Thursday, April 4, 2013

Superstar Interviews: Natalia Vasquez

Welcome to my new monthly interview feature! As an Illustrator, especially one who is a longtime member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, I am blessed to have a large circle of wildly talented friends, who are fellow artists, writers and designers. And I’m so excited to be interviewing them and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I am chatting with the very sweet and very talented Illustrator, Natalia Vasquez! Natalia and I are both represented by the fabulous Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau2, Inc., and we "met" for the first time online via Tugeau2's Facebook page. Our art and friendship connection is a lovely example of how fun and supportive social media can be!

Here's a little background on Natalia: She grew up in Peru, and studied painting at the Fine Arts School of Lima, where she graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts in 2000. She has been working as a freelance illustrator since 2003, doing art for publishers in Peru and abroad. Natalia works with a variety of media, including pencil, ink, watercolor and digital media. She thinks illustration is a wonderful way to express herself, while working with something she loves. She currently lives in Lima, Peru with her husband. You can visit more of her artwork here!

Natalia at Christmastime!

Q: Tell us about your various mixed media art styles and your process for creating an illustration.

A: It always starts with an email. =) It’s exciting when a new manuscript arrives! I give it several reads and do some research if there are some specific details that need to be accurate. Then I start working on the characters and graphic style. This is the most important stage since I’m always looking to have the characters and atmosphere reflect what I have in mind for the book…I doodle a lot when doing this, sometimes my desk ends up covered with pencil shreds! =)
I LOVE to use digital collages, but I also enjoy a lot working with more painterly styles. You can see in my portfolio I have several different styles. What’s important is to choose the right fit for every book.

Super hero girl to the rescue!

Q: You work with clients all over the world, from Peru to the United States to Europe. Can you talk about the similarities and differences between your various international clients?

A: This is a tough one! Yep, I work with clients from Europe and North & South America and all of them are absolutely different from each other! The one thing all they have in common—and I think this must be valid all through the universe—is that they all want the art ASAP! Sometimes it’s difficult to meet the deadline, but I like to always advise the client if I think some extra time would be needed, fortunately most of the times I can match the deadline, but I like to have those extra days at hand just in case. =) The main difference between my Peruvian clients and the ones from abroad is all about working online. They’re not that accustomed to having the illustrator send sketches, revisions or final art by email or ftp. Fortunately, though, they’re beginning to get used to it, but I’ve had a hard time getting them used to working that way!

Q: You have illustrated several books for children. Tell us about your most favorite book you have worked on and how it came to be?

A: I love each and every one of the books I have had the chance to illustrate, whether from Peru or abroad! Each one of them is always a challenge, and it’s always a nice surprise when I have them in my hands! I still remember the thrill I felt when I was commissioned for my first trade-book. It featured flaps and pop ups and came with a dummy so detailed that I immediately panicked! Fortunately, with some work and patience I figured it out quite easily. I still feel the same first-book thrill when a new manuscript arrives. =)

A selection of Natalia's published book projects. Pretty impressive, yeah?!

Q: What and who would you say has inspired your artwork the most?

A: I get a lot of inspiration from childhood memories, mine and my husband’s as well as from friends and the experiences of their little children. I’m always fascinated with how children grow, evolve and learn new things, and how strong their parents' influence is in all this process. To observe the peculiar in everyday stuff that would seem rather common otherwise. Everyday life—it’s an endless source of inspiration!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My perfect Sunday starts early! I wake up, make coffee with a little French press and have breakfast with my husband at a small table we have in our bedroom. On Sundays I do not have to do Pilates! Then I spend the morning reading, listening to the radio (old fashion style), and of course, no mobile, computer, tablet or whatsoever for me at all for the rest of the day! At noon, we open a bottle of wine while preparing lunch together. In Peru, the main meal is taken around 1-2 pm and it's called "almuerzo." After that comes the heavy work of washing dishes, but always with the help of my lovely husband! Then we can go out for a walk and get some ice cream or eat a local dessert, visit my father-in-law, who lives near us, or watch a movie (everything but dramas!) at home with homemade popcorn.
I like a sunny Sunday, but unfortunately it’s not like that all year round, but when the sun comes out, I really feel absolutely complete!

Peruvian lunch! Yummy!

Q: What are you working on right now and what can we expect from you in the future?

A: At this very moment I’m working very hard on my first books as an author and illustrator. This is something I always dreamed about. Maybe I thought about this as something almost impossible to achieve, but as days go by and with the huge support of my husband and the incredible work of my unstoppable agent, I feel the time is near and that brings me a lot of excitement and happiness. These books are a novelty book for very young children, a picture book with original text in Spanish that I’m at this time working on an English translation, and a super-fun story about a super-hero girl! I really love the idea of continuing to explore different kinds of narratives in the future, whether for printed books or electronic media. I think it’s something I would be working on very soon!

Thank you for being with us, here on Bird Meets Worm, Natalia! It was a pleasure!