Q&A: Alberto Cerriteño

Computer Arts talks to Alberto Cerriteño a Mexican illustrator and designer based in Portland, Oregon, who has a distinctive character illustration style that draws on the influences of his native land.

Computer Arts: Can you tell us a bit about your career?

AC: I moved from Mexico City in May 2005 and was hired by Curiosity Group, a creative marketing agency in Portland, Oregon, where I'm now a senior art director. I got several job offers because I'd made a portfolio showcasing my skills and had been mentioned on some worldwide design community portals. The art community is strong here and that inspires everyone who wants to create artwork. Maybe one day I'll go back. I miss the culture, and the tacos!

CA: How does Mexican culture influence your illustration work?

AC: It's not technically a Mexican style in terms of aesthetics, but it is thematically and contextually. In the near future I'm planning to create some pieces directly related to my origins. I like subtle and unsaturated colour palettes, which is the opposite of typical Mexican art, but I use a diversity of textures and floral patterns - elements always present in traditional Mexican art.

CA: Your website is divided between design work and illustration. Is your illustration just for pleasure and your design for commercial purposes?

AC: All my life I've been amazed by the illustration world and I'm doing more artwork for pleasure and trying to find time to work in my own art style. I'd love to sell my work, and hope to in the future. I'm still doing design because it gives me the opportunity to explore new ways of creating visuals and communicating messages. I believe that design and illustration complement each other.

CA: How do you combine traditional elements with digital media?

AC: Painting and fine art provide richness and a feeling that I like - and results that are impossible to create from scratch on the computer. But working with Photoshop and Illustrator daily gives me tools and resources to explore. I think you should use any media if the results are worth it. Lately, I've been experimenting with adding texture to my paintings digitally. I create a base by hand using watercolours for the tones and archival black ink for the line work. I then scan the piece, keeping the texture of the paper, and manipulate the image, adding material textures from digitised pictures mixed up with Photoshop filters.

CA: Who or what influences you?

AC: Many lowbrow artists and contemporary surrealists. I admire people such as Jeff Soto, Mark Ryden and Camille Rose Garcia. My work is currently focused on character design. A big influence on this are designers on cartoon shows, such as Genndy Tartakovsky or Craig McCracken. They create amazing characters with personalities I want in my work.

INFO Check out Alberto Cerriteo's personal work at www.albertocerriteno.com and find out more about his work for Curiosity Group at www.curiositygroup.com.