The enigmatic digital artworks of Barcelona-based artist Adrian Delzel are populated by strange creatures that only come out at night. Looking at his artwork is a little like spotting Bigfoot – the exotic beasts stand frozen and symmetrical in the middle of fantastically detailed psychedelic landscapes.
“My images always have a central theme, normally one that's related to nature and to hidden feelings. Most of the characters have the appearance of animals or mystical creatures,” he explains.
The mysterious nature of his images is intentional: he describes them as an attempt to communicate fleeting and complex feelings that are hard to express in words. He describes his works as “tracings of melancholy and of our roots as animals.”
Inspiration arrives in a complete form for Adrian; he says that when he sketches them in pencil, they always remain precisely as they first occurred to him. “I never retouch or change them: they come out exactly as they are,” he says.
These analogue themes are given an extra layer of mystery through their very digital presentation. He creates an detailed pencil sketch, then scans to trace over in Illustrator, digitally adding a landscape.
This apparent simplicity belies the immense detail that Adrian works in. “The process takes me weeks, in many cases,” he says. “For example, [in Secret Spirit] each of those feathers is made up of four or five layers, each overlaid with transparencies – I'm an obsessive.”
Finally, he creates the lighting effects. “They're little more than clipping masks and gradients, created using gradient meshes, overlaid on the final composition,” he says.
Adrian has long been impressed by vector art. “I remember seeing the work of other [vector] artists and being left speechless – it seemed unattainable.” Having taught himself Illustrator, it's become his key tool. “I don't use any other programs – it seems like a betrayal of vectors,” he explains. “If I start with vectors, I finish with them.”
Despite the elaborate nature of his images, Adrian finds that there's an inherent minimalism to working with Illustrator. “Vectors limit me to showing only what needs to be shown,” he says. “Without them my art wouldn't be the same.”