Miguel Ángel Camprubi’s bright and bold characters are well suited to being online stickers fired at the end of an instant message, so it’s unsurprising to find he’s received commissions from both Facebook and Snapchat Peru. In celebration of Peru’s Independence Day, the illustrator’s black-plaited Peruvian women danced amongst alpacas, while one of his Facebook stickers shows a sprinting strawberry emblazoned with the statement ‘on my way’.
Camprubi defines his style as “colourful, playful and bold”, often featuring abstract shapes which are “simpler and easier than in real life, more geometric as well”. His website url, HAHAH, also gives a flavour of his unique sense of humour. So far, this style has helped him snap up a number of other high-profile commissions, including from TED, Google, Ace & Tate and Apple Japan.
A fascination with all things creative began at a young age, when Camprubi was growing up in Spain. This was nurtured by his father, who was an art teacher, and his mother, a pattern making teacher. “It’s something I’ve always seen at home,” he explains. “It was not a direct education – my father has never taught me how to draw – but it is something that I could breathe at home. So I have been drawing since I remember, almost every day of my life.”
The influence of growing up in a household where manual skills were always appreciated has made its way directly into the some of the illustrator’s personal work. He is currently doing a ceramics course, and has been experimenting with ceramic vases, which are sculpted into the shape of people and embossed with expressive faces. “I want people to invest in this precious craft and to give it the value that it should have,” he says.
Camprubi didn’t initially realise illustration was his calling. He was intent on studying some form of art or design, but struggled to find a topic that captured his interest. A design course he studied in Madrid was too broad for him, so in his second year moved to an illustration course at a different university.
After finishing his studies, the wanderlust bug drove him to want to experience other cultures. “I wanted to live abroad for a while, to have the experience, to improve my English, to see how people live in a different country,” he says. When he stumbled across an internship at a VR startup in Amsterdam, he left Spain to move there.
Despite never having been to Amsterdam before, Camprubi was unphased. However, working as a graphic designer rather than a VR specialist at the startup meant that he found his hands idle. This was a blessing in disguise, as he used the free time to expand his creative toolkit, and learned to animate using Photoshop.
“My first animated project … was just three different people biking, and when I uploaded it to my Behance site I got really good feedback. So I got motivated and started to animate more and more,” he says.
The path to animation has by no means been straight, and Camprubi has tried out various other creative avenues along the way, including working at a fashion brand and a newspaper. But he would rather be his own boss from now on. “I realised that it was really difficult to make my own work fit in [elsewhere]. So I knew that I would have to develop my universe at home, in my free time,” he says.
Camprubi has now developed a distinctive world of characters, often created with a few simple black lines or his signature colourful palette. He also plans to do more animation. “Once you see one illustration animated, it’s really hard not to animate the rest. Your characters come to life, it’s great,” he says.