Where did you grow up and when did you say to yourself: ‘’I want to be an Artist’’?
I was born in sunny Seville, Spain and I have lived here my whole life except for this year when I lived for 9 months in Barcelona while I was studying at Escola Joso. I have been drawing since I was a child, but when you are 6 years old, you don’t realize that your hobby can become your career, so I wanted to be a teacher. Then, when I finished high school, I already knew that I loved drawing. However, I didn't want to start a Fine Arts degree because I thought it would be difficult to find a job later. On the other hand, I wanted to have a creative job so I studied Graphic Design, and I’m glad of that decision because it has been very useful for my illustration projects. Later on, I worked for over 4 years as a 2d animator for a videogame and mobile applications company until I decided it was the time to start my illustration career. It was then when I realized that being a 2D artist was what I had wished for all of my life. I think I always knew that I wanted to be an artist but it took me a lot of time to realize about it.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My parents and my sister have always supported me with all my decisions. They have always been there to advise me. From my point of view, I have been the one who has hindered herself from becoming a 2D artist. When I finished high school I was the one who didn’t want to start a Fine Arts degree because I thought it wouldn't have any future, and later, when I was working I was frightened of losing my job to start my illustration career. In the end, we are the ones who have to cheer ourselves as if you don’t try to become who you really want to be, you’ll never know if you would have finally achieved it.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I think it was a mix. When I was a child I used to see many animes on TV and my favourite was Card Captor Sakura, so I fell in love with Clamp’s style. Later on, when I was at high school I loved drawing and seeing Harry Potter fanarts so I discovered Makani’s work what made me come upon DeviantArt. I found out so many brilliant artists there whose work motivated me to keep drawing. And last but not least, I think that growing up watching Disney and Pixar movies influenced me so much too.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
Nowadays we have the Internet to search for art tutorials and artists so it’s easier to be self taught. You can learn so many different techniques, styles and find a lot of tools as well. I have learned from tutorials and books over many years but last year, I decided to go to Barcelona to study Concept Art at Escola Joso. I learned a few useful techniques to develop your projects there. I also realized how useful gesture drawing and natural drawing are. They are essential to know how to express movement on characters and how to use color on illustrations. But from who I learnt the most those months were my classmates. We were all very motivated and we always had something to learn from the others or something to show the others. It is quite necessary to relate to people in the industry, students or workers, because you can learn so much from them. What we actually really need to learn is to believe in ourselves, to be self-critical, to accept advices from the others, and not to stop learning.
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?
I’ve always loved character design. The most interesting fact is the process you follow until you reach that design which fits properly with the story of your character, his emotions, his personality… Absolutely everything counts: his physical appearance, his clothes, his pose, the way he walks…When I was a child, I used to draw the characters from Card Captor Sakura, I love them. Basically, I used to copy them in my drawings. And then, as I have already mentioned, I used to draw Harry Potter fan arts. I was reading the books at that time, and I loved that world full of magic creatures, environments and so many interesting characters. I remember myself drawing Sirius Black, who is my favourite character of the saga, and I remember that I hated all my designs for him because I loved him so much that any of my drawings wasn't good enough to represent him. As I have grown up I’ve realized there’s an entire world outside Harry Potter’s one hahaha. Nevertheless, I’ve recently drawn some fanarts about this theme. So Harry Potter has a huge meaning for me because reading those books motivated me to draw in one way or another.
What is your process in coloring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
It depends on the type of work. For example, if I am working on an illustration, I usually draw little black and white thumbnails very quickly to search for a composition and atmosphere which fit with my idea. When I have a few that I like, I detail them a bit more and then, I choose the one that fits the most with my intention. Afterwards, I start coloring very quickly with an Overlay layer to search for the right combination of colors. When the colors are correct, and they are well communicating my idea, I detail the illustration until I finish it. If I am working on an environment, I follow more or less the same process. And if I am working on a character, when I’ve passed through all the stages of development and I have the final one, I usually color it with a base of spot colors and then I start to give it some volume with light and shadow.
