VSS Illustrator Interviews

In doing these interviews, we hope to give you a glimpse into our artist members' unique personalities, a new perspective on their wonderful work, and the opportunity to know what inspires them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This week our featured artists are a team of talented and funny ladies, Malena F. Alzu and Esther Pérez-Cuadrado. Together they create dynamic illustrations under the name Artimagos
From their homes in Spain, these women take on book design, illustration and writing in the children's fiction and educational market. They are also very interested in animation, ebooks, and interactive products.
Artimagos has been published by the most respected Spanish publishing companies including Santillana, SM, Edelvives, Everest, Anaya, and Bruño as well as some international companies- Oxford UP, Cambridge UP, and Pearson.     
Malena is going to start out this interview by herself but Esther jumps in part way through.

How did you get started in illustration?
We started doing logos and page design for educational books. Then we did layouts and, when they discovered Esther was an efficient, sweet, lively and fast drawer, we did illustration as well. Very often we manage both things in a book project, design and illustration.
What is your favorite medium? Can you describe your usual work process for us?
At first we used watercolors. Now, Esther draws on paper with pencil, scans, and retouches the drawings digitally. We both paint with photoshop. We use photographs for textures.

Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Which comes first for you?
Oh, yes, we write as well. Usually, I write. Stories come to my mind, I rewrite them many-many times and I lay out sort of rough sketches. Then, Esther changes all when she draws, she imagines different things from my words. Sometimes, Esther composes her stories, with fewer words and powerful drawings.

Do you illustrate full time or do you also have day jobs?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life?
This is our job and we both work at home, in different towns. We communicate by chats, mail, telephone. We both have children so we are very considerate with each other's responsibilities. Hard work, respect and discipline is the key to nearly 18 years working together.
Where do you live?  
I live in Madrid, and Esther in a village called Brunete. We work at home. It is usually very messy but comfortable too.

Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences?
We learned Design concepts at University (Fine Arts, Madrid) but not much about illustration. The internet is a great school. Now, we are both studying and attending courses, on different subjects (illustration, writing, education theory, software), as we have different interests. 
Please list any of your publications. 
Serie Los gemelos, de Carlos Puerto, Ediciones Gaviota
Serie Miguel (Las aventuras de Miguel, Miguel y la cabra traidora, Miguel y la patrulla capulla), de Inmaculada Díaz, Everest
Pequeñazo Pérez, de Maria Dolores Pérez-Lucas, Everest
Fábulas de siempre, tomos I y II. Everest
El viaje de Jeremías, Eypro, Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.
La Gran carrera, Eypro, Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.
What is your website? 
Tell us about your current project.
We are designing and illustrating Lectures 1 and 2 for Grup Promotor, and a Catholic Religion Children's Book for PPC. And illustrations for a Science Book First Grade for Oxford OUP.

Who are your favorite children’s illustrators or authors?
What a question!! It depends on the mood (tomorrow, it may be different). Writers: Roald Dahl, Christine Nöstlinger, Gianni Rodari, Maria Gripe, Margaret Mahy, Tolkien, Toon Tellegen, Pescetti,… and Saramago, Sampedro, Benedetti, Cortázar, Chéjov, R. Chandler,  J Austen, V Wolf, G Elliot, I Calvino, H James, FG Lorca, Neruda... Non stop. Illustrators come and go, admired painters for ever and ever: Modiglianni, E Shielle, P Klee.

If you could be any children’s book character, who would you be and why? 

Esther: As I like drawing animals, their way of moving, acting, looking.. I could be any animal but a dolphin, I don’t like dolphins.
Malena: I would be a witch: top fashion, colourful stockings, original shoes, fulgurant eyes, creative make-up. Flying whenever without wings! And those noses, full of character: so familiar to me.

What inspires you?

Esther: I always imagine the “before” and the “after” in a scene I have to express… A bit weird, but that’s what I try to catch and show.
Malena: People´s stories, things my friends tell me, experiences I have and I can transform into something completely different and surprising.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Esther: Am I a grown up? No more time? I don’t understand.
Malena: I wanted to be a parachutist.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Esther: Looking, listening, reading, drawing, listening again, reading again, drawing again…as I travel, of course.
Malena: Reading, watching movies with my kids, going to the theatre, eating paellas, singing, visiting new places, making up silly things. Dreaming stories, in general.

What job would you like to have if you weren’t an illustrator?
Esther: I am other things apart from an illustrator: mother, colleague, lover… I am a pain in the neck!
Malena: A teacher, probably. Or a librarian. Or a book seller. Or a book maker. Do I look boring and repetitive?

Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started?

Esther: Look, listen, read, travel and draw it all!
Malena: Try to do something you are good at, to get paid. Remember: it is a job. Don´t force yourself to be someone else.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We are creativity lovers, but we are not artists. We love life most, and we work to be able to live.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview - it was lot's of fun reading it. Thanks for the laughs, your outlooks on art and life and the inspiration!