Juan 'Diaz' Faes
Juan Diaz Faes is a master of creativity. Whether his characters are entwining themselves around text on a page or warping the expression of a neglected chunk of concrete, Juan fuses intricate narrative with simplistic, joyful design to create patterns and pieces that reveal more of themselves with each glance. With a background interest in graphic novels, Juan establishes a sense of narrative in his pieces, whose overpowering sense of artistic identity make them addictive and endlessly alluring.
Juan’s art is vibrant, and abstractly graphic: a kind of artistic fluidity which is bestowed on him through an ability to find tangible inspiration as freely as air. “You can draw inspiration from everything. From the colour palette of a cereal box, to the shape that makes a shadow of a tree on the ground, to an oil stain on the wall. I come from the culture of skateboarding and surfing in the nineties, so all of that undoubtedly influences my work in some way.” The nostalgic simplicity of Juan’s designs, which undoubtedly arouse visions of nineties skate culture, also retain something youthful and fun in their workings. Juan attributes this to a joy for designs stemming from a youth spent immersed in his world of globulous creatures. “Drawing and creating were always things I did as a child. My mother keeps lots of drawings in her house from when I was a child. So, we can say that since childhood I have had a pencil in my hand! I never thought about looking for an identifying style or something that would differentiate me, just every time I drew, or saw works of people that I liked, I tried to do it the way I would like it to be. I always say that if you are honest with yourself, inevitably there will appear your own way to draw and “your style”. A style that refers to your passions, your past, your interests ... after all, your personality.” Juan has worked to a variety of briefs, though spanning across his vast portfolio, hosting an array of different forms, a sense of fun is persistent in Juan’s creations. “I think it's always challenging to be creative when there's a brief. Creativity is more or less the ability to solve problems with certain ingredients; The fewer ingredients, the more creative you have to be to find a good solution. So, when you get a brief, it's always time to be creative, because each brief gives you limited ingredients (public, size, colours, dates ...). This type of work is supposed to be something passionate, and you only do it if you love it. But like everything, when it becomes work, many times you have to do things that you do not want to. I've been fighting for years to keep having fun in my work, so I guess there's a part that comes in my DNA, and another part of conscious exercise to remind myself, that you have to have fun. Lately, I try not to take jobs where I'm not going to have fun.” Juan’s extensive experience in working with a variety of mediums and motions gives him a unique, and concise perspective on adjusting work for briefs. “I try to be aware of WHY I do each job for. It is not the same to make an illustration for the press as a personal work. In press you have to stick to a format, a theme, an audience... In the independent work you do the nonsense that goes through your head without thinking too much about whether it works graphically, whether it is aesthetic or not. I do like to differentiate my work when it is a commission for something specific, and when it is a personal project.”
“If you are honest with yourself, inevitably there will appear your own way to draw.”
The sense of narrative and expansive detail in Juan’s designs hark back to a love for comics and graphic novels. An industry which artists can struggle to find lucrative, but one which Juan is fortunate enough to have penetrated, with his persisting sense of artistic identity. “A few years ago there was a boom in graphic novels, and I had the opportunity to do some. Since I was a child, I always consumed a lot of comics, and narrative is something that interests me a lot, so I took the opportunity. The comic or the graphic novel are areas that allow you to develop very personal and complex projects, but unfortunately (at least in Spain) it is not easy to live exclusively from it. So, for the time it takes to make a graphic novel, I'm more interested in the illustration. Also, I think I'm better at making interesting images than complex narratives.” Juan has self-published an array of books based around his unique fusion of design and narrative, for example, the Encyclopaedia of Poo, or Cromaticaca, which is still available to purchase here.
“Every year I try to self-publish a book. A book that I would like to have in my personal library, but I know it would be difficult for me to be commissioned by a publisher, so I try to think what book I would like to be entrusted to me. In the case of Escacalógico, the idea and the execution was quite fast. I made 150 types of poop, with their shape, their name and their characteristics, and Mar Abad (a writer with whom I usually work a lot) made the texts of each of them. The result is a poop book, which wants to be very elegant haha.”
“I made 150 types of poop”
It’s easy to glance at the clean lines, and complex graphic layouts of Juan’s designs and categorise him as a vector-artist, existing only in the digital space. However, Juan also brings him immaculate creations into the third dimension with enigmatic street art, and even sculpture. “I am very comfortable in the digital section. I'm very impatient and I like to see how the drawing is going to work (haha, that's why in analogue I use few colours) so the digital one helps me a lot to understand and see the final result. However, there is no doubt that the analogue has a special charm and everything that can be felt, or seen close up has more interesting readings. I even use digital as an initial idea, and then develop it in analogue.”
“analogue has a special charm and everything that can be felt, or seen close up has more interesting readings”
Juan hasn’t left his natural ability to design distinctive and aesthetic pieces to stagnate for a moment. After following his artistic education to its limits, and even lecturing at university, Juan is undergoing a PhD in Applied Creativity, whereby he attempts to understand the very fabric of creativity itself. “I was interested in studying the creative process when I finished my Fine Arts career. I realized that I did not know very well why we were doing things, or where all those ideas came from. And at that time, I wanted to study something more "theoretical" than "practical" so that's why I started my PhD in Creativity. Of course, it not only helped me to know a little more about the subject, but also to apply myself when I have to face some problems of creative scope.” Juan’s work alone casts such a sense of creative assurance and technical excellence that it sits well to know that he also teaches in universities, as well as doing independent workshops and lessons. “Creativity is a way of thinking like any other. It is a skill that we all have, some more developed, and others less developed. But just like learning a language, or playing an instrument, creativity can be trained to improve it, so with some tricks and daily exercises, we can develop it. And therefore, it can be taught, and learned, even if it is something abstract and complex.”
“just like learning a language, or playing an instrument, creativity can be trained to improve it”
Juan’s work can be experienced through social media, where you can begin to gain a real sense of the scope of creativity and work which this creator offers. Being based in Spain, the majority of publications featuring Juan’s work do implore an unshakable use of the Spanish language, so, if your Rosetta Stone budget is sub-par, you could just purchase a Juan Diaz-Faes piece from Moosey Art.