Questioning Creatives

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This article was written on 09 Sep 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Miguel Montaner

Hello. My name is Miguel Montaner and I’m an illustrator from Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona.

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When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
As a child I spent the day drawing in my spare time but I didn’t know of the existence of this profession. I did it as a hobby, I took it as my moment of abstraction from everyday reality.

Later, for various reasons and after wandering for other areas such as science (for a long time I wanted to be a marine biologist), I decided to exploit this practice which had previously been my hobby and I decided to study illustration.

From the first months it was quite clear to me that I wanted to follow that direction to professional level, but it wasn’t until about a year after finishing school when I could see in first-hand the characteristics of this profession. It was exactly then when I decided definitely to be an illustrator.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
I recommend studying in a school because it can learn the basics of the profession, as well as some tips that will help you along the way.

On the other hand I think that no school can teach you what this profession entails.

The real learning lies in the way and in the first-hand experiences.

Engaging in the illustration isn’t based only on doing an illustration for a client, it’s a way of understanding and living your life. It involves heavy sacrifices, autosuggestion, perseverance, patience and many hours of reflection and practice that you won’t find in any educational institution.

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How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
After finishing my studies I went through a time when I found myself totally lost.

I didn’t know how to move for the professional world and no job was offered to me.

Just then I visualized the logic of the situation: I didn’t know how or where to look for work, so that all efforts were in vain.

With patience and perseverance I learned by “trial and error” where and how to look for.

Normally the error took me back to another mistake, but among them there are small successes and these took me on the right track. After some time, after many hit’s (and many, many mistakes), I got my first job in edition: the culmination of many successes converted in my first professional job.

This happened about half a year after finishing my studies at the end of 2011.

From there everything was easier. I’d learned (and am still learning) how and where to look for.

The volume of works increased until I got to have monthly orders with their respective payments, which is at the point where I’m since late 2012.

Anyway, I must say, even today I can’t have a pleasant economical life.

To this day I still use the same technique of “trial and error”, and although it is impossible to have a 100% success rate, with every passing day I learn from my errors and right guesses, the success rate is increased regard the errors. The hits increase the volume of orders and these the earnings.

At the moment I continue following the same ‘trial and error’ technique, and altought it is impossible to have a 100% success rate, day’s pass and every time you learn from an error, the success rate is increased respect the errors. The hits increase the volume of orders and these, in consequence, the earnings.

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Could you describe your typical day?
I managed, after much practice, organize and follow a routine ritual. I reckon that without it days wouldn’t be productive at all.

Usually, Monday to Friday, I get up about 7:00 to 7:30am. to have a light breakfast, usually a tea and a fresh orange juice and read the press until 8am, when I start my work in front of the computer.

Until one o’clock I focus on illustration commissions or, if there aren’t any, on tasks that will facilitate access to new assignments, often contacting art directors.

Once I finish this I spend one more hour in secondary tasks as maintaining my website and blog, promoting my work through social networks or thinking about illustration.

From 2:00 to 3:00pm I take a break to enjoy a meal and read a book.

At 3:00pm, I’m back at the computer and if I have finished all my morning tasks, I spend about three hours doing fiscal and management tasks or studying image theory or English.

Once everything is finished, the rest of the afternoon is free time for personal items. I usually spend my time illustrating or going for a drink and enjoying the sun (we have loads here).

On the one hand I have to say that I often skip this organisation and I continue to work until 8:00pm, I usually have the feeling I have to do a bit more.

On the other hand I also want to say that everything said so far seems very meticulous, but depends entirely on one thing: the urgent assignments. When I have one (they are the majority of the ‘work’ I get) the organisation and tasks go to a second level and I dedicate 100% of my time to solve the assignment, spending often whole nights and weekends working.

What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
Honestly I wish I could have known a lot more than I knew at the beginning.

Anyways, on second thought, I think without learning all these things by the way, this profession wouldn’t have much sense. It’s very exciting the “enlightenment” that you feel every time you discover these little secrets.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Finding the solution, “the idea”, among the hundreds of failures and illustrations discarded makes you feel really good.

But I think the best of them, which I consider as the result of all those things I won’t mention, is that this profession improves all facets that identify you as a person.

You have to learn a million things, and if it’s true that among them is the technical things (drawing, composition, color, etc..), this represents a very low percentage. Everything else, the large percentage of things you learn as an illustrator, are applicable to everyday life and to you as an individual. From reading topics you do not know about, investigating, organizing yourself or thinking about many things. This makes you grow and improve as a person at all levels.

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What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
I will also comment two things:

First I have to say that I hate having to invest in many cases hours at night or on weekends as it is frustrating to want to rest and not being able to do it.

Secondly you have to sacrifice many things, indeed, I think that without strong sacrifices one cannot go too far…

These are things that you have to take if you want to lead a life as an illustrator.

If you want this profession to give you the good things I commented in the previous answer, you have to let something back: that’s were the balance lies.

If you want to get from this profession the things that I commented in the previous answer, you have to let something back: therein lies the balance of things.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I’m not sure, but I think that I would be a writer.

I love reading and I consider it a very dignified profession, creative and closely resembles that of an illustrator.

Any other tips you could share?
I will quote Dr. Mario Alonso Puig: “How we see the future determines how we live the present.”

This means that we don’t have to get to our future through our present actions, but that we have to visualise the future to know how we must act in the present. this way we get to that future achieving what we propose.

Therefore, although it seems very typical and I was one of his most fervent detractors, I am increasingly convinced that if you want you can.

Everyone can get what he intends. You just have to know where and how to get it and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get there. Visualise your future.

miguelmontaner.com

twitter.com/miguelmontaner

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