Register

Illustrator Profile - Cristina Spano: "I always focus on the message I need to communicate"

By Robert Newman   Thursday October 12, 2017

Cristina Spano is an editorial and book illustrator based in Barcelona. Like many of the illustrators in the Profiles series, she has a background as a graphic designer. Her illustrations are bold, crisp, and colorful, very modern stylistically but with an old-school flavor.

MY LIFE:
I grew up in Rome and I moved to Urbino for the university. In Urbino I was in a really good school of visual communication called ISIA, which was situated in an ancient convent. From Rome, which is a big city, it’s weird to start living in a really small town like that, but for me it was perfect for that time. I really like living in a place that’s not too big, is medieval, and full of nature. Urbino is famous because it was the town of Raffaello and nowadays it is an important place for the printing and creation of books. I think it’s one of the best places to study!

After the university I came back to Rome and I worked as a graphic designer in a studio for one year. After that I needed a change—Rome was too big for me and graphic design was not for me. So I moved to Barcelona where I took a course in book art and a Masters in illustration. I have always drawn and made comics, but I had never studied illustration before that.

Right now I’ve been living for six years in Barcelona and working on illustration—I think—for three years. I say I think because it is hard to find the specific moment when I started to work. Starting to work it was more like a process. It was hard for me to know how to start, how to find a commission.

My parents are biologists, so they know nothing about this world. But they always supported me and that was really important.


MY WORKSPACE:
I recently took a new studio called Taller de la Bodega Paquita, with some illustrators and friends such as Stefania Lusini and Maria Corte. We really like this place because originally it was an old wine cellar that was very popular in the neighborhood. Sometimes old people from the neighborhood stop by our studio and talk about their youth there.

Also important is the location of the studio. It’s in a popular neighborhood called Gracia, which is like a small town but near the center of the city, full of other studios and events.

HOW I MAKE MY ILLUSTRATIONS:
Pencil and Photoshop. The majority of time I start by brainstorming ideas and then start sketching. Then I scan them and I work on it in Photoshop with my tablet. 


MY FIRST BIG BREAK:

I think it was a project, “Limbos,” I made with Teiera for The Bilbolbul festival. The subject was the “Limbo” and I made a series called “The Evolution,” as it is for me a kind of limbo that never finishes. The style had to be like an old print, with a lot of lines and textures. So I think from there I started to have a style to work in that I felt was really mine.

MY INFLUENCES:
For me it was really important to study communication. I always focus on the message I need to communicate. So graphic design in general was really important for me.

Then I’ve always been fascinated by old prints, ancient maps, vintage packaging and objects, old toys, tools and plants. 

The music of Fabrizio De André and Jacques Brel was really important. I've always wanted to draw comics as they wrote their songs. 

Also photography has been really important (actually during university I wanted to be a photographer). I like the way you can select parts of the world, find the composition and tell stories. It changes the way you see the world!

MY MOST ADMIRED CREATIVE PERSON:
I admire a lot of people. But I think recently I really admire the work of The Yes Men, for the ethical implications and the energy they have. They put a lot of creativity into what they do. They are really amazing. 


MY CREATIVE INSPIRATION:

It depends on what I have to do. Sometimes if I need an idea for a book I go to the bookstore. Sometimes I make some investigations in Pinterest or Google. If I have time I go to a second-hand shop or I water the plants.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF WORKING ALONE:
I think the big challenges are the organization, the patience and the determination. 

The organization: It’s really hard to figure out how much you have to spend on different tasks, like making contacts, new projects, the experimental part.

The patience: Sometimes you lose your patience with all the stuff you have to deal with (especially bureaucracy) and you need to focus and make order.

The determination: You need to be strong to go forward, even though sometimes you would like to change your job! 

A MEMORABLE ASSIGNMENT FROM THE PAST YEAR:
Last year I worked for The New York Times Op-Ed section for two whole weeks. It was very challenging because I had very little time to make good work. But it was also very stimulating!


DREAM ASSIGNMENT:

I would like to do a cover for a classic literature book, like Jules Verne, Herman Melville etc, and if it would be for Penguin, that would be the best!

Another dream assignment could be receiving a lot of money to do whatever I want, without any preoccupation, nor worrying about selling or clients. Like an exhibition, a graphic novel, a picture book or a sculpture.

MY FAVORITE ART DIRECTOR:
While all the art directors I've been working with are very good, I have to mention especially Alexandra Zsigmond, because thanks to her I started working in The New York Times. She gave me my first commission and from that moment I have worked with them a lot!


SOME OF MY FAVORITE ILLUSTRATORS:

There are so many illustrators that I admire that I’m going to forget someone for sure!

Isidro Ferrer: Because he is really intelligent in the way he works. 
Javier Jaen: I really love his ideas.
Lily Scratchy: I really like the freedom in her work (and I really love her ceramics!)
Ed Carosia and Maxi Luchini: All the works they do are really beautiful; they can do anything. 

OTHER WORK:
I work mainly on editorial and book illustrations. I made a comic three years ago, and I’m waiting to do another (if I find the time). I make ceramics sometimes.


HOW I PROMOTE MYSELF:

I use the classical social media (Facebook, Instagram, Behance, Pinterest), competitions and make self-publishing projects. For me the best are the social media, although I’m not really good at it. At the beginning making zines/self-publishing was the best promotion. It was good go to the festivals and meet new people, make connections. I think it was a good point to start and to learn.

ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING OUT:
Work a lot. Focus. Do not compare your work with others. Keep going forward. Enjoy.

See more Cristina Spano illustrations, new work and updates:
Cristina Spano website
Instagram: @cristina.spano
Behance
Pinterest
Rep: Ella Lupo/Purple Rain Illustrators



0 Comments

No comments yet.


Profiles