Latin American Ilustracion: Daniel Lievano

By David Schonauer   Wednesday November 16, 2016

In 2015, as the Colombian government and FARC rebels worked on hammering out an agreement that would bring an end to the nation’s 60-year civil war, Vice Media launched an ambitious project looking back at the conflict and ahead to people.

To enliven the project’s detailed text, Vice commissioned Bogotá-based freelance illustrator Daniel Liévano  to create a series of illustrations, including a piece depicting one of the long conflict’s legacies (above).

“Colombia is one of the most land mine-affected countries in the world,” says Liévano. “Over the decades, anti-personnel mines have taken the lives of thousands of civilians, mostly affecting children who have died or lost limbs.” As part of the peace accord, he notes, the government and FARC pledged to rid the Colombian landscape of mines.

Liévano determined to create art work that examined the violence and danger of the war without being explicit. Visual content, he says, is perceived and processed faster than words can be. “That is why I love the art of illustration — there is this strange relationship between text and image. It seems that the image should barely describe the words,” he says. “But there is also this important space for illustration to be mysterious, a gap that holds both content and symbolism that makes the picture both independent and totally bonded to text.”

Rather than showing violence and death, he wanted his image to provoke with what he calls “elegant innuendos.”

Liévano did his bachelor studies in graphic design and advertising. “I started to work as an illustrator two years ago,” he says. “Before that, I worked in a graphic design studio. Although I do not consider myself having great drawing skills, I've always had this curiosity about how humans read images. Symbols, stereotypes, icons and archetypes can all become graphic ,and learning about semiotics has helped me organize my noisy ideas and the way I see the world.”

Here are other examples of his work for Vice:

This summer, after the peace accord between the Colombian government and FARC was signed, the nation voted in a plebiscite to reject the agreement, adding poignancy to Liévano's illustration for Vice. The work was named as a winner of the Latin American Ilustracion 4 competition.

In April, Liévano was also invited by the Colombian students of Harvard, MIT, Tufts and Boston University to speak about how he chose to illustration the history of the war. The event took place at MIT, and you can view it at YouTube.

He has also published book called La vida es ilusión, which features work made over the course of his career.

Dispatches from Latin America