Seeing the same old patterns over and over again can get as predictable as…well, as a pattern. So we decided it was time for a remix!

Santiago Sarquis (a.k.a Metalsan) gave us a fresh, clever spin on a pattern that we’ve seen so many times, it seems to fade right into the background (get it?). And Santiago turned this army-style design into an army of cute camo hugs.

We talked to this man of many styles about his design, next-level fanart, and his process. Check out his answers below, and be sure to check out his Artist Shop here!

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Tell us a little about yourself!

First of all, thank you so much for allowing me this space and for taking the time to ask me these questions. My name is Santiago, and I’m a 32-year-old illustrator from Venezuela. I like to watch TV, play video games, and eat burgers. My dream is to one day see one of my tees on The Flash. No pressure, ha!

Courtesy of Santiago’s Instagram

It looks like this is your first challenge win! Congratulations! Excited?

Oh yes, it is my first challenge win! When I received the email notification, I figured it would say something like “Aw, shucks. Your design was not fully funded,” but reading I was one of the winners made me so happy. Since it was an “all-over” design, I was pretty curious to find out the result; so I am pretty anxious.

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“Army of Hugs”

How did you come up with “Army of Hugs?”

Part of the challenge description was “Choose a classic pattern. Make it new” so I thought of one of the most recognizable patterns (military) and I started from there. I tried to do it in a way that from afar looks like just a military pattern but up close, the spots become alive. There is a particular baby spot that is my favorite.


What attracted you to this challenge?

For this challenge I had a special motivation: it is something different from what I usually do. An image has to repeat coherently and cover the complete area of the tee, and I think that’s so cool. I actually entered five designs and there were two more that I couldn’t finish because I ran out of time.


What’s your day job? Do you do art for a living?

Yes, I am a full-time freelance designer. Whenever possible, I try to use the mornings to do the simplest tasks, like look for references, check the mail and clean a little my PSD docs, that generally are a disaster with unnecessary layers and that kind of things.

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Courtesy of Santiago

Usually, the afternoons and nights are my creative peaks; so I try to draw in those hours, it is not strange to find me working at 2am.  

You have a few different styles and looks going on in your designs! How would you define your style? 

That is something I’ve been thinking a lot lately; I think I am versatile regarding style but I don’t know to what point that’s a good thing; for me, it is important that an artist have a style and personality that allows them to differentiate themselves from others which makes the “chameleon style” a dangerous zone. I try to make different things but always leave my mark.    

The Invaders Must Die” and “II XIV XVI

What inspires your designs?

A lot of things! The first 20 minutes of 2001 A Space Odyssey, Stephen King’s horror books and Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novels, and Thomas Newman’s soundtracks. Ohh God, I’m a freak!    

I love all the process gifs you make! How do you make them?

This question made my day– I thought no one watched them. I’ve watched process videos from artists and usually their works are good from the sketch and on. In my case, the beginnings of my designs look like kids’ drawings and in the process, I change my ideas and colors.gif-01

A lot of times things get worse before getting better…I think this “dirty” process can be useful to new designers. I really like to watch other’s processes and learn from their methods.

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Courtesy of Santiago

When creating a design I make about 100 screenshots and turn them into an animated gif using Photoshop. In some cases I add funny images from the Internet to not be so boring.

What medium do you use?

Gradually I have put aside the traditional techniques and I chose to do almost everything with a digital graphic tablet, mostly for speed.

For a while, I’ve been using a software called Manga Studio; it is very well focused for drawing and does not make me miss the benefits of pen and ink.

What’s your creative process?

I have a notepad where I sketch and write down ideas, and if I’m out and about, I use my cellphone to take notes. 

“La Perstistencia de la Memoria”

Recently, I uploaded a design for the Challenge #Cheers that came from an idea I had 13 months ago and finally developed. When I have a subject to work on, I use Wikipedia and Google images to look for information and references.

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Courtesy of Santiago

Some of your art is super realistic! Are you self-taught?

I studied Illustration in a design school, but I keep practicing and learning. I’m always following the work of great Threadless artists, and I try to study what makes them good and what I can apply to my own style.

Your fan art is stunning – what TV shows/movies inspire you?

Mostly from recent shows I’ve watched, I really like The Leftovers and Fargo; they are great series and sources of inspiration! I’m about to start the second season of Daredevil which looks very good!  

The last movie I really enjoyed was Mad Max: Fury Road. I look at each frame like a spectacular illustration. It is a must have.


Shop the Winning Design Here!

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Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.