Latin American Ilustracion: Francisco Valle

By David Schonauer   Wednesday April 20, 2016

Francisco Valle is a skull artist.

 It’s an unusual job description, but entirely accurate.

Valle, an illustrator whose home town is Belo Horizonte, Brazil, creates skull designs that end up on a number of products — everything from tee shirts to smartphone covers, as well as fine-art prints featuring both highly decorated skulls and abstract work. His advertising work, meanwhile,  has been shortlisted for a Cannes Lion prize.

Valle’s skulls are not horrific depictions symbolizing death. He uses a variety of techniques to create artwork that comments on the symbolic power of the human skull, in lighthearted way. “All my skulls are related to life and beauty,” he says.

His illustration “Skull Flowers,” which was named a winner of the Latin American Ilustracion 4  competition, features a powder blue skull erupting with blooms and butterflies — a common motif in his work.

Valle worked on the illustration for two months in 2015: The final image was the result of detailed painting and photo manipulation. “The color palette is smooth and elegant, done with red, blue, white and gold. The challenge with an art with that much information is achieving visual harmony,” Valle says.

Valle is at peace with skulls. In a 2014 interview, he was asked what kept him up at nights. Not visions of the dead, but the urge to create, he said: “Sometimes I’m on my Instagram — @franciscovalle_art — sometimes I’m having painting and illustration ideas,” Valle replied.  “Also movies and TV series keep me up at night!”

See more of his work at his website.


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Dispatches from Latin America