Questioning Creatives

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This article was written on 02 Feb 2015, and is filled under illustrators.

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Catarina Sobral

I am 29 years old, was born in Coimbra (Portugal), but currently live in Lisbon. I started my career as an illustrator in 2011, when my first book Greve was published in Orfeu Negro editions. Meanwhile I was doing my masters in illustration and graduated by the time my second book Achimpa was published. Since then I have been focusing in children’s books. Some of my work has been published in countries including Portugal, Brazil, France, Sweden, Italy, South Korea and in the end of this year also in Germany, Hungary, Latin America and Spain.

childrens_literature

When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
When I was in art school. I discovered these inspiring designers’ picture books, such as La mela e la farfalla, by Iela and Enzo Mari, Henri’s Walk to Paris by Saul Bass, the books from Paul Rand, William Wondriska and Bruno Munari. These designers weren’t just concerned about the illustrations. They thought about the book as a whole: the typography, the montage, the relationship between words and pictures, the materiality of the book (papers, windows, cut-outs…), and that influenced me to become an illustrator. I still took additional two years till finally deciding to do a MFA in illustration. Eventually I had to follow my instinct.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
Definitely! That doesn’t mean you can’t be an awesome self made illustrator but in my case I learned a lot in art school. Doing a master in illustration forced me to investigate more about picture books and that made me a better children’s books author.

museum

How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
About two/three years.

Could you describe your typical day?
I start the day answering tons of emails. If I don’t have to teach go to a meeting or something else I pass all day in my studio and just go out at night. My studio is in my home since I do prefer working alone and not leaving home to go to work. I can do a lot of different tasks in the same day: sketching, doing final artworks, animating, doing hand lettering adaptations for children’s book or layouts for portuguese editions of foreign picturebooks, sometimes posters, sometimes writing…

What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
That all the hard work, frustration, low-paying commissions are part of the process.

bookshops

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
You learn a different thing or illustrate a text from a different author every time you have to work. Specially in editorial illustration with a regular commission. Each time you receive a new text you have the opportunity to read investigate and illustrate on an unknown subject. This way you get familiar with new things every time. When it comes to illustrating authors that you admire, that feeling is even better.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
Not having weekends, nor being able to plan your spare time since you never know when you have work to do. Or when you will finish it. I can estimate but I can never know exactly how much time a creative task will take.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
A film director.

catarinasobral.com

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