If you’ve been on the web in the past few months, and frequent design sites like Inspired, or social sites like Digg or Reddit, you’ve probably seen Andres Romero’s (aka Blo0p) recent work.
He’s a young, talented, and we’d venture to say master illustrator – capable of taking simple ideas and objects and converting them into gorgeous vectors and illustrations.
But, his recent work – and the work that has “exploded” online – is of the opposite kind.
His latest fame is the result of taking a complex object and making it simple. Andres took all of the most recognizable and iconic superheroes and supervillains and distilled them into their base properties (and gave them names with a twist).
Here’s a sample of the work (original IMGUR gallery):
As a comic book (and video game) fan myself these drew me to Blo0p’s other works online, and after studying up on his work to date (which is a nice way to say – virtually stalking him – I contacted Andres).
The original series, now seen by about 10,000,000 people throughout the world, has been featured on all of the top social media websites and garnered Andres recognition and job opportunities.
I contacted Andres as soon as I saw the series, and it turns out he lives just across the State – in Miami. Andres and I had the opportunity to sit down, discuss his work, his process, and his plans for the future. We’re going to start this by flipping the interview order on its head… let’s start with Andres..
Andres: Alright, should I be intimidated?
Zach (Inspired): Yes, very frightened. Just kidding, it’s all good, there’s nothing to fear or be intimidated about. Let’s start with your background… please tell Inspired readers about yourself.
Andres: Well my name is Andres Romero, I’m 21. I’ve been working full time at the college of nursing as FIU’s web designer since I graduated from high school. I spend my spare time illustrating on personal and commissioned projects. I’m currently trying to studying fine arts, but not fully enrolled at FIU yet.
Zach (Inspired): Rapid fire question time… Where did you get the name blo0p? How did you get into the world of web design or graphic design/illustration? What kind of things do you work on day-to-day?
Andres: To answer your question about the name.. I wanted a simple name that was easy to remember. Also I like robots so its a play off of “bleep bloop.” Heh, I actually began picking up computer and graphic design through Neopets. I had to learn html and CSS in order to build my guild’s homepage. I was in 5th grade.
Zach (Inspired): Ha! That’s awesome (at this time I had to go and look up NeoPets).
Andres: After that I began tinkering with photoshop and by the time I started highschool I was making full websites for local (Miami) businesses.
Zach (Inspired): It’s perfect that you mentioned your hometown (Miami). I was curious about the city, and think our users might want to know more about Miami. Having been there many times myself and seeing the artistic/design culture, do you feel the city of Miami is a good place for designers and cultivates creativity?
Andres: That all depends on whether you speak spanish or not, there’s a fairly large untapped market here for Spanish speakers but if you don’t… the few agencies located in miami don’t hire too often.
Thankfully I do speak spanish!
For jobs relating to this market, I’d say it’s as good as, or better than many places, but for jobs in the advertising/agency business some bigger and more well known places like New York might be a better place to look.
Zach (Inspired): Moving on to the designs that inspired this post – where did you come up with the idea for the designs? If I recall, you had a few originally posted and then you added to them correct?
Andres: It all started with one of my friends who wanted a captain america poster for his dorm room. I posted that on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. The traffic and exposure snowballed and I ended up doing 20 or so “initial” characters. http://imgur.com/a/TYfWa#60
I then shared this initial set on Reddit. Everyone… (well most people) on Reddit were nice, and they gave me constructive feedback and soon my set grew from the initial 20 to 40 to 130 (where it is now).
As for my own inspiration goes, I had seen a few “minimalist superhero” posts before on Reddit and loved (and wanted to mimic the style):
Zach (Inspired): Ohh wow! That’s quite a lot of characters. How long does each piece take and what program(s) are you using to create them?
Andres: The time it takes me is completely dependent on the hero, some heroes are very simplistic in nature and would take me 15 minutes. Others would frustrate me and I’d spend an hour or two tweaking the vector lines until I was pleased with the result.
I used Illustrator and Photoshop for these.
Zach (Inspired): How people have seen the designs to date?
Andres: It’s hard to get a complete number, they’ve been posted all over after initially releasing them on Reddit and Deviant, but in total I would estimate it’s close to 10,000,000 total views.
Zach (Inspired): Going back to Reddit (because who doesn’t like reading Reddit on the toilet until your legs fall asleep!)… I originally found your stuff on Reddit, can you go into more detail about the response on reddit – was there any other social media site (or site in general) that had a “snowball” effect as you previously mentioned – leading to a lot of traction?
Andres: The response was overwhelmingly positive. I expected much more “hate” from everyone but I only managed to read 4 or 5 negative comments in the entire thread. I think the fact that I pulled through and handled the majority of the requests from the first post is what made everyone so pleased with my post.
Zach (Inspired): Very nice, people on reddit can be nasty (and overwhelmingly nice)! (Damn Karma – we’re all after it…).
Who’s your favorite superhero (and villain)?
Andres: Iron man is my favorite superhero, particularly the fact that he isn’t actually “super.”
Zach (Inspired): (and he’s a drunk)
Andres: Haha that too. Iron man doesn’t have any villains that come to mind particularly.. but outside of iron man my favorite villain is probably Harley Quinn, I’ve always liked that character’s design and personality.
Zach (Inspired): Very cool. Are there any design tips, things you do to get the creative process flowing, or advice for other aspiring designers?
Andres: Your “work” area is important – even if it’s simply psychological. For example, I tend to work better from my actual office, even though my personal computer is 10 times better than the one in my office. Just the thought that I’m at my office to get work done allows me to be distracted far less.
Also a sketchbook, I sketch all of my designs before I actually go ahead and use illustrator. This is also a crude backup, if I ever lose the file I can simply retrace the original drawing. A sketchbook is far less likely to get stolen.
Zach (Inspired): Very true. I used to do the same thing when I would do more designs. Finally, is there anything you’d like to add?
Andres: If anyone out there is interested they can look to both my Tumblr & Deviant accounts for future work updates:
To celebrate the launch of a new Inspired-Connected site, as well as the interview with Andres, we’ve commissioned the printing of one of his most prized illustrations and are giving it away to one lucky subscriber…