Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I’ve always felt the need to communicate with others through images, and I’ve always enjoyed drawing and reading thrilling stories, but I didn't know you could make a living out of it until I entered college. When I discovered being an illustrator was an actual profession, I left the Telecommunications Engineering degree I was in and I started a degree in Graphic Design. Being able to explore the creative side of my personality through my work has become one of the most important things for me since that moment.
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
Some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most when I was a child are the series of The Little Vampire (Angela Sommer-Bodenburg) and Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling). There’s something about dark, mysterious stories that has always attracted me, and even now I'm still looking for these kind of books.
Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?
Right now there are many picture books that could be my favorites, but when I was a child I’d just read every Egyptian-themed book I had at home over and over. However, there’s an illustrator I used to love when I was at my parents’ country house, and I recently discovered who he was because I bought one of his books in a secondhand store. Then I went to the country house, and I noticed that same book was on the shelves, and even more by the same illustrator! That’s why it was so familiar to me. That illustrator was Errol Le Cain.
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
The first thing I do when I create a new illustration is a sketch using Procreate on my iPad. That helps me focus on the composition and resize/replace elements easily until I feel happy with the result. I used to make a small sketch and then a color test for each illustration, but now I’m more comfortable drawing a more refined sketch and just adding black and white shading to it.
Regarding color, when I started illustrating I used to create all of my illustrations using the pen tool before adding texture with brushes on Photoshop. Now I’m trying not to be that precise and bring more organic elements to my work, so I draw directly without using vectors. It gives me more control and makes me feel free, with the passage of time I’ve discovered that drawing directly with my hand is much more satisfying to me than using a mouse and a keyboard.
Do you keep a sketch book?
Yes! I’ve always had a sketch book because I enjoy the feeling of using traditional techniques and being able to explore new ways of working. I try to draw there as much as I can, specially when I’m in a creative block and I need to get new ideas quickly. I number each sketch book that I finish and now I’m going for the seventh.
Have you ever thought about trying out a different technique or a different style?
Definitely! The last project I made, which is a series called Dig & Discover, has helped me get rid of all my vector-based technique and develop a solid style made by hand.
Illustrating with vectors made me feel restricted, I enjoyed it for a while but now I’m really excited about this new phase. I’ve added more texture and line-work to my illustrations, and I hope to illustrate story-driven picture books using this new style.
What do you do in your spare time?
When I want to relax and disconnect I usually play electric guitar or piano. Music has played a vital role in my life since I was a teenager, I go to as many shows as I can, and it helps me focus on my work when I’m busy. I enjoy playing and listening to music in equal measure.
I also enjoy playing videogames, reading books and going skateboarding, which helps me go out of the studio and get fresh air.
Outline your dream project.
Nowadays my dream project would be to illustrate one of those dark, mysterious stories I’ve always enjoyed reading. It’s one of the reasons why I started illustrating, and I love the creative freedom you have when you let your imagination fly in a fiction setting. Currently I’m also writing and illustrating my own picture book, which I hope to reveal and get published soon.
What makes a good children’s book?
I would say that a great children’s book is one in which the images and the text are in perfect unison, so they work better together than if they’re separated. The illustrations from a children’s book must contribute to the content of the text, and not be too obvious or repeat exactly what you’re reading –that would be boring. Looking for that synergy is what makes the profession of the illustrator so interesting, and you can tell the difference when you read a book which combines texts and images smartly.