Stylised and elegant, with a muted – almost sombre – colour palette, Gary Fernandez's images are digital art at its sharpest. The Spanish artist moved from graphic design in fashion magazines into illustration, where he has provided imagery for high-profile ad campaigns, as well as showing his work in exhibitions worldwide.
This sharpness is what draws him to vectors, he says: “I like the cleanness of line that vectors give you.” Although his figures are often set against almost blank backdrops – with only a gradient for context, they're usually surrounded by intensely detailed elements – whether they're snowflakes or surreal dripping lamps.
When you work in this much detail vectors have another advantage. “I also like the ability to work on details to the maximum [size], which is only possible working with vectors,” he says.
The same principle works at the other end of the scale: vectors can be scaled infinitely. For artists like Fernandez, whose work sometimes appears on billboards, that's a big relief.
Working like this also makes it easy for him to experiment, playing around with colour schemes and placement of elements. However, for Gary – as for all the artists we spoke to – creativity doesn't begin on a screen.
“My first stage is with pencil and paper: I draw most of the elements, the first sketches, and the idea of the composition,” he explains. “Then I keep working up each of the elements until I achieve a detail and a form that I like.
“Then comes the vector stage, which is when I trace all the drawings, develop the composition and work up the details,” he says, explaining that he works on each of the elements individually before arranging them in the final composition. Next he adds colour, limiting his palette to the bare minimum, just enough to highlight the monochromatic pieces.
“The final stage is Photoshop, where I clean up the image, retouch the colours, polish imperfection, and give the final touches to the composition,” he says.
It's a simple but detailed process – Gary says that in terms of tools he uses little more than “Knife, Scissors, Eraser and above all Command + Z. His results are slick but what shines through more than the technical work is the imagination, hovering in a circus-like space somewhere between Disney and Dali.