Againstbound AKA Hector Mansilla hails from Mexico and has been a regular here at Design By Humans since November 2007. His cool style and subtle detailing have made him a popular choice for many indie brands. Sticking to his own unique way of drawing and color schemes this artist has always stayed true to his own personal artistic style. His DBHCollective store has become very popular and his designs get more detailed and attractive with every new product. A strong member of the apparel design community, this artist is here for the duration and we couldn’t be happier. Let’s delve into the mind of this mysterious and talented designer with a round of questioning…
Introducing Againstbound: Color Master, Indie Artist and Videogame Nerd
Q: Hello Hector, tell us a little about your home country, your art and how you got to this stage in your career.
A: Hey there! I hail from Mexico, which is a federal republic in North America. Covering almost two million square kilometers (over 760,000 sq mi), Mexico is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent nation in the world! My art is the thing that’s kept me sane and functional throughout the past years, or at least partially so (yes, I do mean that). And I’ve sort of fumbled my way through most of my illustration career; but right now I can confidently say that I’ve gone from complete anonymity in the illustration world to near-complete anonymity, huzzah!
Q: You have been a member at DBH since 2007, tell us how you found the site and how it has helped you to grow as an artist.
A: I’ve been a huge fan of graphic shirts since I can remember, but they’ve always been hard to come by in my hometown; which accounts for me wearing almost exclusively plain black/white tees all through university (as opposed to the generic Hollisters, American Eagles, etc).
So a year or so after graduating and while working on a sh*t job for awful clients I thought I should just start drawing shirts somehow. And a quick google search led me to DBH and a few other comp sites, it was paradise, it was what I have been hoping for since I was wearing my Beavis and Butthead tees in elementary school.
It was also quite depressing, cause it made me realize just how f*#king awful I was at the whole design/illustration thing. But whatever, everyone starts awful, so I started working on my illustration skills during pretty much every minute of free time I had. And having all this competition from fellow designer/illustrators was fantastic, so much inspiration, challenge and support, and it’s great to call a bunch of them friends this many years later. So it’s safe to say that without DBH and all these comp sites led me to what I do now, and I’m not entirely sure what I would be doing otherwise, but it would probably suck. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still struggling to stay afloat, but it helps that I get paid in dollars and spend in pesos and at least I’m not ulcer-ridden from stress and hating myself (not that much, anyway).
Q: Now let’s discuss your art. Your work appears to be symbolic and constructed in a way that is unique, are you influenced by hieroglyphics and other symbolic works?
A: I think that’s definitely a source of what inspired me to add symbolism to my work in the first place. All the different alphabets they showed us in uni, not only Egyptian, but Chinese, Phoenician, Hebrew, etc.
But it probably comes from before that, I’m a big D&D geek (2nd edition fo’ life!) and I always liked all the symbols usually present in magical weapons, items and stuff. And I’m guessing video games also had their share in that somehow.
Q: Your work also has a very recognizable color pallet that makes your work seem warm and familiar, is this intentional?
A: You know, colors are probably the thing I’m best at when it comes to illustration (or maybe in general), it’s one of the few things I feel confident in saying, “F*#k yeah, I’m good at that sh*t”. And I think the familiarity comes from the quality consistency I try to have across my work in that regard at least, I think th at’s what make people think “Oh, look at the pretty colors on that piece, it’s probably from that Mexican a*#hole”.
And yes it is intentional, in the sense that I always try to work on my colors til I have the best possible combination I can have at the time. And you know what good colors really help with? Taking attention away for you otherwise lack of proper skills.
Q: Let’s delve into Againstbound the man. You have called yourself the Angry Mexican before and your profile picture suggests you are about to kill a man. Are you really that angry?
A: Haha, if you ask that to almost everyone I know they’ll probably answer a quick yes, and I’ve been told I seem scary on more than one occasion. And my friends call another friend and me “Good and Evil”, bet you can guess which is me, when I come by they say stuff like “Evil has arrived”.
