Cellular shapes and sea urchin-like bodies illuminate with glowing colors on a deep, black background—all crowded around one another, swimming and coexisting in the same space—in the work of Mexican designer Daniel Barreto. There's unparalleled beauty in the natural world, but the deeper you look, the more detailed designs you can discover. Barreto, to his credit, just wants you to appreciate that they're there.
"It seems to be taken for granted," the Guadalajara-born artist says. "I'm just trying to give it a space in the world as many artists had done before and also fill my own void. In other words, to contemplate nature, to make the viewer contemplate nature without aiming to create any kind of ecological statement." Using Adobe Photoshop, the designer took his old sketches of geometric elements and remade them in the digital realm, playing with patterns and repetition of design. The resulting illustrations use a modern art lens to look at the natural world around us.
Throughout his portfolio, his texturized designs often feature images of trees or leaves, hinting at his long love for Earthly representations. The graphic artist fell in love with nature at a young age, growing up in a family that owned a plant nursery and having a father who studied marine biology and in this latest four-piece collection, Imaginative Biology, takes that interest to a whole new, microscopic level.
Barreto has played with the idea of repetition before in his work with GIFs, but this time he aimed wanted to repeat patterns within the same layer and image, instead of moving them through a series of transforming designs. "Repetition happens again here with curves, lines and circles," he points out.
Design is vital to Barreto's work, the artist says. With art that examines the intricate patterns of the basic makeup within the natural world, being able to zoom into the depths of an image or mathematically determine a precise markup on a piece ensures that Barreto's imagery is as detailed as his biological subjects. Whether it's a symmetrical representation of a jellyfish-like creature or an in-depth depiction of cellular organelles, design gives him the ability to recreate an honest, yet artistic rendering of the image.
"Some artists, I believe, don't like design much or they take it as a word charged with a negative-commercial connotation. In my case, I believe it's essential for my art to have a connection with design," Barreto says. "My own meaning of art goes hand-in-hand with design. It helps me get to the point I want to without crossing the line that will make my work solely a design piece. More now, in these times that it seems there's no respect or congruence in anything. People are over the facts or the truth, and although art has always been held up as something not real or 'true,' I think it speaks of the truth in a humble way that does shape people individually and as a group."