Sometimes we are lucky enough to discover a young, passionate person who loves his work and makes us love it too. In his artworks, Londoner artist and illustrator Joe Cruz combines and mixes – in such a perfect way – black and white photos with very colourful lines and lively figures. The final result? Surreal and brilliant posters that totally change our mood. Love at first sight!
How do you define yourself? As an artist? An illustrator? Is there any difference for you?
An artist. No, not massively, an artist is a broader term, which I prefer.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to become an artist?
Yes, I always loved drawing and always wanted to make pictures for a living.
How did you decide to start your own brand? Tell us about your beginnings.
When I was a child, my nan owned a factory in north London and made clothes for the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Aquascutum, so I was always keen to create my own label or fashion brand. When I left university I designed my own collection of scarves; this developed, and I focused on promoting my artwork and myself as multi-disciplined brand.
You have collaborated with Whistles on a two-piece collection – a crew neck t-shirt and a blue sweatshirt – right? What could you tell us about that? How did you enjoy the experience?
It was a very enjoyable experience, they were great to work for and gave me free reign with the artwork. The imagery is of the Barbican, we discussed the concept and thought it would make for strong visuals, contrasting the brutalist iconic architecture, with my colourful mark making.
You usually pick black and white photos and make your art with very colourful lines and full of lively figures that completely change the mood of the photo – from a classy and grey mood to a happy and fun one. What do you want to transmit with your artworks?
I want a reaction. I love making work, researching, discovering new methods and processes and constantly pushing my own practise.
Why did you choose these colourful techniques?
Constant experimentation and research.
How do you see the illustration scene today? Do you consider it’s difficult for an illustrator to make a living with his art?
Definitely, to be an artist/illustrator is extremely hard, and there is no career path to follow. I think you need to be very committed to your work, plus have a business brain, think about yourself as a brand and forge your own path in the art world.
Personally, I’m totally in love with your Audrey Tatou piece. What would you say is the artwork you liked the most? Or the one you feel more proud of?
Every time I do a new piece that hits I think this is it. I think as the weeks pass, I feel less and less infused, I suppose the ones that have held up over time are my strongest and probably the ones I am most proud of, which would be the Pastel Portrait and Jazz series.
What is your day to day like?
Breakfast, shower, emails.
Work, play, explore.
Work, play, explore.
Work, play, explore.
How do you see your future in five years?
Pushing to showcase my work to a wider audience, taking on more challenging projects and hopefully some exciting commissions.