As a child, Dhani Barragán started drawing and never looked back. From tracing cartoons in school to studying at university, he made a decision to not to sacrifice his passion for a more “stable job”. He now creates art as a “critical message” to reimagine the symbolism of recognizable cartoons and characters in pop culture. 


What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Make breakfast for my son.


The last thing you ate?

Tagliatelle carbonara.


The strangest dream you’ve ever had?

I almost never remember what I dream about.


Favorite cartoon?

Dragon Ball.


The last show you binge-watched?

I watched the movie “Talk to me” by the Philippou brothers several times in a row.


What is the best advice you have received?

A university professor told me that it was not enough to spend many hours drawing, you have to go out there, read, cry, laugh, have important experiences and with them have stories to tell when we draw.


Where did you grow up and where do you currently reside?

Born and raised in Seville, Spain, I still reside here currently.


Can you tell us a little about your background and how you started as an artist?

I was always a child who loved to draw, I suppose like almost all of us who now dedicate ourselves to this. At school I copied Spiderman comics or traced photocopies of Dragon Ball. Much of the time I preferred to be drawing rather than playing, sometimes even my cousins or friends got bored of being with me. Over time I realized that that was what I really liked, and I decided not to sacrifice my passion for a more stable job, so I went to study art at university. There everything went further and I really met artists who continue to inspire me to this day. When I finished my studies I decided to dedicate myself to it almost 100%, exhibiting in some small galleries that gave me the opportunity and working in jobs that didn’t take up too much of my time to paint. Luckily, my work caught the attention of some galleries and little by little I became known outside of Spain as well. In 2018 I met my friends from Art Toy Gama, and working with them opened the doors for me to do exhibitions in Thailand or Indonesia, making my work much more visible and international.


How would you describe your art style/genre in your own words?

What I do is manipulate pop characters, from turning them into stuffed animals to using them as clothes on other ones. I like to use them sometimes as if they were animals in a real world in which humans use them for everything, from food to clothing, and use them as a critical message and also remove that “idol” image that these characters have.


Many of the subjects you paint are recognizable cartoons from pop culture, what is it about these characters that fascinates you and makes you want to recreate them?

Apart from having grown up watching them on TV or playing with toys of those characters, I consider that they are the new symbology, a universal language that is understood anywhere in the world. For example, if I draw Mr Burns from The Simpsons, people know that he is someone with a lot of money and without many friends. I don’t like the elitism of art created only for a specific group of “experts”, I want my work to reach anyone without having to explain a complex discourse.


Who are some of your favorite artists that you draw inspiration from?

My favorite artists are Craola, James Jean, Cote Escriva, Gondek, Pose MSK, Mark Ryden and Dulk.


What are some of the things you can’t work without?

A movie or music in the background, and a coffee.


What time of day do you feel most creatively productive?

In the morning, after breakfast.


Do you have any unusual painting rituals or habits that you think enhance your creative process?

I have a small obsession with making the paint colors completely uniform and many times, even seeing them quite well, I continue applying a few more layers of paint. Sometimes they are unnecessary, but this habit definitely helps the final result improve.


What are some other hobbies you enjoy in your free time?

I like to read, I love Stephen King, building Lego, cooking and I am slowly starting to practice carpentry.


What would you like to do more of this year?

I’m starting to create my own canvases. I like the feeling of buying the wood, making the canvas, priming, painting…. Doing the complete creative process creates a special bond for me with the work I do. I would like this year to have enough time to continue with it.


Any upcoming projects you can tell us about that we can look forward to?

I have been working for a few years in a small universe in which all the stories of my most personal paintings coexist and relate to each other. I have planned the way in which I am going to expand this universe and one of them is going to be by making a series of collectible cards that will also explain each character in more detail. I really want this to come to light.