Where did you grown up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I was born in Madrid, Spain, and I have always wanted to become an artist or do something creative. During school's recess time, If it was raining and we had to stay inside, I would always draw. I was really into video games, and I remember admiring the box art covers by people like Luis Royo or Alfonso Azpiri and being completely hypnotized by the illustrations. That is when I decided that I wanted to do them myself, I think I was 13 or 14 years old.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I did not go to college, but I have a degree in Illustration from the School of Applied Arts and Artistic Professions #10, a public school in Madrid. If you can, I really recommend going to school, it has many advantages like meeting other people with the same creative curiosity. Your classmates become your first social and professional network, and you are exposed to different styles and ways of art making that really help you grow as an artist. It is always healthy to realize that there are lots of other talented people, you have to be humble and get the ego under control. I also got a solid knowledge about the field and set of technical skills, but you only get better if you don't stop practicing. Talent can help you get there faster, but you need work ethic and perseverance.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I always say that I am an illustrator thanks to my mother. She has always supported my choices and has given me freedom to be who I wanted to be. Lots of friends and instructors were forced to study a degree with a "better" professional projection than illustration, like Zeptiror, one of the best illustrators I know and a good friend, who studied to be a computer technician.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up (artists, movies, cartoons comics etc...)?
Without a doubt video games and animation series from Hanna Barbera, Disney, and Anime. My influences have changed and evolved with time though. At the beginning I was really into realistic drawings, and I loved heavy metal music! so I drew tons of super muscular guys with all kinds of weapons, and semi naked female elves :D. I was a big fan of Lucas Arts' games, and it was by playing Monkey Island 3 and Day of the Tentacle that I decided to try a more cartoonish style. I think my fondness for space themes and Science Fiction developed with series like Galaxy Rangers or The Thundercats, and some of the biggest influences were Dragon Ball and Bruce Timm's Batman. I went through a superhero comic phase (Xmen, Cyberforce, Wildcats, Gen13) and classics like Calvin and Hobbes. I have also seen lots of martial art movies! way too many. When I am asked to define my style I normally show a frame from the U.P.A (United Productions of America) and one Anime from Dragon Ball. I guess my style is a mix of the two, or at least I would like it to be :D.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
Clearly the space theme. When I was a kid I drew all kinds of things, but know every time I don't know what to draw I make an alien or an astronaut, an alien astronaut, or a hammerhead shark astronaut (I love them, they are martians on earth) And of course robots! Robots are the best!
From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a new project? Could you describe it?
The first part of the process is to read the script and to have a talk with the director to know more about the project, and to have a look at the mood board with references. This really helps me to figure out what kind of design do they want: childish, more adult, etc... and the "craziness" that the characters should portray. Then I research my own references, this is crucial and I always do it. Imagine that you need to draw an eagle, you must know what are the exact features that will make it look like one. After that I start sketching, the more the better so that the director has material to choose from (sometimes he does a mockup with parts of the different characters), this is also very important because normally I don't make a character design from just one drawing! I have to make lots of variations, take notes of the different ideas about the characters and include photos as references for textures. Then I send it and make revisions and changes after I have some feedback. After they choose a character I work on a more technical and detailed render, making color variations, turnarounds, different posses and expressions.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I try to use an economy of color in my characters: a dominant hue or range and a complementary color for details. My colors are more saturated and vibrant now, and advantage of working on RGB. Some of my favourites are turquoise and pistachio green, and I am in love with "zombie green"! I normally separate each color in a different layer, and I start drawing with a warm hue that I change later. I always check new software, but my go to ones are Painter and Clip Studio Paint/Manga Studio. Painter has a more natural finished look but Manga is really versatile (I use it for line and color) I bought several packs of Daub Brushes and you get results similar to Painter. When I am in Photoshop I usually work with Kyle T Webster brushes. Regarding traditional media I use pen and markers (Pentel Stylo for lines and Prismacolor for colouring) and lately I got back to gouache.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The most fun part is sketching and finding out the characters' features, and the hardest are the production and technical stages, in particular making turnarounds.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
It really depends on the day and the amount of work I have. I used to work in an shared studio (with my good friends Paulo Mosca, Abel Sanchez and Nacho Rodriguez “Mr Coo”) and it was a great period and experience. These guys are amazing artists, I learned lots from them and we keep on collaborating on specific projects. When you work at a studio you socialize and share more, and the danger of working at home is to stay in your pyjamas all day, though I must say it is really comfy. I draw something everyday, even if it is not work related, and I would like to do more warm ups but there is not always enough time. Now I work from home, and I try to do several activities that have nothing to do with drawing to stimulate creativity and stay mentally healthy. Lately I am dancing Lindy Hop, and let me tell you my friends: If I can dance, anybody can!
