How did you first start doing art?
It all started when I worked as a graphic designer in an advertising agency in Brazil, in 2010. Working with packaging design and branding I discovered my passion for vectors and geometric shapes. I have a degree in advertising and always loved working with branding and the challenge of telling the story of a brand with a brand mark. Since I was a kid I always loved drawing, and my house was full of crayons and paper all over the floor. I guess I always loved telling stories through drawing, either digitally, or by hand.
Your specialty is working with intricate compositions, clear cut shapes, and bold colors. How did you first start doing that and what does it mean to you?
10 years ago, while in advertising, I started illustrating on my spare time. I decided then to create a website just to gather all my creations. I initially had no intention to seek commissioned work. It was when a magazine contacted me to illustrate for an article about 24 Hours in Vietnam. It was my first commissioned work. Since then, I never stopped.
How do you visualize the art that you create?
I see my creations as an ‘organised chaos’ in which I try to send a message or provoke a sentiment. I like to create eye-catching compositions, that make people stop scrolling for a second on their phones and think ‘oh, that’s cool’, and then take their time to analyze the artwork, check the details, get the message.
4. So you’ve done work for Google, The Oscars. Been featured on Wired, The Economist. How was the experience working with these big names and what work did you do for them?
It’s always exciting to work with big names. Of course, you always think ‘that will look great on my portfolio’, but the coolest is being able to work with these companies because they have a vision, they are, they give you the freedom to create. They believe in you. Having the freedom to create is excellent.
5. What are some of the challenges you face as an artist, and how do you get around them?
When you’re a freelancer artist you often worry about having work constantly. You worry about the bills, the stability. There’s also sometimes the intricate and technical briefs, they sometimes can be a bit frustrating, when you don’t have much freedom to create and have to stick too much to an idea or to brand guidelines. But in general, it’s great, it’s liberating to send a message through a specific aesthetic.
6. What motivates you as an artist?
Making people think. To create a design with meaning, not merely decorative. If you’re able to cause grab attention and provoke a reaction, your work already makes sense. It’s worth it.
7. How valuable has Instagram been to you in spreading your art and building your network?
Instagram is great, not only to spread your creations but to get to know people and what’s happening around. Building your network is so much easier these days, it’s instant, it’s quick. You talk to brands through a direct message and get feedback straight away. It’s an excellent tool.
8. What does a typical day in the life of Fernando Volken look like?
I also work as a graphic designer, so my day is quite busy. I wake up early, around 6:30-7am and go for a run or hit the gym for about an hour. Then I shower and get ready for work. I work 9-5 in a branding agency and when I get home usually I illustrate for a couple of hours after dinner. Sometimes I go to the cinema, meet friends, or just stay in and read or watch tv. I try not to sleep too late as I changed from a night owl to an early bird in the past years. I also love my weekends, when I can work on my own illustrations and exercise a lot, or go to an art exhibition or travel somewhere.