But I don’t think that’s exactly right, more than perpetually angry I’d say I’m more of an excitable, forceful speaker and perhaps a bit more outspoken than it’s healthy to be, plus I tend to swear a lot. I do tend to go in these long-winded, angry rants about stuff that bothers me, and I can be quite the a#*hole, but it’s rarely ever uncalled for. While my rants and shouting might be a more memorable trait, I think it only accounts for a little bit of my daily life. Hell, if I was as angry as I’m made out to be (by others and myself) I probably wouldn’t have the friends I have.
Q: You have always stayed true to your artistic style. Has that been difficult and have you wanted to try more ‘popular’ styles of art?
A: Not so much styles, as I’m already pretty comfortable with doing things my way, plus I’d probably mess up trying to emulate someone else. But when it comes to themes I’d be lying if I said I’ve never considered the whole pop-culture thing. I know you’ve seen it, people drawing whatever’s trendy to cash in. Pop-culture mashups, “clever” takes on popular characters which could be compared to Stacy Malibu’s new hat, and that f*cking Tardis with whatever in it’s vicinity. And people go nuts for that sh*t, and it’s pretty much because they love the source material. Yes, some of these are done with excellent skills, but it’s still about the source material, stuff other people made and made popular. Not saying all pop culture designs are bad, but probably about 98.7% of them are lazy and uninspired and the time and work put into them could be used for better purposes. Hell, I’ve done a few myself, but never just about something that’s trending and I always try to give it a proper spin. And on the other hand you know how good it is when people love something you do and it’s not because you used someone else’s character they already love.
Q: What excites you when you are not designing?
A: Videogames! I mean, I also watch a lot of series, but I’m usually drawing when I do so that doesn’t quite count. But I do love videogames and play a whole lot of them, counting downloadable titles I probably have over 120 of them for my PS3, and I think I’ve beaten over 100, some more than once (Demon’s Souls 8 times, oh yeah).
Though this is also not 100% detached from my design work, as a lot of my work is inspired by videogames, even though I rarely ever directly reference any of them. And this has been present through most of my life, I remember drawing Megaman characters since I was 4-5.
Q: Tell us about the country you live in and how those surroundings influence your work.
A: Man, wish I could say otherwise but it sucks, it’s always sort of sucked but right now it really sucks. Corruption is on an all time high in the past 20 years, in everything that’s in any way related to the government. They just raised taxes that will help none of the people that need it. Organized crime is rampant, and I live in a part of the country that’s particularly bad in this. I could go deeper but it would just be a big downer, but trust me, it’s all pretty grim and I currently have no realistic hope of it improving.
As for how this influences my work, probably in me wanting to leave home as little as possible, which results in more drawing time.
Q: Your art has a considerable amount of nature based elements, is nature something you are drawn to?
A: You know I’ve never really thought about where it comes from, it might just be that it’s easier for me than drawing other stuff. But it could also be about my camping-heavy childhood. Up until I was 16-17 I went camping with my family on a regular basis, and for a few years we even had a cabin in the mountains, so all that bottled-up nature might be spilling onto my work all these years later.
Q: Which DBH shirt designer do you think will be the most successful in 2014? Who do you admire and which new artist do you think will take off?
A: Man, I’m bad at predicting things, and I’m not sure how new he is, but I just came across Tetsoo’s work recently and hot damn, it’s really incredible. I hope he has a great year in sales, cause he deserves it. And someone whom I’ve always admired is the almighty Sonmi, seriously, that girl’s work is amazing and always makes me hate myself. Not sure how active she’s there nowadays, though.
Q: Finally, if you had to pick one DBH T-shirt to wear for the rest of your life, which tee would it be and why?
A: Maaaaan, I don’t wanna choose, I have over 50 DBH tees, maybe over 70, and there’s a bunch that I like but don’t yet have. I’m just gonna give props to Sonmi again and go with her Unseeing one from years back that I still wear semi-regularly. I also have much love for Mikko Terva’s The Suspended.