What are some things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or those you have seen?
Like my friend Paulo Mosca says: " four eyes see more than two", and you have to stay permeable to criticism. It happens that I am working on a drawing and there is something that bothers me, though I am not sure of what it is yet, and I friend looks at it and tells me: "your character has two right hands", and I suddenly see the mistake. Animation is a team work, you have to be respectful and kind to your colleagues, nobody wants to work with a jerk! Like another friend, Iker de los Mozos (amazing artist, check it out) said , “I prefer to work with somebody with less technical level but more human”.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Probably one of my favourites is the work I did for Psyop and the Kool Aid commercial, specially the yellow designs. I had to create lots of different characters and the director gave me so much freedom. I had a terrific time.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I collaborate with several vfx studios, and I recently worked for Sony Animation in a couple of projects (one of these is: The Emoji Movie). It has been incredible to collaborate with artists that I have admired for so long, and I am forever thankful to Carlos Zaragoza, and Fletcher Moules, for the opportunities.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
To continue learning and having fun with it. This may sound cheese but I considered myself very lucky. To make a living doing what you love is one of the biggest privileges in life. I would like to keep on making animation, particularly long stories, design toys, and turn Bambinomonkey into a multi product brand.
Working for a company or freelancing: wat suits you best? And why?
Both things have pros and cons. I have worked as a freelance 10 of the 15 years I have been in the business, and I prefer the amount of freedom It gives you. A negative aspect is that you do not always know when the next job is going to come, but I just relax and devote the free time to learn and push my own projects, which in my experience are the ones that end up giving you more commercial work.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I would tell them to take a break and rest, stop what you are doing, go for a walk or meet some friends. When it happens to me I normally check other artists' work to get inspired, and it does the trick! It has become a habit before I start working.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you are young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
Do what you really love and your career will find its path. I studied illustration and it was mostly focused on text books and magazines, but I ended up specializing in character design, my real passion, and what I always show on my web. Your web is like the window display in a store: people will not ask you if you sell apples if you only show pears.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
That is a tough question, but I guess you go from general to specific, at least in Spain. It really depends if you want to be a freelance or work for a studio. I think if you want to work at a studio, specially if it is small, you have to be versatile. If you are a freelance choosing a style can be beneficial, though it develops with time and lots of work. I am now specialized in cartoon, but it is not only about technique and style, the subject matter and idea are really important when you are creating.
If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic, graphic novel, children book, "how to" book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
Second tough question! lol. I would recommend Animator' s Survival Kit, from Richard Williams. Knowing the origins of animation will help you construct better characters.
What is your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectations for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Now there are many more career paths and areas to work as an illustrator. Imagine how the video game industry is going to evolve with virtual reality. We have to stay open to new opportunities.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Some of my favourite artists are Bruce Timm, Shane Glines, Akira Toriyama, Fabien Mense and Jake Parker, but it is really hard to choose among the enormous quantity of brilliant artists. I always pay attention to the new generations, 10 of the 20 artists that I recently followed on the social networks are under 25! Regarding designs, I love Red Ribbon's skull robot (Dragon Ball), or the Evas (Evangelion) they are spectacular.
We have a soft spot for hand animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I believe it will always have its own place within the vast field of animation. The same is true for illustration: the digital has not replaced the hand drawn, it is simply a matter of preference.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans line never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
Social networks are really important, they allow us to easily stay in contact and have opened new paths to work as an illustrator. Crowd funding is beneficial for both parts involved: the clients/fans and the artists. Working directly for the client allows you more creative freedom and the clients have more to choose from and can be more specific.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My social networks' name is Bambinomonkey, and this is my website ( bambinomonkey.com ). Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you Ignacio :)