Antonio Ladrillo, Graphic Artist

In the googly-eyed character world created by Barcelona-based graphic artist Antonio Ladrillo, you might see shades of Cartman, or maybe the Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. But though the 36-year-old Alicante-born artist counts among his influences graffiti, contemporary art, and illustrators like Olle Eksell, David Shrigley, and Bruno Munari, the one thing he returns to over and over again is Super Mario Brothers, the NES videogame created in 1985 by Japanese artist Shigeru Miyamoto. “It’s fascinated me for years, but I only started to value it as something artistic when I was older,” says Ladrillo. “It perfectly combines my main interests: rhythm, color, shape, and space. I often go to it as a way to find some aesthetic pleasure.” It should come as no surprise then to anyone familiar with Ladrillo’s drawings that, like a videogame artist, he can’t help but constantly imagine his characters in motion. “So much so, that for a time I couldn’t draw anything that wasn’t moving because it looked unfinished to me,” he says. It was a phase that begat a wonderfully odd array of animated gifs, like this one.

Ladrillo’s characters are often rendered as simple, colorful marker drawings, with globular heads and gangly legs, but each has a personality and a liveliness all its own, whether it’s a packet of McDonald’s French fries captured in mid-sprint or a family of Christmas trees outfitted in winter gear like scarves and ice skates. Though much of his graphic-design work comes by commission — Ladrillo worked for three years developing an identity for Hoss, an electronic music club in Valencia — his drawings are usually self-generated, which is perhaps what gives them the giddy weirdness of someone working with absolute freedom. “I feel the need to do something that no one has asked of me and probably never will,” he says. “It’s important to keep the balance. Besides, a lot of times, my drawings are merely process. I could be following one idea and another absolutely different one comes without my having planned it.”

And so absolute freedom is exactly what we offered Ladrillo when we asked him to create a series of original drawings for Sight Unseen, depicting one day in his life. The results reveal as much about his process and his personality as they do about his everyday routines.



Black Markers: "My tools change all the time. I could be painting with acrylic or working on my Wacom tablet, but I usually have some black marker with me — Posca, Sharpie, Pentel — to improvise with in my dead time. These are the markers I've been using lately, and on them I have drawn some of the characters starring in this story: one orange, a gym towel, a dog, Maite (my girlfriend), and me."


Going for a Walk to the Park: "It's orange season in now, and there are some orange trees in the Palau Robert garden, which I pass on my way to the studio."


Looking at My Drawings: "In this image, I am looking at my drawings for a new project I've been working on these last few days. They're sketches for a silkscreened print for the Tic Toc Pop-Up Shop in London, which was put on last week by Hato Press and the art collective Efdeay."


Coffee: "Midmorning, I stop working, take a coffee, and read quietly at La Pubilla, next to my studio. In this image, I've been drawing some ideas on a napkin, and I'm reading the complete works of Epicuro."


Drawing: "I come back to my studio to work for the rest of the afternoon."


Ping-Pong: "I go to play Ping-Pong with my friends. We usually go to any of the public Ping-Pong tables you can find here in Barcelona."


Taking a Shower: "After Ping-Pong, I go to the gym DiR to do some more exercise and then I take a sauna and a shower."


Subway: "I take the metro to go downtown. I usually go on foot or by subway. These are moments for peace and thoughts for me."


Printing Works: "I go to the print shop Gráficas Oliveras to see how they’ve finished my last work. On this day, I picked up cards I designed for my friend Lucía, who runs a jewelry line called Après Ski. It’s a small and familiar printing works where I feel really comfortable."


Bookshop: "I go to La Central, my favorite bookshop in Barcelona. They have three shops, but this is the one I like the most. It's the biggest, and they have a better selection. Here I can see the new arrivals on design, illustration, narrative, philosophy…"


Maite: "Then I pick up Maite at the MACBA art museum, where she works, and we go for a walk towards home."