Illustrator Jaume Osman on how lettering gave him the confidence to draw characters

Vilanova i la Geltrú-based illustrator, animator and letterer Jaume Osman is instantly recognisable thanks to his colourful and distinctive art style. But it wasn't until he took a calligraphy course that he found the confidence to explore the world of character design.

It's hard to miss the work of Jaume Osman. Recognisable by their vibrant colours and dynamic shapes, his illustrations appear to burst off the screen as a dazzling display of amazing artistry. His work has appeared on everything from TV spots for tacos to festival posters fizzing with energy, and every time, and they pack a punch that demands your attention.

Given this confidence, then, it's somewhat surprising to learn that Jaume initially felt like he lacked the creative chops to tackle the world of character design. And it was only thanks to the skills he picked up as a letterer that he managed to crack the discipline.

Jaume might be lighting up the world of illustration right now, but he originally started many years ago by making web pages for a living. He admits that it was something he wasn't very passionate about, but it did introduce him to After Effects and motion graphics. This appealed to him much more, and he spent several years creating all sorts of motion graphics projects.

"During those years, I took a calligraphy and lettering course, and that was when I wanted to change my work a little and specialise more in lettering, illustration, and small animations," he tells Creative Boom. "I always try to maintain the same style in my work, whereas before, I adapted to any style asked of me. This sometimes made it more difficult for me to start projects, and some styles cost me more time and effort."

Describing his art style as characteristically casual, Juan's illustrations are defined by their flat colours without shadows or gradients. And just as he wants to stick to a style that's uniquely his own, there's also a practicality to Juan's aesthetic. "It is a style where, if I have to animate it, it's easier for me," he explains.

These days, Juan's skills as a letterer and animator/ illustrator feed into one another. But according to Juan, he wouldn't be where he is today without the skills he picked up as a letterer. "Drawing letters is something that I mainly started doing because I thought I didn't know how to draw well enough to make characters," he reveals.

"Now, I'm not so afraid of drawing characters, but I think I'm not a great artist. However, making letters makes me feel more comfortable."

We can't say that we agree with Juan about him not being a great artist, but we're glad that his love for lettering has led to him being able to draw his other favourite thing: strange characters. These bizarre beings can be seen all across his portfolio, and it seems like one wouldn't exist without the other.

He reveals: "If I can, I combine my characters with letters. In my drawings, I always include eyes, hands, fingers, and little things like that, which are easy to draw.

"I've always thought I don't know how to draw well enough to draw well-proportioned human characters. That's why I started drawing strange, non-human characters, sometimes poorly drawn, to cover up my lack of drawing technique."

He continues: "All this has led me to draw strange characters based on simple shapes like balls, squares, and pyramids. I put eyes on them, along with mouths and hands, and I try to mix all of them with letters."

A prime example of all these elements in action is Juan's last job for a Sueca Taco company. With complete characterful ingredients zooming across the screen and plenty of animated graphics and lettering, it sounded like the ideal commission.

"I had a great time with that project because I could do it in my own style. They gave me a lot of freedom, making things turn out better for me," Juan explains. "It was a lot of work, and I did it all myself: posters, characters, animations, everything. But it was worth it."

Currently in between projects – and open to any proposals that readers may have in mind – Juan is nevertheless keeping himself busy. "I have a lot of drawings that I'm going to make for myself to improve my portfolio and help find good projects."


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