How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?
The last year of my degree in Fine Arts I took an illustration class and I really enjoyed it, but I was still very raw and insecure. Then I began to sell some illustrations in bookstores and exhibitions, and then I said “well, people seems to like what I do”. But, probably, what influenced me most was attending a workshop by Rebecca Dautremer. That opportunity changed everything, because after that I started to prepare my own portfolio, look for jobs as an illustrator and, after having illustrated a couple of books with different publishing houses, I finally looked for an agent. DEBORAH WOLFE LTD has really helped me to gain confidence in myself and look for and find my own style, and now I feel confortable and happy with my creations.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
My father loved to draw and he was a primary school teacher, so he spent a lot of time with me drawing, reading and showing me books. He had a good collection of Art History books and I remember myself, very small, trying to replicate pictures by Paul Klee and Picasso using my crayons. When I was a child, my mother also sent me to drawing classes after school, and we all used to go to exhibitions every time we had the opportunity.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I think my favorite medium to work is digital drawing. I always start with a rough sketch before cleaning up the drawing and then I use photoshop to color it. Using the tablet allows me to make changes easily if the client requests them. Also, if you have a deadline but you have to travel, you just put the laptop and the tablet into your backpack, and you are ready to enjoy!
Do you keep a sketch book?
Sure…well, I keep many. One for personal projects, another one for commissioned work and one more to explore new thoughts by drawing rough sketches and messy doodles, and writing ideas. But the ones I like the most are the sketchbooks I start when I travel. I reflect and record the places I have visited, the food that has surprised me, what I have learned and the fun facts that happened during the trip. I love to open these travel sketchbooks after a little while and remember all the fun I had at that time!
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
It really depends on the character. Sometimes it is so easy and I have a clear idea on how to draw a certain character, while other times I have to read, look for inspiration and create lots of small doodles to get an idea of how best to approach the story.
Share your favourite piece of artwork from your portfolio and walk us through its creation.
Perhaps is it this one, about Simone de Beauvoir. I think I have improved since then, it may not my best, but I have great memories of its creation and everything I learnt in the process.
Documentatiing all the ideas behind this particular piece of artwork was so intense. It was a project for a digital illustration class I took, focused in developing the concept and first chapter of a Graphic Novel. Creating scenes that followed a storyline was something I had never done before and it was the most challenging part for me.
Every week we had to develop different pieces of the assignment and make a presentation to defend the different steps taken during the creative process. That made me really focus on every decision I took when creating a scene or a character.
I especially liked having to develop the personality of the different characters and to look for examples of clothes of the 1920s and 1930s. I love to research clothes and fashion throughout history, it's so interesting!
Have you visited any schools to speak or hold workshops?
Yes, through some of the books I created, schools invited me to run workshops. It's a really great experience! I love to see how children talk about the story they’ve read and how teachers work with the books. Sometimes they even gave me copies of my drawings made by the kids! That was awesome!
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
Try new techniques, workshops are great to step beyond your confort zone. Believe in yourself and keep drawing. Draw, draw, draw… that is the key. Don’t forget that you are always learning.
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
I would love to work on more fantasy and fairy tale subjects, but I have to say that I also enjoy drawing kids doing funny things…I have realized that I draw a lot red haired kids. I think I always wanted to have red hair!
Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?
I feel very sorry for them, I would prefer them to live free in nature.