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Meet Our Flow Illustrator: David Espinosa

It is a tradition at CreativeMornings to work with an artist in our community to create an illustration for our global monthly themes.

Our CreativeMornings monthly themes inspire new conversations and ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t think about. At our events, speakers are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them. After a month, we are excited to see the talks and inspiration that are born out of the theme.

The global theme for October is Flow.

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Given that these monthly illustrations are at events all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.

Meet David Espinosa, a.k.a. El Dee

David Espinosa, also known as El Dee, is a Mexican illustrator. Known for his versatility, he has worked on projects ranging from streetwear brands to editorial projects, and the occasional murals. His latest graphic novel, Nido de Serpientes, won the Tierra Adentro National Graphic Novel Award. He lives in Cholula, Mexico with his wife and dogs. 

How did you get into illustration work and in what ways has your work evolved over time?

My illustration career actually started in high school, making flyers for really bad local bands. But it led me to a career creating artwork for a lot of different types of clients. I think I got into illustration like a lot of other illustrators—I just never stopped drawing! 

Things have evolved a lot since then. Now, I’m more interested in creating more simple and relatable work instead of doing things just for the sake of being cool. 


What were some of the biggest creative influences in your early days? 

In the beginning, my biggest influences were mostly the graphics I saw on record covers, skateboard decks, and on indie comic books like Los Hernandez Bros or Micheal Allread. Later on, I got especially interested in mid-century aesthetics from the likes of Alex Steinweiss and Jim Flora and classic Mexican artists like Jose Guadalupe Posada or Ernesto “Chango” Garcia Cabral. 

Your work ranges from editorial illustrations to streetwear brands. Do you have a similar creative process with each medium or does it vary? 

My process varies a lot because it mostly depends on the client and the aesthetic they’re specifically looking for on each project. And honestly, sometimes it’s just a hunch, the desire to experiment with different types of shapes and see what comes up from it. 


The extent of your poster artwork is impressive! What do you love most about creating illustrations and designing for posters? 

I enjoy the versatility of themes—it’s the thing that always draws me back to creating posters. That, mixed with having a really strong subject (a band, an event or a very specific message) always leads to interesting and bold results.

What’s the creative scene like in your city or region and how has it impacted you? 

I live in a town called Cholula (not related to the hot sauce at all) a couple hours from Mexico City. It’s a small city but it gives me the quiet space I need to create and have less busy ideas. There aren’t a lot of artists around, but the ones that do live here are super talented. It helps me to compare paths with them. And of course, having such an impactful creative hub like Mexico City (just a drive away) is always good for when I need to immerse myself in the super eclectic illustration scene that’s there.


At a glance, you seem to use deep colors, textures, and fluid shapes in your work. How did you incorporate these elements in your interpretation of this month’s theme?

I was born close to the Caribbean Sea… I guess that’s why I gravitated towards interpreting this month’s theme ‘Flow’ in such a literal way. The seas are full of all types of shapes and textures in its inhabitants. It was the perfect excuse to go full-on with so many colors and crazy shapes. I knew that a high contrast background would look really powerful and expressive.

What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?

Not to be a downer, but my oldest dog died last month and I got super sad about that. It made me think deeply again about how I want to live my life. I’m starting with hanging out a lot more with my wife and my other surviving dogs. Time is fleeting.


Do you have any specific projects or efforts you want to focus on this season? What’s one thing you’d like to do more of? 

I’m actually starting to take on less client work to focus on personal projects I’ve been leaving behind. My two favorite things in the world are comic books and graphic novels. I plan to focus way more on trying to build a career on those subjects. So, hopefully that’s something I’ll also start doing more of. 


Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

I started boxing again two days ago and I’m super sore. All my muscles are burning. My hands were shaking while answering this question! (:

A special thanks to David for taking the time to answer all these questions and creating such a beautiful illustration for the global CreativeMornings community!

You can explore more of David Espinosa (a.k.a El Dee)’s work on his website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

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