Gustavo Arteaga: interview with a freelance illustrator & Surface artist

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    Jun 27, 2006
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    A few years ago I met Gustavo Arteaga during the Transformation Challenge. The event was drawn together between Microsoft Surface and Vice. We have been keeping in touch and Gustavo has been learning, growing, and developing his skills a lot since graduating from art school. We wanted to catch you up on what he has been doing and share his experience with Surface. Gustavo is super talented and we are thrilled that Surface is part of the toolkit he uses to express his ideas. He is also in the middle of that a-little-bit scary time right after finishing art school. Completing a formal art education and then making the transition to the life of a freelance artist isn’t without challenges. It is great to be a part of Gustavo’s journey as an artist, seeing his style and work evolve, and of course we love talking to him about the things he is working on. Let’s jump right into our interview:


    Markus: Gustavo, why don’t we start this interview with a brief introduction about yourself.

    Gustavo: Well, I’m from Venezuela, but I’ve been living in Spain for a little over 8 years. It is here that I choose the path of an artist and illustrator – I think maybe it was being surrounded by so much artistic influence. You and I met in Hawaii, when I was still in school. Since then I have finished school and I am proud to say that I am now a Freelance Illustrator.

    Markus: Hawaii! That was a really awesome project. We got to work with Jasper Wong. Was that your first experience with Surface?

    Gustavo: It was and it could not have happened any better. I was in Hawaii, with the amazing Jasper Wong. We worked on an illustration together while driving all around the island. I learned a lot of tips from Jasper on that project. For so long I was used to using Intuos Tablets, but with Surface I started drawing directly on the screen. It was a surprise how much more natural it was. Caught me off-guard, but during that trip I got a hang of it and now I can’t let it go.


    Markus: We actually have a picture from that day that we can share with our readers – the two of you working on the Surface. I think this was taking on the North Shore of Oahu.


    Markus: You have been using Surface for a couple years now. What do you like most about your Surface?

    Gustavo: Aside from being able to run all the applications I need – I feel like I’m making magic. Using both the keyboard and pen: I twist, erase and draw so quick. It feels so easy. Working directly on the screen in Photoshop you don’t think about it, you just do it.

    I’m used to taking the train to Barcelona. It’s almost an hour sitting on the train every morning and evening. This is time I spend drawing on my Surface. It goes with me anywhere I go.

    Markus: Let’s talk a little bit more about what you do. What are the applications that you use for your illustrations?

    Gustavo: I mostly use Adobe Photoshop. I like that I can create artwork that looks almost like a picture – the textures and all the different brushes. I like that I can make my own or use brushes created and shared by other artists. Right now I am also starting to use Adobe Illustrator more and more. I like how clean and simple it lets you express your ideas. Working in vectors help me translate my ideas the perfect way. Purely by curiosity I’m beginning to use some 3D software too. There Is a lot more for me to learn and practice.

    Markus: Where did you go to school? What did you study?

    Gustavo: I studied at the Art and Design School Llotja. The school was founded by the Junta de Comerç de Barcelona in 1775 under the name Escola gratuïta de disseny as a training center for applied art. I studied Illustration there for 3 years.

    Markus: So you have graduated and you are embarking on a Freelance Illustrator career. How are things going? You’ve had some great opportunities already – what would you say to other young artists getting started?

    Gustavo: (Laughs). Slow but they are moving forward. I have been doing commission work to keep myself occupied. I am optimistic about the future! To another young artist, I would say – pursue it if it’s what makes you happy, work hard on it, even if sometimes it feels like a long shot or a process that might feel too slow, the best things in life make you wait for them.

    Markus: Who are the artists that you admire and that inspire you? Maybe this is just a name and then a picture?

    Gustavo: There are four artists that inspire me daily:

    Alphonse Mucha:​


    Peter de Sêve:​


    Noah Bradley:​


    Ross Tran:​



    Markus: I bet you have a favorite personal side project going on. Tell us about it!

    Gustavo: I have several – I am always working on something. Right now I have these two floating around:

    The first one is Somnus: The Lost Memories. I really love this story. I’m so proud of it. It might be a little too ambitious for my own sake. Since it is an animation, it takes a lot of work. Especially being just one person making it – it is my own titanic endeavor to make this a reality.

    So far I have developed the story boards and made a quick teaser trailer. The entire trailer and project is coming to life on my Surface using Adobe Photoshop.

    The second project is something that came to me from a song. I am always listening to music while working – sometimes new ideas will just pop into my head and I try and capture them right away. This one is about Titans and Guardians – the project is currently on Patreon. I am still working on the story and starting the writing process, but I am hoping this will become an illustrated book.


    From left to right: “Curious Titan”, “Fight Me Now” and “Guardian” are some of my early illustrations for this project.

    So that’s it for our interview with Gustavo. We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about his work, his passion projects, and how Surface helps him do great things. We are always looking to learn more about the people creating amazing works with Surface. If you would like to share one of your creations with us just use #SurfaceArt.

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