Where do you live/work? What do you love about working/living there? What don't you like?
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a residential neighbourhood with quiet, tree-lined streets. In the evenings you can hear the birds and my husband and I enjoy going for a walk after a day's work. I work at home and my husband and I share the office space. I also have a room for my little library and a messy desk. I use it for handmade projects, when I want to read or just when I am looking for inspiration. What I don’t like is that, being on the outskirts of the city, the commute to downtown might be a long, tedious journey!
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
What I enjoy the most and still find amazing is that I can make a living out of what I love - drawing! The process of bringing a character to life is intense and exciting at the same time and makes me very happy. I also enjoy listening to those who see and read the printed result of that search, whether it is an editor, a child or whoever buys a book that I illustrated. Their feedback and feelings about my work are very rewarding!
How do you work?
Ideally, I sketch first freehand with a black pencil, then I scan it and continue on the computer. If time is short, I start directly on the computer. I work with an Intuos 4 digital tablet, (a flat surface plugged into the computer that comes with a digital pencil that lets you draw or paint in Photoshop like a real pencil or brush.) I prepare my own digital brushes and I like the result to be as warm and similar to a handmade image as possible.
These are the previous sketches for Mary Had a Little Lamb (Child’s Play – 2012.)
This is how I work in layers from the b&w artwork to the final image. Sometimes I use more than 500 layers!
What's the hardest part of your job?
To stop working! Sometimes I realise I stay long hours in front of the computer because daylight is fading out… I always deliver on time and, if possible, before deadlines, which is why I am so attached to my desk every day!
What/who inspires you?
Oh! A lot of things and talented artists! Music; nature; pictures, design and culture from 1890’s and also from 1920’s to 1950’s; 1960’s French advertising; engraving, (which is my background); reading books and looking for information about illustrators and artists I love and admire such as: Francisco de Goya, William Hogarth, J. J. Grandville, José Guadalupe Posada, Maurice Sendak, Olle Eksell, Herve Morvan, David Weidman, Kiki Smith, Harriet Russell, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Jannie Ho, Hellen Borten, Elena Odriozola, Marta Antelo, Joanna Concejo, Anne Herbauts, Beatrice Allemagna, Silja Goetz, Mina Perhonen, Poly Bernatene, Gustavo Aimar, Isol and María Wernike.
What do you like to do when you're not illustrating?
Drawing, listening to music, reading, making illustrated embroidery, cooking, meeting with my friends and colleagues at home, (or just anywhere), going to exhibitions, travelling.
How did you get into illustration?
Ever since I was very young, I have always enjoyed drawing and reading. My grandfather Leon Untroib was a master in his field: He was a sign painter and cart ornamentor and he had great influence on me, mostly the way he used to paint with layers and layers of colour. I became aware of this just a few years ago. After graduating with a BFA in printmaking, I went back to my first love: the relationship between letters, (specially stories), and images. I knew I wanted to work in something related to that, so I took several editorial and children illustration workshops and became the most happy person, because I found that thing that makes me smile and I have always carried within me.
Any tips for aspiring illustrators?
Yes! Be very patient. Working as a freelance illustrator may take some time before receiving paid work. Work on your own style and do not copy other people's work. Prepare your portfolio very thoughtfully. Be fully informed about your rights and about what becoming a professional illustrator entails. Stay in touch with other illustrators and go to as many meetings, fairs and exhibitions as you can. Be happy, put your heart in everything you do and work hard every day. And good luck with your career!
What's your ultimate dream?
Having a lot of books printed by the best publishing houses; having my work featured in the catalogues of Bologna and Bratislava; doing editorial illustration; having my personal projects published soon, and something very, very important: Never stop dreaming, so that I can continue drawing everyday.
You can see more of Marina's wonderful illustrations in her PP portfolio, here.