Draw like hell! And other advice and insights from illustrator Enisaurus
Based in Valencia, Santiago Usano Martínez (AKA Enisaurus) is an illustrator with a striking style of his own. Here he shares some insights and advice that have helped guide his career to date.
Hello! I’m Enisaurus, a freelance professional illustrator, currently living and working from the sunny lands of Valencia, Spain. My journey, in a nutshell, began when I finished the graphic design EASD at the Graphic Design School of Valencia. After that I opened my own studio called Voltio, with two good friends. We spent 5 years together, and moved to London, and learnt a lot about the creative industries and business. But we found the we were looking for different things. It was a hard decision, but it was the right one for us all. At that precise moment I started working for a big agency. (My first time in the role of a paid illustrator, working for others instead of myself. A bad call ultimately, taken out of necessity).
I spent eleven months there working for big clients like Google, Rovio and XBOX. The thing is that, even developing projects for such a huge brands and earning a good amount of money, I knew it wasn’t for me. It soon got to the point where couldn’t handle another day! It was making me go bananas! I felt like I wasn’t following my own dreams. I was helping third parties achieve their goals, instead of concentrating on my own. Helping them fill their pockets and taking advantage of my creativity. So I found myself in London, one of the most expensive cities of Europe, with no savings in my bank account. Yet committed to starting an exciting, personal freelance adventure, full of hope and enthusiasm.
After two and a half years in Britain I cam back to my roots, to my family and friends in Valencia, my home. London was hugely inspirational for me. The ability to just walk for a while through its streets was enough to fill up my imagination; charge my batteries and come back to the apartment excited to throw my ideas onto paper.
Being honest, Valencia doesn’t have that magic. There isn’t that daily explosion of art or inspiration round every corner. It has a different feeling. I find that it’s given me a better quality of life. It’s more peaceful, less stressful. Everything is easier here, without forgetting the Sun, here the Sun exists. Valencia is also a place filled with plenty of great international illustrators. The only thing is, we need more illustration events to share our knowledge and network with a beer in hand. (Or maybe there are and I haven’t realised it! I spend too much time in my illustrator’s cave.)
Not so long ago I was kind of obsessed with the style quest that every illustrator has at some point. The process to become a “professional” and make a living out of it. I loved drawing but I wasn’t interested in it as a hobby. I wasn’t an amateur anymore, but I needed to make good money from it. Well, this is a pretty common mistake, focusing on style development as the main goal. Rather than bringing any clarity, it will be frustrating and make you restless. The best thing you can do is just work, and work hard every day. I know sometimes it’s not easy, and you will have tons of creative blocks, looking for an easy escape, but you don’t want to take that way. Believe me, your own voice and identity will emerge bit by bit, slowly but steadily. Just draw like hell!
…it’s a pretty common mistake, focusing on style development as the main goal. Rather than bringing any clarity, it will be frustrating and make you restless.
Not every day is work, work work. I have a pretty big list of non-illustration related pleasures! Haha! I think every creative person has to combine the hard work with other fun and enjoyable activities. It’s what gives your brain some fresh air, and perspective. It will give you back many benefits in return to apply to your work. The creative who gets obsessed with his/her work and doesn’t do anything else, has to be prepare for an unstoppable burnout, I can guarantee you that.
Me? I Love climbing, riding, weightlifting, trekking, nature, traveling, cooking, movies, oh, and of course, Netflix. I also love reading, currently most of the time non-fiction books. Some of my favourites include ‘HellBoy’ (the whole collection) by Mike Mignola, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, by Stephen R. Covey, ‘The Alchemist’, by Paulo Coelho, ‘Blindness’ by José Saramago, and ‘The Power of Habit’, by Charles Duhigg.
I never discount the idea of one day moving to a co-working space, maybe with a friend. I like the idea of something more private. But until then I’m content working from home. I have my studio in a separate room. For me its very important to keep life and work separate from each other. I live close to the biggest park in the city, in a quiet side street. I love taking some deep breaths from my balcony, with a coffee and a book, enjoying the warmth of Valencian air.
As you can see below, I have the workspace divided into two stations. One for the computer, where I work on all the more managerial stuff, writing, researching, etc. And to the right side, is where my Cintiq waits for me every day. I’ve always loved testing new tools and materials, but a couple years ago I fully embraced the fact that I’m an Illustrator and a Photoshop guy, digital all the time. That said I’ve recently tried drawing more often on paper too. That way I’m able to be more mobile, and change up my place of work. The Cintiq is too heavy to be moved at all! I guess I can always can get an iPad Pro…haha!
I’ve just finished a project for a fight-wear apparel, and an illustration to be applied on a rush guard. I’m now currently working on two different projects that I can’t tell too much about. What I can say is that one is related to branding and the another is for a new website about video entertainment from USA. (Most of my clients seem to be from the US).
A couple of weeks ago I also started developing a side project called Wizardly Animals. Six animal illustrations with lettering, with different mystery messages. I’m so happy with it. Actually, Behance featured it on their main site which was exciting. I got amazing feedback from thousands of people around the world. One of the most important goals this year it is to become represented by a great agency. I really feel ready to raise my career up to the next level, reach bigger clients with even bigger projects.