Dark, creepy, and hopeful are a few of the words illustrator Alfredo Caceres uses to describe his art style—a style that he accidentally stumbled upon after originally signing up to be an architect in college. The young chilean artist now illustrates for books, video games and teaches at a local university on the same subjects he still considers himself a continuous student of. Caceres believes a strong beginning really sets you up for success which might explain the touch of his Chilean roots that are evident in all his pieces. We talked with the illustrator about his use of blacks, making his own book and of course, his love for cats. 



I live in Santiago, but I grew up in Valdivia, a city in the south of Chile. My childhood there has really influenced my style.


Coffee or tea?

Both, I can’t really choose … life or death maybe coffee for kick starting my day.


If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tough question, I like a lot of music. Maybe A Pocketful of Stones by David Gilmour. That song and probably Hejira by Joni Mitchell have a special something I can’t really describe.


Three things you can’t live without?

Books, conversations with friends and art supplies.


If you could be any animal, what would you be? 

A cat. I like cats, like, a lot.


Words of wisdom?

There’s a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness that has brought a lot of peace in my life. When you stop looking to an effect for every cause, your life becomes a whole lot more peaceful.

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”


How do you want to be remembered? 

I try to avoid thinking about things like that. However, what we’re remembered for is something that makes people be kinder to one another, read more books or listen to more music… too many things that are way out of my control haha.


How would you describe your style of art?

Creepy but hopeful, I have a knack for using black, but my subjects are not really angst or hopelessness.


Tell us about your background in art and how you got started in this industry.

I tried to be an architect, but in the second year of college I realized I didn’t like where I was, so I signed myself into an unknown two year career called digital illustration. After that I got lost again until I got hired for a newspaper that gave me financial stability to draw and experiment. After a few years I went freelance and my style became darker and more story driven. Chance has been a big part of my life and I’m pretty thankful to where it led me.


How have you developed your style over the years? 

I always thought I had no style, that it was my life goal to get one. Now when I look at old drawings, I see it was always with me, but in a sort of spiritual blind spot. 


What was your experience like when you were published for the first time?

I’ve been published a lot as an illustrator in things I’m not especially proud of, but it really helped me make a living and learn from the interaction with clients and their needs. What I’ve learned in all these years is that I’m not that flexible style wise and that I have a terrible time drawing happy families. The first time I got published the designer made some really strange choices (like putting a green gradient on top of my favorite piece) and I was way too young to stand up for myself.


What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken professionally that has paid off?

Like I said, I took too many jobs where I didn’t see myself fit, and instead of waiting for the perfect author, I wrote a story and won a fund to make my own book. It was a story about a kid and his relationship with nightmares. It was published in Chile, but I really understood that when a project comes from you, critics hurt a lot more and my skin wasn’t thick enough to listen to some. 


What are some of your most recent projects you have worked on?

I worked in a video game called Lost In Random for Zoink. I made Klaus Olov and Victor an illustrated book that even discovers hidden all around the world. The actual illustrations were made with pen and watercolors and shipped to Sweden, a dream job actually. 


You are an instructor at Domestika, can you tell us about that and what you teach?

Domestika made me discover that when you try to teach, you learn a lot about your trade—some things that you do mechanically and now you have to break them into pieces and show them to someone in the easiest way possible. The class made me realize the thing I consider myself best at is having ideas. The creation and sketch process of the piece is when you are totally free, you can finish it however you like, but a strong beginning really sets you up for success.


How important do you think the relationship is between author and illustrator?

It is important in a way that you must have similar vibes. In working for Lora Senf’s The Clackity, I discovered a friend and a true creative force behind her words, she is really a magician with characters, scenes and suspense. Although in most cases you don’t get to know the author, and you have to trust your gut that he/she/they is/are gonna like what you are doing.


Who are some of your favorite artists that you are following right now?

Too many to name, it’s a good thing though. My good friend Victoria Maderna is one of my main inspirations lately @vmaderna is her twitter/instagram handle.


How do you like to spend your free time when you aren’t working?

I think I have too many hobbies actually. I really enjoy reading books, playing guitar and having a drink with friends to talk about life.


What can we expect to see next from you?

Well I’ve been working on something for a long time and still is kinda far from seeing the light. But it feels like the right way to go after all this time. I’m gonna make the announcement in a month or two, super excited to share more about it.

Illustration by Alfredo Caceres featured in Rooster Magazine Santiago based illustrator Alfredo Caceres featured in Rooster Magazine Drawing of a deer playing a lute by Santiago illustrator Alfredo Caceres as featured in Rooster Magazine Spooky illustration by Alfredo Caceres featured in Rooster Magazine Dark illustration by Alfredo Caceres as featured in Rooster Magazine Rooster Magazine features brightly colored, creepy illustration by Alfredo Caceres Spirited Away inspired illustration by Alfredo Caceres in Rooster Magazine Cheerful drawing of a large song bird sitting atop a small village by Alfredo Caceres

Want to see more of Caceres’ work? Check him out on Instagram!