The Courage to Follow a Dream
Changing professions takes courage, hard work, and a little bit of luck, as Lisbon-based illustrator Tiago Galo knows very well: a few years ago, he took a leap of faith and turned a hobby into a successful career.
Working as an architect but still harboring a life-long dream to be an illustrator or comic book artist, Galo entered a major comic book competition in Portugal—and won.
A Nod to the Cubists, with a Little Humor
Galo’s style is simple and colorful—featuring geometric shapes and exaggerated proportions.
A four-part mural he created for the Estau 2018 street art festival is a good example of Galo’s distinctive style. Each section illustrates an ancestral craft of Portugal’s Estarreja region.
He enjoys projects that enable him to show an ironic and often humorous side, too—such as illustrating a book by Portuguese radio personality Inês Meneses.
“It´s a series of illustrations set in between short, funny sentences,” Galo explains. “The book is divided between possible and impossible love situations—and it was a really fun project because of the book’s witty mood.”
The exaggerated proportions typical of Galo’s work are something he admires in the work of the early Cubists.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the way they represented the human figure, and I wanted to explore that in my illustrations,” he says.
Galo also wanted to try to replicate the Cubists’ use of limited color palettes.
“They typically limited themselves to just three or four colors, so I wanted to challenge myself to do that, too,” he says.
Even in the short time Galo has been illustrating, he sees an evolution in his style.
“The characters, the geometry, and the colors are different today—simpler and cleaner,” he says. “I think it´s been a labor of subtracting rather than adding things.”
Tools of the Trade
Galo always works on a hand sketch before moving to the computer. He usually scans the sketches and uses them as reference, even though he does a lot of experimentation while on a digital interface before starting to draw the final composition.
“I think it´s important to experiment with different kinds of software and explore the assets within each one—like brushes, textures, or tools,” he says. “Sometimes, a new brush you discover or customize can be a game-changer. Experimentation is the key, so don´t settle for what is common or standard.”
He takes time to conceptualize a project before beginning to draw.
“After getting an idea or a client assignment, I actually try to stay away from the sketchbook and computer until everything’s clear in my head,” he says. “It´s important to my work process to live with the brief for a while without giving it too much thought—to wait until a concept develops. Only then do I start sketching.”
Illustration is popular because of its applicability to so many fields, Galo believes.
And speaking of something different: Galo is ready to explore another dream.
I love what I´m doing right now and want to continue doing it,” he says. “Nevertheless, I want to explore sculpting. I recently bought a 3D printer, and I´m into molding and ceramics. Let´s see what these bring!”