Claudia Tenorio Pearl
Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
When I was a very young girl, I did not know it by its correct name, but I was already fascinated by the world of illustration. I remember my older sister and I drawing for hours, creating fashion ‘magazines’, books, sketches, and even comics.
There was a special room in the house where I grew up that we all called the “Drawing Room”, which had a big round table in the centre and many types of books on one of the walls. These were children’s books, Renaissance books, art-history books,etc. In that room we also had a closet where mum would always stock for us piles of paper in different colors, notebooks, markers, crayons, pencils, erasers, a loud and noisy electric sharpener, etc… So she put all the material there that we would need to ‘create’.
As a teenager, I discovered illustration was actually a career, and right then, I knew I would study something related to art.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I started my studies in Puebla, Mexico, but finished my bachelor degree on Graphic Design from the Reading College in Berkshire, England. I believe it was a positive experience to have access to the institutions from both countries as their art is so different. In my opinion, it was a very rich training. I also remember that all projects I did during my university days had to have some sort of illustration; that was my stamp. As a final project, I decided to make a 3D children’s book and it was very popular among my professors.
Sometime after I finished university, I took a Children’s Illustration Diploma Course at the London Art College.
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
Currently, I live in the beautiful German countryside close to Dresden where I get to experience all the seasons and its beautiful colors. As for where I grew up, I was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
Yes. Creativity was always part of my childhood. My siblings and I would tape audio mini-series on our tape-recorder, making different voices and sound effects with anything at hand. Sometimes we had a director and a sibling on charge of the script, and other times, we just rolled with whatever we had and then had a great laugh with our parents, listening to our recordings. We also had singing, dancing and illustration competitions amongst us, and of course, illustration was one of my strongest skills.
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
I got my very first commission as a professional illustrator right after I attended, for the first time, the Bologna Book Fair. I was given the opportunity to create a series of postcards for Maverick Publishing. It was a pleasant and exciting experience to work on that project.
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
I have always worked with traditional techniques. Using acrylics has always been my favourite method. However, just three years ago I decided to try Digital. Now, I absolutely love Digital as my hands and my table do not get stained anymore, and it is way easier to make the changes. I truly believe it is important to evolve and Digital is an indispensable tool for today’s illustrators to learn. One can work faster, easier and the variety of brushes to use is excellent. I love illustrating, and Digital makes it even more enjoyable.
Do you keep a sketch book?
Sketch books are very practical. I always have one at hand in my pocket. For me, it is as basic as carrying your mobile around. For instance, when you want to take a photo of something special, your phone is the quickest tool. For me, the sketch book is almost the same: when I get a picture in my mind, it is easier for me to pull out the sketch book, make a rapid sketch of it and then perfect it later. I owe that valuable idea to one of my professors in university.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
Generally, it does not take too long for me to create a character. Of course, there are days when imagination is abundant, and other days when I need music or to have a walk with my dog to find some inspiration. I hope I don’t jinx it by saying this, but so far, the creative days are greater than the bad ones.
Which project has been most instrumental in developing your personal style?
A couple years ago I worked on a book called: “No, No, Elizabeth” which received rewards and lots of exposure and I really enjoyed its creative process. I believe this book helped me in developing a more personal style and I was able to have a clearer idea of what readers like and what it is that they look for.
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
During the last months or weeks that I have been working on projects, I really enjoy every part of the process. Work environment is key, and I am lucky to work with such positive, encouraging people. It does not get old: it always is very exciting receiving the creative brief and starting the creation of illustration. Now that I think about it, I think I still get as thrilled with every project as I did with my very first one. It is a never ending magic for me, as I really enjoy what I do.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love outdoor activities such as walking the dog in the woods, going for a big hike, or strolling with my family. As well, I enjoy travelling and seeing new places, visiting museums, or spending time at home enjoying a family dinner, watching movies or series.
Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
Watching everything around me is very inspiring to create characters; for instance, watching very young kids at the park, or having a quick glimpse of little animals crossing the trails in front of us when we go for a hike, or nature in general.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
“Work on your craft”.