understand better what I was drawing.