Interview with Orlando (Mexifunk) Arocena, Vector Artist

Orlando Arocena

Orlando Arocena

Orlando Arocena is a vector artist and creative strategist who has delivered solutions for some of the world’s most renowned brands. He’s also speaking at CreativePro Week 2024, which takes place July 8-12 in Washington, DC, where he will share his game-changing approach to creating artwork with gradients in Adobe Illustrator.

If you’re a regular Illustrator user, you’ve almost certain seen some of Orlando’s artwork, since he designed the splash screen for Illustrator CC 2014, called Venus Revisited. You can read all about the process here.

Venus Revisited by Orlando Arocena shown in outline mode in Adobe Illustrator

Venus Revisited by Orlando Arocena shown in outline mode in Adobe Illustrator

Final art for the Illustrator CC 2014 splash screen

We thought it would be fun to get to know Orlando better with some Q&A.

Where do you find inspiration?

At 51, I find inspiration everywhere, including past experiences and memories. Whether from visiting cool friends in far off countries or sitting back and stuffing my face with popcorn while watching a movie. From books to exhibitions, to just walking across the street. I find inspiration in the culture of it all!

What’s your earliest memory of making art?

Earliest memory of making art… whoa! uhmmmmm, probably helping my older brother pass his political history class by drawing him a military tank. I believe I was in the first grade (6 yrs old?) and my brother is about 13 years older than me :)

Favorite feature in Illustrator that you wouldn’t want to live without?

My favorite feature in Illustrator has to be the Gradient tool. I know how to load that sucker up with so many colors, it will make your head spin!

Best suggestion or tip for anyone new to Illustrator/illustration or the creative community in general?

My tip for folks who are thinking about jumping into vector illustration with Illustrator, it’s not as forgivable as Photoshop. The tools so many have become accustomed to while playing in Photoshop surprisingly don’t perform the same way in Illustrator. So take time to tighten up your boot straps, take a deep breath and explore the pen, pencil and paintbrush tools. Sometimes importing a scanned sketch and plotting anchor points over it can help you break the ice. It’s all about shapes, making more shapes while you enjoy making mistakes and learn from them.

What are you most excited to share in your upcoming session?

After 27 years of playing in Adobe Illustrator, I’m most excited to share how to simply grab the Pencil tool, doodle a few shapes (while they automatically fill with gradient colors—another thing Photoshop can’t do) and allow our childlike imaginations to take over and enjoy the fun of just creating with vectors.

Watch a longer interview with Orlando and Mark Heaps from our Adobe Illustrator Summit in 2021:

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