5 June 2020

Meet the Artists – Jesús Sotés

Posted in: Artists, Design, Editorial, Food, Illustration, Meet the artist, Packaging, Painting, Publishing

Jesús Sotés describes his process as “basically finding a diamond in the rock.” There is an attractive quality that must be extracted, through work, accident and constant review until it can be gleamed in his final illustrations — the dream-like imagery, the gritty texture that gives colour definition, the off kilter characters — so much of Jesús’s work comes from a place that few other’s would trust or be willing to explore, the subconscious.

Through Jesús’s mining, he hits upon relatable but not always recognisable images that reference nature, myth and folk traditions, settling into an uncanny sweet spot that a viewer can’t look away from. They are unconventional, attractive images that surprise and excite, helping reinvigorate clients like British Airways, Pepsi China and The Guardian. In keeping with the folk stylings that he draws upon, it is impressive how Jesús creates his distinctive work with such confidence, drawing upon his own experiences and interpretation of the world as a self taught artist.

“Enjoy it, if you have the courage!”

We spoke to Jesús about the subconscious (if that wasn’t already clear), his essential albums and Pinocchio…

Where do you live?

I’m currently living in Pamplona, a small town in the north of Spain with a lot of green zones, where the air is clear and we’re still are able to hear the singing of birds.

Where is your studio located? 

It is in my home.

Can you describe your creative process?

I will try to as best I can, which may be difficult.

For commercial projects I work digitally, but I find the sketching and ideas phase impossible to do using just a mouse and computer. My sketches are still pretty far away from the final artworks, which can be difficult as I fell I need to be able to show the client an idea of the final artwork. I would describe it as “making good on what I have already done badly.” I’m basically finding a diamond in the rock. It is very prosaic, hard work which might go unnoticed; it’s a constant process of review, repeat, review, repeat rather than pure inspiration. It’s like Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but you have to find it working.”

What does a typical working day look like?

It depends on whether I have any commissions on or not. If not, I work in my sketchbooks; where an artist can build their own language. This is essential to me. I work best early in the morning so I’ll review the work I’ve made the day before, and see what works and doesn’t with a fresh eye. I’ll also check my and respond to any e-mails I’ve recieved.

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

Almost always. My playlist is pretty varied; Mexican Corridos, Punk rock, Ambient, Electronic… I move between very hard music and very melodic. Here’s a list of ten records I think are indispensable;

  • Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
  • Anthology – Janis Joplin
  • The Times, They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
  • Transformer – Lou Reed
  • Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – David Bowie
  • Closer – Joy Division
  • The Ramones – The Ramones
  • Raw Power – Iggy & the Stooges
  • Horses – Patti Smith
  • Marquee Moon – Television

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

6 years I believe.

What drew you to Artworks?

I believe in relationships of goodwill and trust. The Artworks is a small agency and I think that it is easier to have that trust.

What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?

Yeah! Everything you watch during your childhood makes an indelible mark on you.

There is one thing that trumps everything, a very dark film about Pinocchio, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” directed by Luigi Comencini. It shocked me a lot.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?

Maybe something related with animals. I love them. I would also love to be an astronaut, it sounds more cooler but… less realistic.

What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!

I didn’t go.

What inspires you the most to create?

I really think that the subconscious world is essential when creating art, it is from there where we extract our primal inspiration. We tend to think we get inspiration from outside, and yes, we do, but we see everything through the filter of our subconscious… we really see what we really are. I think we find outside what we have inside. So, in this theory, inspiration would be the confirmation what we are. 

Name three artists that you admire.

Velázquez, Velázquez, Velázquez.

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

I would say that the kind of commissions I enjoy the most are those that offer me the opportunity to show my own particular world. But I enjoy almost all of them.

Every commission has its own particularities and I enjoy grappling with them, to get them just right, giving me the opportunity to grow as an artist. 

What would your dream commission be?

I don’t think I have one, I prefer to enjoy the journey of each job and take the best from each one.

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?


What 5 things could you not live without?

There’s nothing I couldn’t live without, especially regarding material things. Sometimes I think we act like pharaoh’s, accumulating material objects that we want to take to “the other side”. The only indispensable thing is love.

What is your very favourite meal?

My mom’s food. No doubt.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Do nothing is my favourite thing to do when I have spare time.

What is your current dream travel destination?

I don’t have a dream travel destination, although I have wanted to travel to India for a long time. But the most important travel you can do is the inner journey! Enjoy it, if you have the courage!