Latin American Ilustracion: Fabian Todorovic Karmelic

By David Schonauer   Wednesday September 21, 2016

In 1914, the Great War broke out in Europe.

Soon, the entire world was enveloped in the conflict in one way or another. In 2014, Chile’s Museo Historico Nacional  (National History Museum) and the Instituto de Geografia of the Universidad Catolica de Chile staged an exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I and its impact on the country. Patricio Arriagada, the curator of the exhibition, commissioned Chilean architect and illustrator Fabián Todorovic Karmelic to create four posters for the show.

“The idea of the series was to represent significant events in a mixed media — hand drawing and vectorial plans of objects, machinery and events from the war. This mixture was both technical and historical,” says Todorovic.

The illustrations he produced form a visual narrative of the war, from the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand — the event that ignited the conflict — to the mobilization of nations, the air power that came to play in the fighting, and the use of deadly chemical weapons on the battlefields of France. His dramatic work was  later selected as a winner of the Latin American Ilustracion 4  competition.

“This exercise expressed my natural way of working — pencils, vectors and pixels,” says Todorovic. “I start with a hand drawing and later I pass to the PC to add vectors, color, shades, and shadows. In this process the illustration acquires more complexities, both technically and from a narrative standpoint. The different techniques are related, in that they express different emotions. When you mix them, you can turn the illustrations into stories.”

Drawing comes naturally to Todorovic, who says he was influenced by comic books as a child. “There was something in the traces and line work that I really loved,” he says. “The more lines and hatches there were, the more excited I got. Also, human figures and faces were the things that I was trying to reach. I thought of studying something related to visual art, but finally I studied architecture.”

Learning the craft of architecture, says Todorovic, is similar to learning illustration. “You need to spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, connecting your brain to your fingers, so the ideas, spaces and characters can be represented as you imagine them,” he says.

After finishing his studies in architecture, Todorovic drifted back to drawing and illustration. “But this time the things I drew became more inhabitants than characters — instead of just drawing  bodies and faces, I was finding a new and more complex dimension that explained something. There was a need not just to draw, but to communicate — that related the characters to a  context. It could be a space, a city or some historical background.”

Todorovic now divides his life between the two disciplines: During the day he works for an architectural firm, Mobile Arquitectos, designing healthcare, housing and urban projects, while at night and on the weekends he does illustration work — books and graphic novels — “for fun.”

You can find his illustrations at his website,, and at his Instagram page, @personajesilustrados.


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Dispatches from Latin America