by Chloe Sun ‘24
Published Nov. 4th, 2021
With the new Spider-man movie releasing in theaters this December, I thought it’d be a good time to review the works of Alberto Mielgo, former Production Designer and Visual Consultant for 2018’s popular Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.
Born and raised in Spain, Mielgo is a Spanish director, artist, and animator whose work has brought him great recognition. He’s worked on projects including Gorillaz, Harry Potter, Tron: Uprising, Love Death + Robots, and, of course, Into the Spider-verse.
It’s not difficult to spot the traces of Mielgo’s handiwork in these films; he has a very distinct animation style which becomes especially clear after a study of his works.
Mielgo summarizes his style in 3 words: “graphic, but realistic”. The artist works upon the concept of impressionism, which is to capture whatever the eye can catch at a glance. Rather than stressing details, the overall visual and mood of the piece is given more importance.
While Mielgo still leans towards realism, it is done in a simplistic way that leaves room for graphic and expressive freedom. For instance, rather than rendering his character concepts, Mielgo prefers a mix of harsh, irregular shapes and only blends occasionally to contrast the softness of skin with roughly fashioned hair or clothing. Similarly, vibrant, complementary colors are often used to add dynamic to a piece while avoiding visual cacophony.
When asked why animation is his preferred format, Mielgo replied that it was because animation included all the arts: drawing, painting, writing, music, and storytelling. He is romantically enraptured and stubborn in the expression and abstract craft of art, much less its commercialization.
Particularly, Mielgo challenges the family-friendly stereotype of traditional animation, set in stone by large studios such as DreamWorks and Disney. Instead, the director uses animation as a way to explore more adult themes and intimate concepts, playing with visual elements to create atmospheric artworks in film form. Mielgo does not stray away from the morbid, as seen by his more personal works, “The Witness” and “The Windshield Wiper”. Instead, he embraces it as gateways toward further exploration of human emotions and fear.
While I may never be able to love macabre ambiguity like Mr. Mielgo, I adore his impressionistic yet realistic style of layering irregular shapes and bold colors. His visuals are simply one of a kind.
So, if any of you readers are interested in design or animations, make sure to give acclaimed director Alberto Mielgo a search.