feature: meet brooklyn-based colombian illustrated jose berrio, see his nina simone project

February 8, 2016

Last week, I sat down (via email) with Brooklyn-based Colombian printmaker/graphic designer/illustrator Jose Berrio after seeing his tribute to Nina Simone. Learn more about the artist and check out his Nina Simone project.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

How do you describe yourself as an artist?
I like to see art in my life as the opportunity of learning more about myself (who I am and what are the things that really concern me) allowing me, as a result, of being able to express it to the world in a free and authentic way… Even though, as human beings we’re constantly changing, which I think is the main reason why art and creativity might always be guided by reinvention. How do you start a new project?
Although this depends on the type of project, no matter if it’s personal or a client inquiry, I always try to define a concept before starting the sketching process. For example, if it’s a music-related project, I like to start writing whatever comes to my mind while listening to the songs. Once I have something I think it’s good enough to work with, I do some rough pencil sketches (really rough, actually) to figure it out which would be the best way to develop the idea, before sitting in front of the computer or wherever the concept leads to. What periods of art and/or particular artists inspire you?
Speaking in general, I love Baroque paintings, Renaissance, Impressionism, Byzantine Tapestry, etc. However, as a graphic designer and poster design lover, I’ve always found really inspiring, movements like Art Nouveau, Italian Futurism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, Conceptual Art / Minimalism, Swiss Posters, German Expressionism, and pretty much everything related with african and asian textile art. Regarding particular artists/musicians/designers who have inspired me at some point of my life, the ones that come to my mind at the moment are Alain Le Quernec, Henri Toulouse–Lautrec, David Bowie, Storm Thorgeson, Peter Saville, Milton Glaser, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Kandinski, Stefan Sagmeister, Leif Podhajsky, Sophie Calle, Nina Simone, among others. Why Nina Simone? What materials did you use to make the print and gif? Although I’ve always liked her music, the reason I ended up doing this image was because 3 years ago, a website called “Creative Allies” threw a poster design competition regarding Nina Simone and her legacy. In the end I didn’t win (like in most of the contests I’ve participated in my life), but it definitely was a fun thing to do, besides the fact I got to know much more about her while doing it.
As for the materials I used, the illustration is mainly digital, it was made in Illustrator and Photoshop using as a reference a picture of her and images of traditional african textiles. The screen-printing was made by Aichh, a printmaking service based in Bogotá. The pictures documenting the printmaking process where shot by Daniel Gómez. Finally, for the gif making, I used a couple of screenshots I saved during the design process and animate them on Photoshop.

Photos by: Daniel Gómez

*Erin White is AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at