Alex Antonescu

Alex Antonescu

(He/Him) • Constanța, Romania

Biography Interview

Alex is an illustrator based in Bucharest, Romania. Queer and proud, he has a quirky and colourful personality that reflects into his whimsical and full of life illustrations. The style of his works is versatile, diverse and very inclusive; one of his main goals being to represent every community and minority with pride. His pieces are full of colour, have a strong presence and always have a symbolic meaning behind them. His creation process starts with base sketches that have the essence of the story, then comes the digital base sketch and last but not least, the colouring, giving the illustration life and completing the story that needs to be transmitted.

Selected clients

Quebec Office for the Disabled, Government of Quebec, Beer52, Pedestrian Space, The New York Times, Santa Clara Magazine, Waterloo Alumni Magazine, Toronto Life, Constanta County Hospital

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Illustration, Whimsical, Conceptual, Cultural Diverse, Editorial, Book, Children’s Book, Cartoon, Typography, Graphic, Logo, Mural, Lifestyle

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  • Awarded the title “designer of the year 2023” at Romanian Design Week among other selected artists with my illustrated type book “Signam”

Career Milestones

Working with the Government of Quebec as a client; Having a special collection of wine bottles labelled with my illustrations; Receiving my masters degree in graphic design and typography

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Alex Antonescu

Your pronouns
My main pronouns are He/Him, but dabbling into the world of drag and being a queer person all around, they can be fluid.

How do you define your identity? Do you identify with (or advocate for) any marginalised communities?
I identify as queer, and if I had to choose a specific category it would be gay. Yet, I don’t put my finger on one specific identity because I always loved to experiment and I sure have more fields to explore. But one thing I know for certain, I do identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and I’m proud of that.
Regarding the support and advocating for a community question, yes!; I will always give my all to everyone under the rainbow. When I needed help, whether it was with a job, money, housing, anything, the queer community was first there for me and I will always return the favour.

Where is home?
Home is all around, I feel like if I find a little smidge of comfort anywhere and if I have my pen and pad to draw with me, it’s perfect!

Describe your style in one sentence
Thoughtful, symbolic and recognizable, but also funny, whimsical and colourful.

What lights your soul on fire?
I think I always get steamy and rumbly when the queer subject comes on. Even if it’s in a bad or a good way, my heart starts pumping faster and I feel the need to get involved. To talk about it, to defend it, to draw it, to support it, to be present.
My soul is a rainbow so it will always be on fire when something under it comes into discussion; always an interesting subject and a great source of inspiration.

What themes do you enjoy exploring?
I love to do pieces with a symbolic meaning behind it, even if it’s a simple day-to-day illustration I love to hide some secret story behind it to make it special. So I think I really enjoy exploring mythical themes, abstract themes and most certainly over the top challenging themes.
Being in constant growth I can say that challenging and maybe not so popular themes are my favourite because they help me evolve as an illustrator.

What techniques do you use?
I mostly work with digital devices to create illustrations, but I never said no to the traditional technique. When I feel that my work is not expressing all the emotions I want, I start scribbling with ink on paper. I feel like the strokes of ink are the most expressive lines you can get.
Regarding technical styles I think I mostly revolve around block illustrations, editorial ones; I love cartoony and colourful treatments and also cleanliness and storyline.

How much of yourself and your own story can we see in your work?
I always give the client something that I love and something that I would love to receive, so I think all of my works go through my filter of liking and taste. Connecting that to my own life story, I think it can be found in all the little details. I love to incorporate queer, fashion, diversity and love in all of my illustrations and these are snippets of my life; maybe unintentionally inspired by my lifestyle and what I experience.
More of me you can see in my style also. I always loved and embraced my PopArt obsession and knowledge so all the Keith Haring and warholian styles and colours are my own storyline and can depict who I am as an artist.

Is there an unmistakable thread in your creative work?
I think the only recurring thing in my workflow and the first thing I always do when I start working on a project is panic, get excited, panic a little more…always present. Then I start sketching and I get to the point.
I always love getting inspired by people, books, clothes, nails, pictures, paintings; everytime I find something that makes me tie it to an illustration, I remember, but every time it’s a different, unique story.

