21 Jun 2018
Keeping on with our interview series, we are bringing you today one of the most outstanding illustrators in Spain: David de Ramón. As in our last interview, we met David after his talk on the last edition of Ilustrasal. David has lots of experience illustrating for publicity, publishing, press, magazines, festivals, or album covers. And even more, he works in all this fields keeping a very unique and personal style. We talked with him about this and more stuff, we hope you enjoy the interview!
Tell us a bit about yourself: how did you end in the illustration and design world?
Well, I think that it was more about "beginning" and "keeping in", because I didn't end in that world: it's the only thing I'ever done professionally!
I always wanted to work on illustration. I loved reading comics, and I always admired the artist's techniques. The more "pictorial" they were, the more I admired them (Bilal, Kent Williams, Sienkiewicz).
I used to decide which comic, book, magazine, or music albums to buy just watching their covers. I have bought some music albums from bands which I wasn't interested at all, but had beautiful cover art. Cover art had the ability to make me dream of the story I was about to read or the music I was about to listen to, they allowed me to enjoy the experience even before opening the product itself.
That kind of fascination and the joy of drawing always came hand by hand, and working in illustration was something very natural to me.
How is your process? Do you mix analog and digital tools?
My process always begins in my head, even before getting to pencil and paper. I almost never begin doodling without a clear idea of what I would like to do. Mine is a bit more meditated process, and then I try to make things happen on the sketchbook: which composition can be more interesting, how can I make things as simple as possible, etc.
When I have made a sketch that I think may work, I sometimes do a more detailed drawing of it (if I have to show the idea to clients), or rather scan it and begin digital painting over it.
Sometimes, that early stage can be a mixture of traditional and digital: I scan that early sketches, change dimensions and composition in the computer, print it and use that as basis for a new drawing.
When the pencil and paper stage is done, the rest of the work is entirely digital. All color work is digital, although I try not to show it much. I like things to seem "hand-made" even in digital illustration. That's why my technique is very painting-like, and I try to avoid filters, gradients or any tool that makes the result feel less natural.
You work mainly for advertising and publishing. How are these worlds? What qualities does a client and project need for you to feel comfortable and motivated?
Every project is different. The main variables at play are budget, creative freedom, and time.
In advertising, budgets are bigger, as our work is useful for obvious commercial purpouses. We need to make images to attract people to products or brands. Art Direction is usually more strict, and a lot of people are deciding on the creative side of the agency and the client. Deadlines are way more tighter, because all the filters your work has to go through.
In editorial and publishing work we have more creative freedom, because our image is "opinion", not just a simple translation of text to images. Budgets are lower, but deadlines are not that tighter, except in newspapers, where things are even more fast than in advertising. In my experience, the more comfortable deadlines in the publishing world are in books, somewhat less in magazines, and a lot less comfortable in paper press.
That being said, everything can happen: corporative magazines with a very clear line of things they need, or advertising campaigns that seek your way of seeing things, and give you total creative freedom (but few are like that!).
But money-wise, things are always like that. It's more difficult to get bigger budgets on editorial work that in advertising, at least in Spain. Editing firms abroad usually have reasonable budgets.
To feel motivated with a project, I just need to let be free to work most of the times. I need the client to understand my work and not micro-manage me. The best projects are the ones where I work knowing the client really trusts me.
Do you think it's important for an artist to find a well-defined and unique style, or it's better to be versatile? Is it possible to find an equilibrium between these two?
There are people who enjoy being versatile and fitting in any kind of project. There's no flawless approach to this work, but my personal attitude is totally opposed to that. I try to feed my own creative, artistic needs through my work, so having my own style (or rather, my way of doing and thiking) is key.
It's not just a job to me. I try to get personally fulfilled with what I do, aside from the communication or commercial goals of the project. Seeing things this way, I think it's inevitable to have that "well-defined" style. It's something that comes naturally, bit by bit.
Where do you find inspiration for your work, and how do you melt your sources of inspiration to create your own way of art?
I get influenced by everything surrounding me. Personal relationships, movies, books, travels. And, of course, other artists, illustrators, photographers, etc.
I'm very fond for images and events from the first half of the 20th century. It's a wonderful time, very active and kind of innocent in posters, travel photography or spectacles. But, as I said before, everything we live sneaks into what we do.
And last, but not least: any advice for aspiring illustrators just starting up their careers?
There's always a lot to learn, no matter if you are beginning or you've been years into this profession. If you are passionate about what you do, you'll have no problem to spend all the time needed, and it's going to be a lot of time! You only improve by work and curiosity.
You've got to be constantly learning from masters and manage that frustation when you think you'll never be that good. You've got to transform that frustation into something positive that makes you want to improve.
Awards or followers are worthless if we are not fulfilled with what we do. When we enjoy our work, is when we begin to do it right.
Thanks a lot, David!
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