ADC’s Illustration Month — or rather two Months — is a digital display of talent that features the many ADC Members who consider themselves to be illustrators, whether they’re professionals, students, or really keen amateurs who draw on the side of their day jobs. They all have at least two things in common: an ADC Membership and a heartfelt passion for drawing.
Next up: A Spanish ADC Member based in Amsterdam who has transformed his passion for illustration from an amusement to a fruitful career.
Just about every kid can draw, but not every kid is particularly gifted at it. Where did your childhood artistic inclinations come from?
As Toulouse-Lautrec would say “I have always been a pencil”. I couldn’t agree with him more; as far as I remember I’ve always been drawing. I did have support from my teachers and my parents. They weren’t strictly speaking artists, but in a sense they were sensible to art and creativity. I always had drawing materials at hand, galleries to visit, books to read, movies to watch and music to listen to.
“As Toulouse-Lautrec would say ‘I have always been a pencil’. I couldn’t agree with him more…”
When did you discover that “Hey, this could actually be a career”?
I didn’t! As I said, I have always drawn, but I worked in a creative field, helping brands and digital products. Illustration was just something that I did for my amusement. I was living in northern Spain at the time, and my illustrations appeared on a then-popular blog called drawn.ca. My friend Luis Mendo saw my work and he simply said “pack up and come to Amsterdam! It seems that you are having fun, but I bet you can also earn money doing it!” I’ll be forever grateful for that; he ignited my illustration career.
How would you describe your illustrative style? Do you fight against having a particular style, or do you embrace your style as your “brand”?
I do definitely have one particular style and I still feel that I have a lot of room to experiment and keep learning. After all of these years I feel that I’m only just starting to understand forms.
Walk us through your usual creative process.
For a commercial project, I would receive a brief, so everything is pretty straightforward; I receive the text and some directions from the AD, and then I start digging within the text, trying to find what the idea behind it is. Once I think I’ve captured that, I just sketch out different compositions. I then select the one I think could work and I send it over the AD. I don’t like to send different options to the client. I always go with one idea, and together with the client we iterate if necessary.
Tools of the trade: do you have any specific pens, pencils or other instruments that you swear by?
I love Midori notebooks and Palomino Blackwing pencils. I don’t have an answer as to why I specifically use them. I guess I have developed a sort of love story with them; after many years of using them they have become a part of my life.
What is the most challenging thing about a career in illustration?
Discovering that illustration goes beyond earning money, and realizing that a passion like drawing fulfills and gives sense to your life.
Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?
I don’t find being proud particularly helpful or exciting. I pursue different adjectives when it comes to my career.
“I don’t find being proud particularly helpful or exciting. I pursue different adjectives when it comes to my career.”
Cocktail party talk: how do you describe what you do to someone who isn’t in a creative field, and what’s the typical response you get from them?
I draw illustrations that help news/articles to be read, products to be consumed and stories to be lived. Normally everyone smiles at that.
Where do you seek out creative inspiration?
I love books, movies, music, comics, paintings — there are tons of cues to find in these disciplines. You might feel inspired by the freedom of a Godard movie, terribly moved by a Modigliani painting or haunted by a particular song, so it’s really the interaction between yourself and all these mediums that creates the necessary fuel for my inspiration.
I do have a rule though; I try not to judge and always respect the artists’ voice, even when they aren’t close to my understanding of the world or my sense of aesthetics. I consider art sacred and as fundamental to our species as water, air or money.
“I consider art sacred and as fundamental to our species as water, air or money.”
Which professional creatives do you look up to and why?
Many many many! There is an staggering amount of great illustrators, we live in an incredible time.
I love the warm and honesty of Ping Zhu’s and Eleni Kalorkoti’s work. The sophistication and style of Malika Favre. The wit of Jean Jullien, the bold imagination of Geoff McFetridge. The playfulness of Puño, the humor and economy of Robin Davey’s animated GIFs. The passion of Ricardo Cavolo.
At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?
Being in front of a blank piece of paper and living that very second before you start drawing, that is a sacred precious moment.
Illustration Month continues throughout January and February, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!