Finding Artistic Inspiration in Nature: An Interview with Artist Guillermo Flores

Guillermo Flores

Designer, art director and illustrator Guillermo Flores is based in Guadalajara, México and specializes in collage, illustration and digital art. He has collaborated with organizations and companies around the world serving as a creative and art director on multiple projects, developing brand identity, strategy, planning and execution.

Flores has been part of various exhibitions inside and outside of México, one of the most important being the International Collage Art Exhibition in Warsaw, part of the collective exhibition called Surreal Lovers at Retro Avangarda Gallery where he has 12 works on display, referring to the relationship of humans and nature.

Bioneers reached out to Flores to create an original collage illustration for the Bioneers 2023 conference poster and main stage animation.

Visit Guillermo Flores’ Instagram account here.

Visit Flores’ Behance portfolio here.

He was interviewed by Bioneers’ Emily Harris.

Emily Harris (EH): The first thing I want to say is how much we appreciated working with you for the stunning conference art. It’s so rare to be able to work with an artist who’s willing to take you into their world. The way that we got to sit with you, showing us how you were constructing everything, it was really mesmerizing to watch how you work. So thank you!

Guillermo Flores (GF): You’re welcome. Thank you very much.

EH: How did you find your way into art and art direction?

GF: It really was something very casual. In college, I had my first course with Adobe Photoshop and I loved it. I mean, I found the perfect tool to create illustrations. And, I was going to study music. But finally, I decided on design. I decided to study design because I thought there’s no math [laughs] you know, that mathematica. That was my breaking point.

EH: I totally get it [laughs].

GF: Yeah. But finally graphic design showed me that I could achieve many things. I think everything comes from nature. I mean, that’s my inspiration all the time. Plants, birds, the yard, the universe, I mean, everything is there. The bright colors, the shapes.

For example, the peacock or maybe imagine this other animal called octopus. So I think it’s something super crazy, like it’s from another planet! It’s completely surreal. So yeah, everything is in nature. We have it in front of our eyes.

EH: You’re so right!

GF: I think that’s my inspiration. And that’s why this I decided to create collages and illustrations.

EH: It shows, I think that’s what I was struck by most. We are always looking for artists to collaborate with on various projects and when we discovered you on Behance, I just kept returning to your work and it was that wild and aliveness in your art that caught my attention. Your appreciation of nature just speaks so authentically through your artwork. And I also love your playfulness with it.

GF: When I was a kid my mother had a lot of books and these books showed me a lot of nature and birds. She was a singer she had like, 70 studio albums. The artwork on the covers was inspiring also. So maybe that’s a reason that I love to create illustration. I loved to read a lot of books when I was kid for example, let me show you. [Flores shows me a vintage Natural History book]

EH: Cool! So as a kid, you were already drawn to those illustrations?

GF: Yeah, exactly! I don’t know how to say this but it’s like when a baby from their mother [laugh]. Yeah. It’s was the same with books for me.

EH: So you were already drawing from what you were exposed to. It’s funny that you showed me the anatomical human body, the parts. Sometimes people might say, oh, well that person’s destined to be a doctor or a surgeon or something, you know what I mean? But I love that, for you, it seems like it was about the wonder and the beauty of it, right?  The beauty and the awe of that influenced how you were going to interpret that in your artwork. Thank you for showing me that, really wonderful to see those vintage books that have been with you.

You also use a lot of botanical prints in your work as well. Is there anything else that helped influence the development of your unique style?

GF: A lot of people ask me about this. Like how did I find my own style? This is going to sound crazy, but I think the style finds you. In the end, I think that’s how it works. I just start with exploring and then try with different colors, shapes, and I think you just need to put attention to nurture, your environment and then you can find something. Actually, my recent illustrations have a lot of color. I think it was like this process inside of me. You know what I mean? I’ve been working with my psychologist to find new ways to relax more. So it’s like that, exploring, trying new things. [laughs]

So that’s the reason that I found new colors. It’s like an internal process. I think when you need to be like, I don’t know, what’s the word? Chill or relaxed, then you can find something in front of your eyes. Things open up. If you try hard to find your style, it’s going to be a nightmare. Just ask, what’s the reason that moves you? You just need to create, experiment, and try.

