Norman Duenas (@normanduenas) is a freelance artist/apparel graphic designer currently based in California. His personal illustration/drawing/painting works utilizes a variety of artistic styles/techniques to better convey the meaning and emotions of each work. Norman has worked with The New York Times, Fab.com, and a couple different lifestyle clothing brands such as Sevenly, Threadless, California Limited, and other companies.
Interviewer Alexi Ueltzen (@alexi) is Ello's Social Media & Email Manager. She lives in Evergreen, CO with her husband, two dogs, and one hedgehog named Ditters who hates everything except for mealworms and tunnels.
Pssst: Leave a comment on this post and you could win a print from Norman.
EO: Have you always been artistic, or working towards becoming an illustrator?
ND: No. When I was young, I wanted to learn more about computer science, but then in high school, I took an intro to studio art course and loved it.
EO: How did you develop your drawing style?
ND: I just practice a whole lot and try out different styles of drawing. You could also say I'm still developing it because I don't really want to stick to just one style. I want to try and enjoy everything.
EO: What types of emotions or messages do you try to convey with your work?
ND: There isn't really any particular emotion that I'm conveying with my work. What should be taken from it is how it comes across and affects the viewer. Although as cliche as they sound, I guess what I'm trying to say is, live life, and appreciate all experiences. Our time is limited, and we all end the same way. My work is also a reminder of those things to myself.
EO: There are definitely some recurring themes in your work: butterflies, astronauts, skulls. Why do they reappear with such frequency?
ND: They're profoundly fascinating. They're also fun to draw and evocative of many different emotions pertaining to mortality, memories, and dreams.
EO: You lived in the Philippines until you were a teenager; does the culture there influence your work at all?
ND: No, not really. Despite that, I enjoyed my time there. I miss the simple life. I enjoyed my childhood with no cellphones; just pure unadulterated upbringing.
EO: I'm guessing lots of artists are interested in developing designs for apparel as well. What advice do you have for artists who want to get their designs on clothing?
ND: If you haven't really thought about selling your work on apparel products, you can start by exploring POD sites such as Society6, Redbubble, Threadless etc and set up shop. Once you get a hold of things (it might take some time to get used to their process but it gets easier) you can preview your work on their apparel templates (and other products) and then you can go live and sell them. Look for trends. Work on your style and keep uploading while building your customer base.
EO: What advice do you have for artists who are still developing their own style and aesthetic?
ND: Be open-minded. Try out new things. Try different mediums. Enjoy the process. Keep learning. Be true to yourself.
EO: Who are some of your favorite artists on Ello, and what do you like about being an artist on Ello?
ND: @jamesjean is an amazing artist. His work is so intricate and full of life. There are also so many other incredible artists whom I can't remember off the top of head (I should really follow more people here). It's also great to be showcasing my work on a site that puts the work first.
EO: What are you doing when you’re not creating art?
ND: I'm an introvert so I read, write poetry or go through an existential crisis once in a while. I workout every now and then.