We remember the life and work of the Brazilian illustrator and teacher, who died at the age of 30
Domestika deeply regrets the passing of Willian Santiago, a Brazilian illustrator, teacher, and member of our creative community. The artist's agent has announced his death.
His strong artistic instincts are expressed through the work that he made, characterized by the combination of simple shapes and vibrant, uniquely Brazilian colors. Willian was primarily a digital artist, but he gave his work an artisanal and analog touch by digitizing old papers or mark making with chalk and splashed of ink.
Known for his work, full of vibrant colors, organic brushstrokes, simple shapes, and natural textures, his work is a tribute to Brazil and a testament to the creative universe that he created.
Willian was born in Londrina, Paraná and graduated from the city’s state university, UEL. He initially worked in branding focused on the fashion industry.
In 2014 he opened his own illustration studio and began collaborating with major brands such as Itaú, Natura, Sesc, Nestlé, Farm, L'Occitane, and Havaianas, among others.
At the same time, he also illustrated several magazine and book covers, winning the 2017 Prêmio Jabuti for his work on Kidbook.
Most recently, he worked on A Visão das Plantas, a novel by Angolan Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida published by Todavia publishing house.
In addition, Willian had a unique and personal style which he defined as “a colorful and playful universe full of what it means to be Brazilian,” creating a fantasy world that garnered him more than 70 thousand followers on Instagram.
There you can clearly see the major themes of his work, such as his love for plants - which he considered mystical and used "whenever he could" - as well as the strength of female figures who he greatly admired:
"I grew up surrounded by strong women and that inspired my work."
Once, in an interview, Willian said that he wanted his work to "create feelings of joy."
In this respect, he could not have been more successful. He and his work, which represent a celebration of beauty, simplicity, and imaginative detail, will never be forgotten.
"I love to explore. It may be the stage that I spend most of my time on when creating an illustration. Color evokes different feelings in people. Ultimately, I want my work to generate feelings of joy."
Willian Santiago always loved drawing, but it was only through the power of the Internet that he was able to establish himself as a professional illustrator and begin to have his work published in France, South Africa, Italy, the United States, and South Korea, among other countries.
"I have been drawing since I was a child, when I would easily exchange any toy for crayons. Although I always liked drawing, I never imagined that I would do it as a job, I didn’t even believe there was the possibility of working in something related to drawing. It is a privilege to be able to support myself with illustration. And all of this while living in a country town.
Willian’s success never prevented him from remaining humble and generous when it came to sharing his knowledge with other young illustrators, or from giving credit to those artists who influenced his work.
One of those influences was Heitor dos Prazeres, born in 1898, an illustrator and pioneer in samba who painted the bohemian Rio de Janeiro and captured his community in a naïf style full of color. This spirit was something that William also embraced in his work... and in his life.
"I like to explore vibrant colors, play with palettes, and explore the Brazilian in my compositions. It's a privilege to work with something that involves the word 'art'. It's amazing to be able to inspire young people who are starting out in illustration and to be able to help them in some way. Together, we continue drawing and coloring the world."
We would like to share our deepest condolences with Willian’s family and friends. His artistic talent, full of inspiration, color, and joy, will continue to live on in all the members of the Domestika community.