Humberto Cruz, the artist behind CHANEL’s quirky and fun celebrity playlists’ cover artwork, worked with some of the biggest names in fashion and music before he created art to celebrate pride and Black lives matter, which Very Good Light is proud to offer on merch!

Formally trained as a graphic designer at the Art Institute of California based in San Diego, Humberto is a freelance illustrator who has found most work due to his Instagram, where he posts his colorful designs daily. Many of his influences stem from pop culture and fashion, and his work has been featured in Nylon and V Magazine. More recently, he’s created music cover artwork for David Guetta and CHANEL. Below, he speaks to Very Good Light about his creative process, inspirations, and his signature style.

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Proceeds from the sales of our merch in collaboration with @iscreamcolour item will be donated to the Marsha P Johnson Institute. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.

How did you manage to convey Black Lives Matter and Pride in such a quirky and fun way, despite the heavy emotions you felt these past couples of weeks?

I usually use different quotes and images to make my collages, but this time I didn’t want to use images that could be seen as too self-promotional. So on a Saturday night, I started illustrating and I had all these emotions mixed with anger and sadness triggered by the constant news cycle that I poured into my drawings. There was also a protest going on outside my home in San Diego, which I went to for 30 minutes, but didn’t stay longer because I’m still concerned about COVID-19.

What first attracted you to illustration?

I’ve been drawing since I was little and my style hasn’t changed a lot (laughs sheepishly) because it still has this childlike quality. I went to college to study graphic design, but after I graduated I had a hard time finding a full-time job in my field. I got a retail job instead, and every evening I used my Instagram account like a diary. It started getting traction and I met a couple of people through there that were interested in my work and I got some assignments through it.

Walk me through your collage-making process.

At first, I pretty much only used images of pop culture icons, but then I changed my style to focus on people that made a difference in the world, like with my recent collage of Marsha P. Johnson. For the background, I paint with acrylics and then I scan it and upload it onto Photoshop to do the rest of the designs.

How did you come up with the name I SCREAM COLOUR?

When I was trying to figure out my new Instagram handle, I figured that ‘I Scream Colour’ captures my art philosophy since I love color, and the ‘I scream’ sounds like ice cream, which makes it seem fun, sweet, and childish.

The celebrity quarantine playlist artwork you did for CHANEL was really something special. How did that opportunity come to life?

They found me via Instagram and DM’d me. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever done so far, so I’m really grateful and hopefully it will lead to more work!

You also did artwork for David Guetta’s single “Don’t Go Away.” Did they slide into your DMs as well?

Hahaha, yes they did! They gave me complete creative freedom with that project.

Do you think your formal training in graphic design helped you carve out your niche?

Not at all. I actually regret going to college because now I have all these student loans to pay off. I feel like I wasn’t taught useful things around how to run a freelance business, setting rates, etc.

Do you have a particular affinity for fashion, since you use a lot of fashion icons in your imagery?

I’ve always been interested in fashion and combine quirky drawings with people’s pictures. But I’m also tired of seeing the same models and faces, so I try to find people that are starting out in modeling and I ask for their permission to use their images, like with this new Mexican model, Sara Esparza.

How did you cultivate your signature style over the years?

Well, there’s an evolution. At first, my illustrations were quite girly and more classic and “tame,” but I didn’t enjoy drawing as much then. However, now I love illustrating because my current work shows more of my personality and I express myself more freely now. I also always wanted to move to a different city because San Diego is not very cultural or artsy, and I think one day I’ll move and I’ll feel even more inspired.

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