When it comes to his creative upbringing, imagination had always played a huge role for illustrator Robert Sae-Heng. Raised in a small village in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, he recalls chasing chickens, playing with pigs and his grandfather’s donkey at the family home, and running across the hills.
“We never had many books or toys when I was very young,” he shared in an interview with The Association of Illustrators, “so I feel these different experiences fuelled and opened up my imagination and in turn gave my work that sense of playful narrative and mystery, which is often based on real-life observations.”
Now based in London, his illustrations still have this air of mystery and play about them, making them naively charming — the sort of feeling you might, too, recall from your childhood. His work is also very much inspired and informed by his travels around the world, as he makes sure to document his experiences in his sketchbooks. “I truly believe traveling broadens the mind,” says Sae-Heng. “On my travels, I filled up sketchbooks with location drawings, thoughts at the time and documented stories from other people I’ve met along the way. Something like a diary.”
With human experience very much at the base of what he draws, his work serves as a form of communication – a bridge that closes the gap between artist and audience. “It’s important to see how other people live and a lot of my inspiration and ideas come from conversations or responses to my own thoughts/ feelings at the time,” he notes
“Drawing had always been my form of communication and something to come back to as a form of escape.” Follow his illustrated observations via Instagram.