Jaime Hayde on creating bold and playful illustrations that are unapologetically real

Getzo-based illustrator and graphic designer Jaime Hayde specialises in creating joyful images that pop with colour. But his work really took off when he started sharing illustrations that were unapologetically true to himself.

Jaime Hayde likes to speak his mind. This straightforward approach can be seen in his art style, which mixes distinctive shapes with eye-catching colours. Having created work for big names such as Warner Music, Grindr and BBVA, his honesty and confidence have taken him far and appear effortless. But, as is often in the creative industry, the story is a little more complicated than that.

In his work, Jaime likes to seek out those little everyday moments that make life worthwhile, whether a hug with his boyfriend or lounging around with his pets. It's a natural extension of his "sorry, not sorry" personality. "I feel my illustrations are the same: sincere, simple and full of small details that mean the world to me, but nobody else notices them," he tells Creative Boom.

"My work rests on embracing who I am. I a self-affirmation and self-portrait," he adds. However, his positive approach was the result of fighting an inner sadness. "In my artistic practice, I try to embrace important issues, like anxiety, love or happiness."

These feelings resulted from a move, break up and a hospital visit. To fight them, Jaime turned to repeatedly drawing images of men, love, and life's funny moments. Yet despite all the good it was doing him personally, Jaime was unsure about sharing his illustrations with a wider audience.

"I was afraid of showing what I was doing because someone pointed out that it might be difficult for me to get clients if the real me was that visible," he explains. "For quite some time, I kept my professional portfolio free from my identity and my sketches in a folder.

"But then, one day, I decided to share some sketches on social media. The response was positive, and so I did it again from time to time. Some encouraging messages arrived in my inbox, and I found so much joy in reading people's responses."

As well as being a courageous leap on Jaime's part, these illustrations represented an evolution of his style. "My drawing technique was changing from the straight and geometric lines that I used to draw, and became more curved and rounded," he reveals. "I think, unconsciously, my inner self wanted some expression and freedom."

Honesty comes with vulnerability, and for Jaime, it was difficult to hear that some people reduced his work to nothing more than "gay illustration". In his opinion, this is a gross oversimplification. "The emotions and the feelings have no gender, and there's no such a thing as straight illustration," he says.

"I only show the kind of drawings I want to see: real men loving other men, not necessarily explicit but moments of complicity and tenderness too. For a long this kind of love was hidden, or it was only shown in an erotic context. But daily life is more interesting to me. Netflix, cooking, cleaning – these are all real moments, and I drew from the heart to express my deepest feelings."

Jaime's characters are usually happy because they are celebrating their lives. This was a conscious choice on his part because Jaime is tired of the sadness that can often cloud stories in the LGBT community. "we have as much happiness or sadness as any other person," he says.

"I try to share good vibes combined with some double-meaning details. I share frozen moments where you don't know if you're looking at a one-night-stand couple or if it's something more serious. You can make up your own story."

Jaime's characters might be inspired by men, but he still works hard to defy stereotypes. Far from all being toned hunks, there are many "bald, hairy and fat men" as well. "This is more similar to the image I see in the mirror," he jokes. And as for the vibrant colours, Jaime uses these because he likes how they pop. "I was silent for so many years. It was high time to speak, so colour was my way of yelling.

"Also, it was a natural response to the love for my boyfriend rising inside me," he reveals. "I picture myself as yellow because I am a half-black man, and I feel there's no such thing as a unique skin tone. I use yellow because it's how I feel now. It's hard to explain, but each person shines in a different colour."

This approach has led to some people not feeling represented in Jaime's illustrations, but he's keen to stress that he does not intend for there to be any barriers. "I grew up in a straight white society where people like me never had a place in animated programmes or films. Despite this, I adore many of those masterpieces because they communicate feelings that are universal."


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