Can you talk about your background? How did you first get into illustration?
I got into illustration as a kid, despite the fact that I went to an art school that was quite traditional and somehow uptight, I became interested thanks to the school library. I didn’t felt so interested in reproducing the great masters. We were rarely taught to be creative, expressive and modern. So I was very impressed when I saw this lithographies from Joan Miro, Picasso and Matisse and I wondered why we weren’t heading in this direction. Wasn’t this art too? Everything seemed so academic and inflexible. Then around the same time, I went to a book fair and found an illustration annual from Spain, and I thought “Wow, so artists also do books and magazines,” and that was my thing.
I found illustration more awesome that reproducing Caravaggio! I mean, I felt that I could use my brush and my head at the same time to communicate and express in a small format. Painting and sculpting seemed like an overwhelming world to me, maybe because we weren’t so free to choose how to paint or sculpt.
You work with a lot of writers, publications, and platforms. Can you talk about this process and how you create images for a body of work that exists in written form?
Many of the writers and clients that I have worked with have been extremely open and receptive. I think it’s because they trust me and respect the work that I do for them. They normally send the text to me, then I read it and take note of the things that I unconsciously find more close to my own experience. In this step I also do a lot of research and google many words or check books that I have in my studio, to broaden my ideas and thoughts. I discuss many of my projects (if not all of them) with my partner. He is a writer and huge reader so it helps a lot to have another point of view from someone that is creative and approaches art in a different way.
The creative process is never so structured, sometimes an idea can be so clear from the beginning, and then you feel insecure and you ask yourself “How did I came to this idea so fast? I should be doing more.” So you do more, and then at the end of that day, you go back and say: that first idea, that was the right one. And in other times, it can be a turbulent process of doing, contemplating and redoing.
When I look at your work, I think of the word, “warmth.” When did you solidify your personal style and how do you make stylistic choices—for example, color and shape?
I think my personal style appeared when I stopped “trying.” I just made things as honest I as could, and then things developed naturally. I try to not think much of the color I’m choosing or the way I’m drawing. Of course I admire many artists and that informs my work. I think about what I love about it, and to be exact: what is underlying in the image that attracts me? That’s what I want to take from it.
How much time do you spend in the studio?
I spend many hours here, this is more like a playroom to me. I don’t only work in the studio. I watch Netflix, eat, read, interact, and play with my niece and nephew here! My studio is a beloved space to me, I feel very thankful to have one just for me.
Where do you gain inspiration from? Does your city influence your work?
Well, my city is a very chaotic place, so maybe unconsciously, my mind blocks all this bad images in my head. I see so many bad news and images: an almost naked girl they call “the sunday girl,” a dead person found in a bag in some street, a civilian killing another for whatever reason, and the list goes on. Life here is anxious and stressing, you simply don’t feel secure while walking, taking a bus, or even driving. And there are so many other problems I could keep telling you about. I guess my city doesn’t influence my work in this way.
I made this narrative about my partner’s house outside of the city, and a part of it reflects my memories and images there, so maybe I’m trying to run away from the city I live through my work.
What tools do you use to make your work?
I work mostly in a digital way. I use a normal pen, cheap white paper, a scanner, tablet and computer. Sometimes when I have time and feel like it, I use gouache and brush and do something manually. I think tablets are awesome and practical, but sometimes it’s good to do things that are more natural and human without the eraser.
What tips do you have for freelance illustrators who want to get into a similar line of work?
I would say that you have to have a strong idea of responsibility and formality. I mean if you’re talented, that’s awesome, but that’s not everything. You need a big dose of perseverance too because success can’t be done over night. Be a professional, be kind and be willing to listen. To develop your style and voice, be honest about yourself and don’t look to what is on trend, always try to be better. Get up and don’t be the same you were yesterday. Try to elevate your work at the level of the ones that you admire, because if they can, so can you.
Monica Andino is an illustrator and visual communicator from Honduras. She has studied graphic design and illustration at the National School of Fine Arts in Honduras, and the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Has worked as a freelancer, on both fields since 2012. Her clients range from startups to well know companies from around the world.
Clients she has worked with with are Airbnb, Mondadori, Bustle, Avianca and Babbel.