What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known for my passion for illustration, the person that loves what he is doing, never stops doing it, even if it is really not working sometimes. I want to be known as the person that believes in themselves and inspires others to be more brave, open and loving.
Also, clearly to be known as the illustrator with the cheetah hair print.

Which projects excite you most?
I think the ones that scare me the most, the ones that challenge me to learn and make me evolve. The ones that elevate my portfolio and the ones that when I finish working on them I look back and say: “Oh my God, I DID THIS!”

What is your dream gig?
I would love a contract with an editorial house that does printed magazines, papers and books. I have a masters in typography and I love printing houses; I especially love experimental art magazines like: “Plastik”, “Toiletpapper” and “Interview”. It would be amazing to do an art spread and feel the full circle moment.

Where, when and how do you best create?
I think the best place to create is at home, alone, after a long day of research, exploring, having fun and getting inspired. With all of my art supplies on my desk, music in my earbuds and letting the creative juices flow. I am the type of person that works at the concept and the base sketch late at night and when all is set and done, love to go outside and find a nice place to finish the artwork.

How has your style evolved since you started?
I started illustration as an accompaniment for my film photography. I do a lot of experimental photography and had the idea to create some characters and bring the images to life even more. It was a real success and I loved the illustration part so much that it became my principal occupation.
The style in the first place was very androgynous and I wanted all my works and characters to be very inclusive, but now looking back, maybe it was a little rough around the edges and sometimes had too much information packed. Now, still in continuous growth, evolving and refining my style, I think I found a balance between my values and how to transmit a good and clean story to the viewer with a more distinct style that represents me.

What do you find most challenging in your practice or in the industry?
The most challenging thing in the illustration industry is, I think, to find a style of illustration that sells, that the clients need, but also, a style that you love, that represents you as an artist and it brings you joy when you work with it.
Finding an illustration style is the hardest part because it’s in constant refinement and it has to be always in step with the trends.

How has being an illustrator changed your life?
I think this opportunity changed my life and my point of view because I always loved drawing and illustrating but I never even dared to dream that this could even be a possible real job.
Here in Romania, the illustrator position is not taken seriously enough and I always got side jobs to do a couple little drawings and got paid some spare change. When I got my first “real” client with the agency, had a contract and had my work be really appreciated, I knew this is what I want to do with my life and this is the direction I should head to.

Name a tool you can’t live without!
The erase tool! Mistakes are always present and nothing is perfect from the first try so thank God for digital artworks and how easy it is to repair some little hiccups; on paper it’s way harder to remove unwanted elements or change colours. 🙂

Tell us about a project you worked on that was meaningful to you as an artist.
The first ever project that I got with the agency! A big, big project with the government of Quebec, for the disabled-person visibility week. I was commissioned to do the visuals for the four disabilities that they revolved around that year. Illustrations made to raise awareness and promote diversity. As I said, diversity, inclusivity and identity are really important subjects for me and this one counted as one of the most amazing, big and dear to my heart projects I ever did.

What influences or inspires your art?
I get influenced by day-to-day activities, by flowers, people, fashion, street art, museums, social media, I think I always put my experiences and my life on paper and associate them with my work. Illustration is the main thing in my life and everything I do I correlate it with my drawings so I think I can say that I get inspired daily.

What would you tell your younger self?
Please don’t hide who you are, don’t be afraid to speak, don’t give up on what you like to do and what activities bring you joy because others find them not fun. Experiment, dress up wild if you want, go to those drag shows and tell mom you want to start illustrating faster.

Why do you think art speaks louder than words?
Art can be interpreted by everyone differently, influenced by the person’s own background; one piece can speak to someone at a different intensity than to another. Also art can speak and represent what the artist may not have the words or even courage to transmit. Furthermore art is a piece that speaks for a cause and will continue to speak as long as it’s exhibited rather than words that are a moment captured in time.

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