The power of social media knows no bounds, especially Instagram. Daily, I scroll through my feed, usually finding some new brand, an emerging musician, sometimes a graphic artist. That is the beauty of Instagram. The visual-sharing app gives us the opportunity to follow those who inspire us, as well as promote our own brands, personal and professional. An Instagram account can act at the modern portfolio, showcasing one’s work in a perfect geometrical square block feed. Direct messages allow us to hold a conversation across the globe, and the business profile applications allow for further exposure and promotion.
One artist who has taken full advantage of this is Octavio Platon Akel, better known by his Instagram handle @MonsieurSaturday. The Ecuadorian based graphic artist has used Instagram to create a unique brand focusing on the lower half of people’s outfits. Odd? Maybe, but Akel firmly believes style has a direct correlation with footwear.
While also doing commission work, Akel illustrates some of streetwear’s sharpest dressers, including Grailed’s Brand Director Lawrence Schlossman, the Wall Street Journal’s fashion editor Jacob Gallagher and even Highsnobiety’s editorial director Jian DeLeon. Precision is a staple for Octavio, and it shows through the excruciating detail he puts into each illustration. Each thread, no matter the size, is included with great detail.
I had the chance to talk with Akel about how he got started illustrating, his connection to streetwear and how he utilizes Instagram.
How would you sum up the Monsieur Saturday brand?
Monsieur Saturday is my version of “street style”—on Instagram not the street.
How did the name come about?
It started with me only posting on Saturdays, and it was this character having all activities that I would be doing on a Saturday, which was basically my only free time. From there I changed the whole idea behind it, but I kept the name. I started to follow more buyers, community managers, marketing directors, and creative directors that all worked in the fashion industry, and I wanted to be a part of that, so that’s how I started to illustrate them and contacting them about their illustration.
What got you started with your artistic work?
I have always been in touch with my creative side, always drawing, always being inspired by art. I was definitely influenced by NYC street style when I would vacation there every summer, but what really got me into illustration was the work of French artist SO-ME. The way he mixed colors on every illustration.
Where are you based out of? Is graphic designing your main job?
I actually work in something completely different. I work in the agriculture/aquaculture business managing shrimp farms for my wife’s family. I am based out of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Thank god for the internet!
Wow! So then was Instagram always the outlet you wanted to use to show off your work?
Definitely. I have used Instagram mostly to launch my brand. I have used every single tool they have. Direct message to contact, tagging brands for recognition and posting.
How does being connected through Instagram benefit you as an artist?
It’s a showcase/display of my best work, very straightforward: what you see is what you get. The rapid response that you get on Instagram beats that of an email. A clear example is how I started drawing fashion “it girls” and soon after, everyone wanted their own.
Was there a moment when you realized that you had something going with Monsieur Saturday?
Summer 2017 when Barneys New York contacted me to illustrate one of their journal posts, and then it was Nike for the News page, and Net a Porter/Mr Porter for their Holiday cards.
How do you choose what to cover and create?
Before I did commission work, I would post people that had incredible style, that caught my attention. Now that the posts are mixed, influenced and commissioned, it has expanded my line of work to include animals and children in the posts. As you can see on my IG page, I have drawn people with millions of followers to someone with 100 followers.
Walk me through how you create your pieces.
It starts with a picture. The person sends me a pic of their fit (from below the knee). That’s the only request I ask from my clients. I really try to recreate the exact product that they are wearing covering all details.
Why just the bottom half of someone and their outfit?
I think that a person’s style is defined primarily by their shoes. Sometimes you already know whats happening with just a look at the shoes. Isn’t that what a sneaker head would say, or maybe an uptown fashion connoisseur?
Any particular favorites you have?
I am proud of all my drawings, but one of my favorites are the Acronym Vapor Max for John Mayer, and also the Prada canvas sneakers for Christopher Green (Totokaelo).
Have you found other people copying or mimicking your work? If so how does that that you feel?
I have nothing but appreciation for people who are inspired by my work, but there was this case where it was the exact same thing that I was doing, and you could tell it was not inspired, but a direct copy. Diet Prada helped me exposing the case, and that person later apologized.
What other artists could you compare to your work? If so, who and why.
I think that my drawing style is really inspired and marked by artists like Darcel Disappoints (@dourdarcel) and Rami Niemi (@raminiemithatillustrator). How they use colors, how they illustrate existing products, trends, fashion as part of their illustrations. That’s what I wanted. Probably in ten years I will look at the illustrations I have done and ask myself why was someone wearing those huge chunky dad sneakers?
How does brand work differ from your personal projects?
Personal projects are more of the style and how they wore sneakers and how they styled. Most of my works for brand have been for social media and for catalogs so it is more detailed information of the product with my drawing style. Like a catalog I did for Bonobos last holiday was all about their service and how I interpreted their ideas of each service.
Any big collaborations or projects in the future?
Still waiting for a Nike store to let me draw a whole wall.