A highly pop and comical aesthetic with very personal humor lends an apparent lightness to Castano’s unconventional and mischievous works. His strikingly bold and clear style immediately involves the viewer, but is also an invitation for deeper reading and interpretation.
Whilst his work resonates closely with the LGBT community and is extremely conscientious, an irreverent and disenchanted undercurrent suggests Juan is telling tales of his own experiences, which do not always have a dreamy and princely ending, but often remain suspended between the grotesque and the kawaii.
How was your approach to art?
When did you decide to become an illustrator?
I think that somehow art has always been present in my life. As a child I always loved drawing, and I loved painting books. I don’t think I ever decided to become an illustrator, I just began spending more and more time drawing which led me to discover the world of digital illustration. Then suddenly people began commissioning me.
Tell me something about your work, how would you describe your illustrations?
Well, I think that my illustrations are a mix of many artistic influences and styles that I admire: Japanese illustration, constructivism, art deco … and the result is work that combines eroticism and naivety with simple lines and colors.
In my opinion there is a certain Japanese in- spiration behind them and obviously they are very pop.
Which are your main artistic influences?
This influence is certainly more obvious in my first works yet it has never been lost as I have evolved as an artist. As for influential artists I always name Junko Mizuno; her work is fascinating, Rodchenko and Popova, whom I discovered in an exhibition in London, Malika Favre, Sanna Annuka… and many more.
Which are your main references when it comes to illustrations?
In the case of illustration, Maria Picassó i Piquer; her works hypnotize me and convey a total mastery of proportion and characterization. Jarom Vogel; his palette and work are amazing, and Roda’s work is ab- solutely brilliant with a use of color I envy.
Talking about style, what is elegant for you?
For me, elegance is something timeless. I don’t think it is merely about simplicity or dressing in basic clothes, I think it’s a step further; it’s a talent, something you are born with or without in the same garment, one can exude elegance and another cannot.
What is fashion for you? And which are the essentials in your personal wardrobe and style?
Fashion has always been present in my life. When I was younger and going out at night, I could spend an hour trying on clothes, choosing what to wear that night to ensure I was not to go unnoticed. I have always liked to see what is going to take and what is not, and I usually read a lot of fashion magazines. I’m not a fashion victim and if there is something that does not fit, I do not wear it. Let’s say I like fashion but I do not obsess over it. I’m going to say something very obvious; in my closet there are always jeans – I can’t live without them. I find them very comfortable and I can use them for practically any event.
One of the focus as MANINTOWN is travelling. Can you tell us something about your country/your hometown. Like a place to see, a place where to eat, something to do...
I am lucky to have been born in the best country in the world he he he… I am from Spain and was born in Cartagena; a city in the southeast, but currently I spend most of the week in Alicante, a coastal city near the south of Valencia. It is a very touristy city that has many visitors all year round. Throughout the area there are beautiful beaches and wonderful places like Altea or La Granaella. It is very typical to eat rice (not the same as paella), cooked in a variety of different ways amongst many other tasty gastronomic delights. More over, the people of Ali- cante and Spain “in general” are very friendly.
Projects for the future?
Right now, I am working on an illustrated book for adults, a kind of sea story, with tritons and sailors of course. I am also waiting for a children’s book that I have illustrated to be published. As for future projects, I hope to finish a book dedicated to mythology by mid-2020 and my dream is to be able to devote myself full-time to illustration.
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