Issue Three Feature: Laz Llanes | Illustrator

Issue Three - March 2013

Laz Llanes

Who are you and what type of creative are you?

I've always been an artist, as far back as this wrinkly mass of gray-matter in my cranium can remember. If it wasn't Crayons, it was color pencils or markers. My parents even went so far as to paint my bedroom walls white so that I could draw on them with Sharpies of all things. It was that encouragement that let me be the illustrator that I am today. 

As for the type of creative that I am, I'd have to say that if I am not inspired to draw, I wont.  I don't believe in half-hearted designs and illustrations. If I sit in front of my sketchbook or computer and the creativity doesn't make its way to my fingers, I'll walk away. I've realized that it's for the best. There's nothing shittier than a work of art with no passion behind it. I've tried it. I always end up looking at the finished piece and tearing it up. 

What made you interested in illustration?

I'd say it was a good mix of nature and nurture. My grandfather was into handwriting and calligraphy. My father enjoyed architecture as a hobby. It seemed likely that I would grow up with a love for drawing. It was something that came naturally. I'd say it's my only real talent. The combination of my natural urge to draw and my parents' encouragement are the reason for the love I have for illustration. No matter how much time I put into a drawing while growing up, my dad would take me aside and say "That's great. Now let me show you how you can make this better." It was that kind of approach that has allowed me to welcome and grow from constructive criticism. 

Art is magic. The ability to take a thought or vision and bring it to life on a sheet of paper never fails to amaze me. I have so much appreciation for artists and creatives. Being a part of that community is an honor. My next step is working my way into playing a more prominent part in the art world. First locally here in Miami and then hopefully branching out.

What is meaning behind your name "Little Black Heart?"

That actually may not be as interesting as you would hope. Haha. Let's just say that my sarcasm may be a talent of its own. So when people do or say something that I find cruel or mean spirited, I usually respond with "Bless your little black heart" in lieu of telling them what an ass they are. I really liked the sound of it, so I stuck with it. 

Who/What inspires you? 

First and foremost, I'm inspired by the people who have shaped me for the better: my parents, my daughter and the love of my life. Who would anyone be without the people they love and who love them?

Aside from that, I am very much inspired by other artists. They push me to try new things or to take different approaches. I am constantly searching online, through magazines or album covers for illustrators and their work. And now with Instagram, it has gotten so easy to follow an artist's process that I find myself on there far too often either looking for inspiration or sharing my own work. Look me up on there if you're interested: LittleBlkHeart. I could use your feedback! 


What is your creative process?

I don't actually have one single process. It's all in how the project comes to me. Sometimes an idea comes to mind and I dive right in. There are other times where I may not be sure what direction to take, so I do sketch a bit. After that, it's ink and markers. I am a Prismacolor enthusiast. Most of the illustrations I do are Prismacolor on watercolor paper. I've learned to treat the markers like watercolor and it's a process I've fallen in love with. After that, depending of what feel I'm going for, I usually scan the artwork and give it a distressed and aged feel on the computer. 

Something else I do a few times a week are drawings on index cards. As a graphic designer, I spend countless hours on a computer. So, as a mental health break I try to do a few drawings a week to post up around my gray cube of wonders. It helps my mind unwind as well as keeping my hands practiced. I also post those up regularly on my blog to keep the galleries fresh with new material. 

What illustration are you most proud of and why?

As artists, not only are we our own worst critic, but we are always growing and changing. So when a piece is done and I am satisfied with it, I'll look at it a few months later and realize what I could have done to make it better. So I envision a better version of my finished piece. That makes it hard to have a favorite, I think. 

I don't know that I have one illustration that I am most proud of. My Ganesha piece has gotten a lot of print requests, and I'm pretty happy with that one. But I also love the last illustration I did of my girlfriend and I am particularly fond of a set I made of a man with an octopus head and another with a fishbowl for a head. Then there's this poster I did for a Marilyn Manson concert years ago. That one has also gotten a lot of good feedback. But I can honestly say that I don't have a single illustration that is my favorite. I think that's good. It means I will always strive for better. 

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