EH: Two things come to mind; I’m feeling inspired by your process. I love walking in nature, it’s my refuge. I think when we live in a chaotic, fast paced world, finding places to relax is critical. There’s a certain aliveness that allows for your senses to open up when you can calm your nerves. I was interested in interior design at one point in my life, and I always thought, if I were creating a paint palette, I would only draw from nature because it always creates– this reminds me of what you’re saying, nature presents the most incredible combinations and textures. Nature provides endless inspiration. I appreciate your sentiment to just relax and kind of let it happen. It’ll come out. What drew you to collage and illustration?

GF: That was a weird mix that I found. I’ve worked in advertising agencies for many years. At some point I mixed the two it was very casual. I think collage is a very novel technique. You can explore and try and create really beautiful things. I think collage comes from the idea of exploring materials and experimented with images that are already there. It’s very easy to approach. Everyone can explore this technique. The final result, it’s going to be great because it doesn’t have rules.

For example, you can cut some images from magazines and you can create your own composition and there’s no pressure. If you paint or do a technique where materials are expensive, you feel this pressure, like I can’t make a mistake. [laughs]

EH: So true, working with this inherently experimental form takes some of the pressure off.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people whether they consider themselves an artist or not, but are interested developing their artistic side?

GF: Yeah, I always say just do it. Just experiment, show your work and at some point, everything else will come. So meanwhile you should create and read and study about art and design. At some point in your life, all this information, it’s going to show in your eyes, like, boom, you know? And that’s it. You need to be patient. In art or graphic design or this kind of art you need to really be patient. For example, if you want to be a musician, you need to practice a lot, even if you have talent you need to practice.

EH: Absolutely. Are there any dream projects coming up or current that you’re really excited about?

GF: I’m doing large murals. I don’t know why people think collage is only for small pieces. You can create a lot of huge graphics so I’m trying that out. I love it. I’m also really excited about the launch of my Domestika course on advertising, illustration, and the whole process. I shot it in Mexico City, really looking forward to sharing with everyone.

GF: I have a funny story. When I was a kid, my mother was an actor. She did eight movies. She would bring me to her movie sets and I got asked to act as an extra in some of the movies when I was a kid.

EH: Congrats! We’ll look for it. That sounds really exciting. Did you always want to teach?

GF: [laughs] So, I don’t know. My whole life, I always been in front of a camera. I mean, when I was a musician, I was a front man, the guy who gave interviews. So when Domestika approached me to teach design, I said, of course! It was an amazing experience. It felt natural.

EH: I can imagine because, again, you’re very patient and you clearly love what you do. I think those two things have always made for the best teachers, in my life, who really want you to understand and get it because they love it and they want to share that with you. So that’s really wonderful.

GF: Right, maybe the word for this is passion?

EH: Passion, exactly.

GF: If you have passion and if you love your work, your jobs are your soul or I don’t know how to say that. It’s a romantic way to say this, right? [laughs]

EH: I think you’re right about that. I think passion is a language of your soul. It shows through, people can feel it, even if they can’t put words to it, they sense it deeply.

GF: When I was young, I learned you could express yourself with music. Even if you don’t have the words, you can play some instrument. And you can say how you feel. So my principal instrument is drums. When I felt angry, I played angry on drums. I learned to cry in my lyrics. I found a way to express myself with music and with some lyrics with singing.

I think illustrations or graphic design or art is the same. You can express yourself painting. Maybe you are angry. You can paint a lot of shapes with like hard colors, maybe reds or blacks or, you know. I think it’s the same.

EH: Yeah. As much as I love language, it doesn’t always get at a feeling. Once you realize how profound or how special they are to you, you hope that other people in the world find those outlets for themselves.

GF: You don’t need to speak the same language. But I think the music and arts, it’s a language. It’s the same language.

EH: Yeah, more universal. Thank you again for all your time and for creating this incredible artwork to kick off our conference in Berkeley, it will surely have a wonderful impact.

GF: So excited to hear how everyone responds. Thank you!

Learn more about Guillermo Flores’ work at:

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