It’s hard not to fall in love with Robert Sae-Heng’s illustrations. Cheerful, nostalgic, if a bit naive, his work employs both traditional and digital mediums. Though currently based in London, Sae-Heng very much draws from his Mexican and Thai origins.
“I spent most my childhood in Mexico in a small village in the state of Oaxaca chasing chickens, playing with pigs and my grandfather’s donkey ‘Jesus’ at the family home and running across the hills with my mother and sister for fun,” he fondly recalled in an interview with The Association of Illustrators. “We never had many books or toys when I was very young, 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.”
That imaginative play formed the basis of his work. “Drawing had always been my form of communication and something to come back to as a form of escape,” he admits. And if his work is a form of communication, people are clearly tuning in. With thousands of followers online, his work has been featured on billboards, magazines, and restaurant walls.
Inspired by the world around him, Sae-Heng says that it’s important for him to actually see how other people live. “A lot of my inspiration and ideas come from conversations or responses to my own thoughts/ feelings at the time,” he says.
Take a look at some of his work in the gallery below: