Talking about Simplicity in Style and Process with Blok Magnaye

Simplicity is a key element in both Blok Magnaye’s visual style and process. From the solid shapes in his illustrations to the techniques he uses for creating them, Blok keeps it simple, resulting in bold, eye-catching, and distinctive work.

Particularly notable in his figurative designs, Blok takes the subjects in his images and breaks them down into a small series of shapes. They then become the building blocks for describing what he is representing, which he does with the fewest pieces possible, stripping away any unnecessary excess.

Blok tells us about this process in more detail as well as telling us about areas of art and design that have inspired him over the years.

“Hello! My name is Mark Magnaye but most people may know me as Blok. I’m a freelance illustrator currently working from my small bedroom *studio* in Bulacan, Philippines.”

“I would describe my style as colorful, geometric and simplistic. I would say my style is influenced by (mostly) vintage children’s books, Charley Harper’s art and vintage Eastern European poster art (especially Polish).”

“I have been doing a bunch of editorial work lately but for personal projects my inspiration ranges from personal experiences, day-to-day life, nature and pop culture.”

“I have been asked by a couple of people before on different occasions what my style was called and this is a question I always find difficult to answer. I’d tell them it’s ‘my’ style. I create what I create in the way that I can.”

“When I was younger, in high school, when I got my first copy of Photoshop and I was trying to dabble into digital art I didn’t have a pen tablet—I didn’t own one until I was already working as an illustrator, so all those years all I used was a mouse.”

“With a mouse, it’s very difficult to draw or paint unless you have god-like skills and patience (which I both lacked) hence I end up using the pen tool a lot. I developed a style that is flat and geometric.”

“Composition is important in my works. Every slant, every curve, every straight line is calculated, in a way.”

“Just like my style my process is also very simple. I begin any project with *really* rough sketches. Most of the time, I do sketches on paper using dermatographs but if those are not available or I’m in a rush work, I’d go straight into Photoshop.”

“I use the pen and shapes tool to create basic shapes like circles, squares and rectangles and just piece those together to create the artwork. I don’t ever draw anything except for the sketches.”

“Whenever I show my sketchbooks to people it comes with a caution, “it’s very messy”. My sketches are literally rough sketches. It’s chaotic.”

“Most people think I create my illustrations in Illustrator because of my style and process but I actually just use Photoshop. I became so adapted to using Photoshop that a couple of hours of work there would take a day if I do it in Illustrator. I just wish Adobe would also enable vectors in newer versions of Photoshop. I would be the first one to purchase it if ever that happens. I swear.”

All images © Blok Magnaye

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