Actually, I like to experiment with different processes of work, because I love to change my style a little between projects and if you are working as concept artist, you have to learn to manage different styles to fit different projects. However, I usually use paper and a blue pencil for the first sketches and then Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq 12wx. Lately, I have started to draw on the iPad with Procreate and I would love to work with acrylic and gouache, but I don’t have enough room at this moment.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
From my point of view, working progress has ups and downs of fun and difficulty. For example at the beginning of a project, everything is fun because you can let yourself experiment with different techniques to develop the first designs. However, when you have to choose the designs that fit better with your project, you need to be more self-critic and careful with the details because those designs must communicate exactly what you want for that work. When you finally find what you needed, the project is fun again because at that specific moment, the challenge is to make it perfect to show. When it is about to be finished, it becomes difficult to decide when to stop working on that illustration, character or environment as if you are self-critic you know that you can always improve it.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I have learnt many useful things from my teachers, my classmates, or artists that I know from the Internet. I have learnt so many techniques, working processes, etc. Nevertheless, the most important things that I learnt from them is to believe in myself, to be self-critic, to work hard and to never stop learning.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I’m quite self-critic with my work, so I don’t tend to think that something is perfect but I do feel proud of it when someone appreciates it or has a special meaning for me. So, maybe, the work which makes me feel most proud of could be my final Project for my Concept Art studies, because it means the start of my career as a 2D artist. I worked so hard on that project and I enjoyed so much that I realized I was doing what I really wanted to do. Later, it had many good critiques, so it made me believe in myself more than before.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
The fact of living off illustration or concept art is a dream for me. It is a reached goal.
However, it would be great to work side by side with artists that I admire and who I would learn so much from.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I think both have advantages and disadvantages. For instance, working for a company means that you have to comply with a strict work timetable while if you are freelancing, despite you are working the same hours or even more, you can manage your time as you need it. However, being freelancing might be a bit lonely experience if you aren’t working in a coworking place, whereas in an office you can relate with your workmates. Furthermore, being freelancing means that you have to manage your money, invoices, etc. You are the Account Department, the Marketing Department and the Production Department so this is very stressful but it can be very satisfying too. I've worked for a company and I felt comfortable with that and now I’m working as freelancing and I feel happy too because I think it’s a very interesting experience.
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 not to worry about that because it’s something common on this profession and it’s going to happen many times over our career. They could use that time to improve and learn some new techniques and working processes, so they take the opportunity to draw anything and either way. It would be great for them to take a walk around their city to clear their mind, to read a book, to watch a film or to start a new videogame. Do something different on their rutine. And never forget to do some sport, this a very necessary and important thing, because they are going to spend most of their life sitting. I think this is an advice for myself too.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there’s so many options to choose and when you’re young, sometimes the only thing you know is just that you love to draw: what should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
It’s difficult to give an advice for that. From my point of view, you realize about it while you are working on it every day, unless you already have a clear decision from the beginning, but this is quite improbable. Maybe you think you love animation and then you discover yourself enjoying a lot designing the character that you are going to animate later. The good news is that you will have time to switch off among concept art, animation, illustration or comic because all of them are connected.
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Nowadays, there are more people who want to work on the industry. There are more
animators, illustrators, concept artists, etc, every day. On the one hand, this is a good thing because I suppose that means it’s a booming industry, but on the other hand, there is a lot of competition. Nevertheless, if you work hard and don’t give up you can find your place on it. However, don’t expect to get rich working on this industry; In spite of being a very satisfying job at an emotional level, you won’t be able to buy an island.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
There are many artists who inspire me every day. In fact, every day I discover the work of an artist I didn’t know before. But just know I’m very influenced by the work of Dice Tsutsumi, Robert Kondo, Helen Chen, Lorelay Bové, Pascal Campion, Fernando Peque, Jin Kim, Borja Montoro, Jen Zee…The list is endless.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
Lately, almost all of the animation projects launched are in 3D. But there are some studios that still work on 2D projects and they are absolutely masterpieces, like Song of the Sea. Furthermore, there are many TV series which mix different types of animation and they have great results. We’ve also seen what we get mixing 3D with traditional animation in shorts films like Paperman or Feast. On the other hand, we have the beautiful short film called The Dam Keeper, by Tonko House, which was developed with 2D animation, and with a great artistic style. Maybe it’s not like traditional hand drawn animation, because it’s digital, but I think 2D animation will always be there. It's essential, and if we combine it with other animation techniques it gives us amazing results.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can follow my work on facebook.com/blackramuartwork, blackramu.deviantart.com and blackramu.artstation.com. If you want to contact me, you can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, I use to upload some work in progress at my Instragram account, @blackramu_art.
Thank you so much!! :D
Thank you María :)