The Block

Art & Culture — 2 years ago

Becoming An Artist With Humberto Cruz

San Diego-based illustrator, digital designer and creative artist Humberto Cruz, shares the story behind I Scream Colour and his journey as an artist.


Capturing the attention of 147,000 followers on Instagram, Humberto’s uplifting and colourful work combines digital media, smudged lines, crayon colours and spray paint to reflect the joyful spirit sometimes lacking in our reality.


Humberto began selling T-shirts with his printed designs on Everpress in 2020. This successful endeavour allowed his freelance career to begin and gave him the freedom to start creating full-time. In this interview, Humberto sits down with us to talk about his journey as an artist, his creative inspiration and the future of I Scream Colour.


Check out Humerto’s collection of Tees with us here.

Everpress Team
Courtesy of Humberto Cruz

How did you get started as a creator/designer/artist?

Humberto Cruz: I started drawing as a kid and I always knew I wanted to be an artist. So I studied graphic design in San Diego and I finished college back in 2007. During that time, there was a recession in the US, in that world I struggled a lot finding a full time job. I had the opportunity to do some freelance work, but it wasn’t enough to survive, so I had to keep my job in a grocery store that I’d had since high school. 

I started to doubt myself. I was like, “oh, maybe I should change careers, because I’m not gonna have any opportunities as an artist.” Then social media came, I started posting every day on Instagram and built a following. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 or 11 years, and it’s been fun!

I want people to see a message in my work and relate to it

What are the main sources of inspiration for your work? 

HB: I’m very inspired by what I used to draw as a child, I used to doodle all the time. I have more fun when I’m drawing what I want and don’t worry about making mistakes.  I’m also inspired by pop culture, fashion and nostalgia.  Pop art plays a big influence in my work and I admire the work of Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama and Andy Warhol.   

In saying this, I do feel like my style has changed a lot since I started posting on Instagram. When I first started, I was more inspired by celebrities and pop culture in general. While I still feel inspired by that kind of work now, I am more focused on the fact I want people to see a message in my work and relate to it.

Courtesy of Humberto Cruz

What tips do you have for young creators who are starting out their careers? How can they develop their skills?

HB: Do not listen to your art teachers. Do your own research and find your own art style. You can develop your skills by practicing every day. That will keep you inspired.

Draw whatever you feel like drawing

I feel like, at school, I just learned the basics. When you go to school teachers want to teach you a certain way, they want you to design in a certain way. And they try to tell you, “Oh, this is not gonna work in the real world.” Once I finished school, I feel like I had to start over. I had to rediscover who I was as an artist after college.

Draw whatever you feel like drawing, don’t listen to others and just be yourself. I personally don’t like to plan what I’m going to draw, I just like to draw whatever I’m feeling at the moment and I don’t care about making mistakes.

Tell us about your favourite medium?

HB: It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I enjoy working digitally on my iPad and sometimes drawing on paper with markers, pastels, acrylics and colour pencils. I also like to experiment with spray paint.

I think I’ve always been very colourful. But I’m doing more digital work now than previously. I like to mix digital with paper, markers and other media, and it’s different every time. I think that’s how I stay inspired, the balance means I don’t get bored.

Courtesy of Humberto Cruz

What motivates you to create?

HB: Since COVID, like everyone, I spent a lot of time at home. And listening to the news, you know, it was too much for me. So I just started to focus more on being positive, like writing positive messages. And I think doing that also helped me to not feel too anxious. I started posting those kinds of messages, and people seemed to like them and they felt like connected to the message. So that’s what I’ve been doing since then.

Even before COVID, being creative every day became a habit for me because it helped me deal with my anxiety. When I had my full time job at a grocery store, and I was also doing my freelance work on the side, it was too much work for me. I took some therapy, but for me personally, I just feel like it didn’t work. So I started drawing more and this helped me to focus more on the positive side of life. Creating new art every day keeps me inspired.  It feels like therapy in a way, it makes me feel happy.

When do you feel like your personal style evolved, and how?

HB: Around four years ago, I was dealing with a lot of stress and I wasn’t very happy with what I was creating – I think that triggered my anxiety more.  I decided to slowly change my lifestyle, going to the gym, giving myself more time to breathe fresh air, simple things like that! I just started drawing the way I wanted to draw.  Not following rules and not listening to others.  That’s where I am now, and it feels good to be myself.

I rarely show the process behind my work on my Instagram. I only show the finished artwork. But you know, there’s always a story behind all these drawings and pieces.

Courtesy of Humberto Cruz

How do you define success as an artist?

HB: I was thinking about that question a lot. I feel like as an artist, you never feel success and it’s so hard to describe success. Because we’re always creating. And we’re trying to evolve into more of an artist.

I believe an artist can be successful without pleasing others’ expectations. Success for an artist can be just showing his work to the world, to be seen or heard.

I feel like as an artist, you never feel success

How does art and design impact other areas of your life and vice versa?

HB: Probably finding inspiration and looking for new ideas everywhere I go. I’m always thinking of what I’m creating next.  

Wherever I go, I just find a way to stay connected and get new ideas – whether that’s a billboard or anything else! Looking at your phone all the time is tiring. You need to get out and look at other stuff.

What’s your favourite design you’ve created?

HB: I started doing spray paint drawings last summer, and they were really fun to do.

You have to work outside with spray paint because the smell is so strong, so now it’s summer again, hopefully I can do more!

Courtesy of Humberto Cruz

Who are your dream artists/designers/brands to collaborate with?

HB: A dream collaboration would be working on a music related project.  Probably designing an album cover, or merch.  Music inspires me a lot!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

HB: Doing the same thing, I hope! I just want to keep making art and work on bigger pieces.  I also want to grow my brand – I Scream Colour. I’d love to expand my website and sell more. I’m even thinking of creating a colouring book, and some other things like that- I think that will be fun. 

I would also like to see myself working in a bigger studio so I can draw on bigger canvases and experiment more. I love to experiment with spray paint, so yeah, I need a bigger studio for that. I’d also ideally still be living in San Diego, ‘cause yeah, I like it here.

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