Denver Illustrator and Muralist ILL.DES Creates His Art With Chaos And Order

Denver Illustrator and Muralist ILL.DES Creates His Art With Chaos And Order

ArtJuly 06, 2022

Part Mathematics, part chaos is how David Fratu, aka ILL.DES, describes his work. Living and working in Denver, ILL.DES uses gradients and intricate patterns in his exploration of perspective at the crossroads of art, technology and psychology. 

Favorite Color?

All time favorite is purple, but my current favorite color to paint with is magenta. 


Words to live by? 

“Trust the process”. Doubt loves to creep in, but you just have to let go and trust that you have what it takes. 


Most played song on your playlist? 

“Fall In Love” - Slum Village


Studio or Streets?

A bit of both, though I have more fun in the streets. I love getting to interact with other people while I’m out painting. You get a chance to meet the community that the art will live with. On the street, I am absorbing knowledge from my surroundings, drawing inspiration from the people I meet and places I visit. I bring all of these experiences back to the studio, where I take time to recharge and learn from reading and practicing my craft. Both sides inform each other, feeding into a constant loop of learning, testing, and executing.   

Where do your artistic roots come from?

Growing up in the 90s I was influenced a lot by cartoons, video games, graffiti and skateboard graphics. Later on, Op-Art, technology and  architecture played an influential role in developing my current style. 


When did you decide to become a full time professional artist, and how did you make that leap?

I decided to become a full time artist after I quit my restaurant managerial job in 2017 to travel around Europe. I originally planned to get a job once I got back, but I decided I’d see how long I could survive off my art. Sometimes you just have to commit to the leap and don’t look back. 


What has been the most important key to your success so far?

Staying hungry. You have to keep the passion and never stop chasing your dreams no matter what gets thrown in your way. I’m constantly trying to unlock the next level in my work by remaining a student of life. As an artist, we have to keep sharpening our skills and expanding our minds to further our careers.

How would you describe your style of art?

Geometric abstract op-art


What is the inspiration behind the type of art you create?

The inspiration behind the work is rooted in a love for exploration of perception at the crossroads of art, technology and psychology. This was a major theme of the Op-Art movement, which was characterized by abstract compositions that use intricate patterns and gradients of tonal value to create illusions of depth and movement. I’ve drawn stylistic inspiration from the masters of perception in this art movement including Frank Stella, Victor Vasarely, M.C. Escher, and Franco Grignani. My vision is to continue to push the boundaries of the genre by fusing an homage to the studies of masters past and the technology at the forefront of the future. 


What does your creative process look like?

My process is fairly chaotic and mathematical at the same time. The work I create is all about finding balance between chaos and order. Much like my brain, which never seems to turn off. I slowly construct each piece line by line until I find that it feels balanced. Afterwards, I pick a color palette and use gradients to show tonal value. 


Do you have a favorite piece or one you are particularly proud of?

I would say that my mural that I recently painted in Chicago, IL is one of my favorite and most proud pieces of mine. The whole three week experience of painting that building from start to finish was a journey of many emotions. It was an incredible feeling to get to go back to my birthplace, walk the same streets I explored as a kid, and leave a permanent piece of myself on those walls. 


What is the best part, in your opinion, about the Colorado art scene?

I’m a big fan of the street art scene and the art community behind it. They’ve been very welcoming in having me be a part of it. I believe we can accomplish more by putting aside competition to create something larger than ourselves. I’m excited to be part of bringing Denver's newest international mural festival called, “Denver Walls' ' which is part of, “World Wide Walls' ' formerly known as, “Pow! Wow!”. 


If you could pick a dream location to paint, where would it be?

It would be in the small town of Sibiu, Romania where my parents are from. I still have family out there so it would be a special experience to get to paint there.

Instagram: @illdes