Considering the wide range of your output (illustration, photography, video), how would you best describe your practice?
I cannot focus on any medium in particular because I love every one of them individually. Each skill has its own essence. The thing I like the most is working with them separately and then bringing them together, arriving at both new and unique pieces. My father is a shoe designer and I remember spending my childhood surrounded by sketches. Anytime my family went on holidays, he was consistently taking pictures and pulling inspirations from his surroundings. These childhood experiences sparked my interest in both illustration and photography. My father has had a major influence on my creative development.
Which form of expression do you feel most comfortable with and why?
My scholastic experience exposed me to a wide range of forms of expression. From sculpture to performance to digital arts, I have been involved in all sorts of projects though out my career. But sooner or later I felt I had to narrow in my focus. This is when I realized my true passion was for illustration and photography and when my quest to develop my own voice within these mediums began.
You started off drawing various representations of tribal patterns. Does this interest stem from a specific anthropological fascination or is it more of an aesthetic appreciation?
Both. I have always been interested in African tribes, the way they live and their social structures. I started off with the tribal portraits. I basically focused on the Surma, Mursi, Banna and Hamer tribes, mixing and matching elements from each to form my own contemporary reinterpretation. At the same time, I am also drawn to the aesthetic beauty of the material choices and ornaments. So rich and colorful!
You got commissioned to design patterns for the Spanish designer Manuel Bolano. Were you expecting your drawings to get this much attention?
I didn´t expect that attention when I started. It happened spontaneously. Nowadays it is very difficult to surprise people with something fresh, new and original and I’m proud of my work because I feel I can offer something unique. It takes a while to find your own identity, but once it’s been defined there are no boundaries to how far you can take it.
You’ve had some successful collaborations with Canada. How did this relationship come about?
For a while I felt that there was not much going on in Barcelona, so it was a surprise to see that they were doing so many great things. I initially stalked their website while developing a total crush on their work, but we were in the same city! I wanted to meet them and work with them so I just picked up the phone and called them. That was the beginning of our relationship. At that time I was working on a limited tee collection and I suggested they do my promo video – thus how “My First Love” took form. It was a very nice experience to work with them and feel all that energy and creativity in their studio. Last time I worked with them was last summer styling the dancers in the videoclip “White Nights” of Oh Land. They’re great and a lot of fun to work with!
More recently you’ve been working on American Apparel ads for magazines such as Apartamento and Pin-Up Magazine. How do you manage to bring your own vision to a company that already has such a strong image?
American Apparel is a great company open to new ideas. They take care of their employees and if they believe in your talent they help you grow within their system. I had the opportunity to work as a creative, taking pictures and developing new prints, so it was great for me to see how my characteristic style has been adapted within aspects of the brand worldwide. It is a pleasure to work for them and get the chance to do what I really love.
Ana Kras for American Apparel, Apartamento Magazine
What’s the latest project you’ve been working on?
I’m more into photography these days but I’m still actively drawing and working on how to further develop the “tribe” concept. Currently I’m working on a new series of black & white portraits within the series. I am also developing a multi-colored Afrika print for American Apparel and am really looking forward to seeing it printed. I can’t wait.
What do you think about the Spanish art scene right now? Anyone we should keep an eye on?
Fortunately, we have several cultural centers and nice galleries that try to maintain the art scene alive, giving opportunities to emerging talent. That being said, Spanish culture isn’t necessarily one heavily focused on Fine Art, so it takes a while and some extra work to develop a sustainable practice. Ricardo Fumanal, Sito Mujica and Jose Manuel Hortelano are really interesting illustrators that you should keep an eye on… and don’t miss Daniel Riera, Silvia Varela and Nacho Alegre’s photography, they are great and very inspiring to me.
All images : courtesy of David Gomez Maestre, visit : www.davidgomezmaestre.com