Villarrubia was born in Madrid and first began his art studies at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. In 1981, he enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and earned his BFA in 1983. He later attended Towson State University, earning his MFA in 1986.
Villarrubia’s reputation grew in the field of photography particularly in the LGBTQ arts scene in New York during the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 2000s he began collaborating as an illustrator with graphic novelist Alan Moore, and they published several works together.
Villarrubia joined the faculty at MICA in 1998, and in 2010 rose to chair the Illustration Department. He continues his freelance work in the private sector in the fields of photography, illustration, and as a digital colorist for the comics industry. Villarrubia has worked for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Dark Horse Publishing.