Thursday, 3 August 2017

Five Minutes with....Brenda Figueroa!

Today we hear a little from PP artist Brenda Figueroa as she talks techniques, her journey into the world of illustration and what she loves most about her profession from her home in Madrid. As well as advice for all you aspiring illustrators! 

Where do you live/work?

I live in Getafe, a city in the south of Madrid (which is 15 minutes away by train or by car). My studio is at home, a flat from the 1970s.

What do you like about working there?

My studio is a room full of books, sketchbooks, and pictures on the wall that inspire me. Also, while I work I can basically listen to any kind of music that I want, which may vary from 60s French music, to rock, or movies soundtracks –and Christmas carols in November and December-. Like many fellow artists I think it’s a privilege to work from home, because it makes easier to balance between work and private life.





What do you love most about being an illustrator?

That is a job that I actually enjoy, and makes me able to express my inner world through shapes and colors.



How do you work – what are your techniques?

It depends on the project; I can work with traditional techniques -mostly with color pencils, gouache, watercolor and sometimes cut paper-, or digitally. I find working with color pencils very relaxing and I love adding layers and textures on my drawings. When I work digitally I always sketch on my sketchbook first, I think this is one of the most important steps, and then scan and redraw and colour either on Illustrator or Photoshop.




What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

I love drawing kids, and animals. When the assignment allows it, I love drawing little cute secondary animals on a scene (such as mice, squirrels, frogs, fish…), doing something funny or not necessarily related to the script. I also love drawing patterns, and Christmas motifs.



What or who are you most inspired by?

I have a passion for color, so I like watching around me and be amazed by the wonderful color palettes that I may find in nature, or even in the daily urban life. I like seeing for example, the fruit and vegetable stands, a row of yarn, pencils or art supplies ordered by shades, that’s a real eye candy for me!. I also enjoy seeing pictures on Instagram, especially from wild life photographers and foodies’ accounts (yes! There are some really amazing artists that make gorgeous pictures of fruits, salads, desserts, drinks…). And of course, I find inspiration in illustrated books, cartoons and good music.





Do you have a favourite illustrator?

I have lots of artists that I admire! To name a few: Beatrix Potter, Richard Scarry, Judith Kerr, Mary Blair, Janosch, Rotraut-Susanne Berner, Rébecca Dautremer, Benjamin Chaud, Marc Boutavant, and I really like some comic artists such as Quino, Schulz, Bill Waterson…

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

I enjoy reading, watching movies, learning new languages, cooking, making handicrafts, and traveling!  

How did you get into illustration?

My love for illustration started when I was a child, and I used to watch my dad working on his drawing table doing illustrations for different freelance packaging or lettering projects; he didn’t really work as an illustrator but as a technical architect. I’m grateful I’ve inherited his talent, though I wish I were half as good as he was with the brush!  When I went to college I studied graphic design, because in the early 2000s it was the closest thing to illustration in my country of origin (El Salvador). But two years after finishing college and working as a graphic designer, I got a temporary job as a language assistant in France (where I lived for almost a year and I discovered that illustration was a recognized profession). Then I moved to Spain, after finding a great school where I took part in a couple of drawing and illustration courses, which I really enjoyed and made me improve my technique, and also allowed me to get my first commissions as an illustrator.





What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1.    It’s important to invest on your art education. Attending to art school allows not only to hone your drawing skills, but also you get to know professionals that will guide you through creating a good portfolio. Hopefully you’ll have kind teachers, as I was lucky to have, who would share their experience in the professional world.
2.    Get inspired, learn and explore as much as you can, and let your work be a reflection of your authenticity.
3.    There’s nothing wiser as the famous Picasso’s quote: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”.




What were your favourite books when you were younger?

I treasured a collection of classic books that my parents bought me, amongst these my favourite were: Heart by Edmondo de Amicis, Little Women by Louise May Alcott, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. There was another book that I loved Tierra de Infancia (Land of Childhood) written by the Salvadoran writer Claudia Lars (who in her childhood was friends with Consuelo Suncín, the future wife of the famous French writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry).




What was the last book you read? What did you think?

La más densa tiniebla (The most dense darkness) by the Mexican author Toño Malpica and wonderfully illustrated by my friend an colleague Joaquín Aragón. I hadn’t read a scary story since a compilation of tales of Edgar Allan Poe a few years ago, and I was really intrigued by the adventures and misfortunes of the main character, as well as the brilliance in which the author can make a 360º turn on some of the most popular fairy tales to twist them into scary stories. I really enjoyed it.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

Finishing the third illustrated book, which is part of a collection I’m working on at the moment for a Spanish publisher, and working on new exciting illustration projects!

What’s your ultimate dream?
I want to illustrate books that get to the hands of children allover the world… I know this sounds ambitious, especially since there are countries where books are considered luxury items. Children should always have the opportunity to dream, live adventures and enjoy themselves through the pages of a good book. A world where everybody reads should be a better world, I think.







We really hope you enjoyed getting to know Brenda a little more! If you'd like to see more of her marvellous work it is available to view  here!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What has Kate Pankhurst been up to...?


Kate Pankhurst has had a busy few weeks travelling around the UK taking part in some exciting events. She has visited The Globe in London, Foyles Birmingham and the Deershed festival in Yorkshire sharing her marvellous work with the world! She had a fantastic turnout at all three events – The Globe being a sell out! Below are some images from the events that she has been kind enough to share with us…..