Making a true piece of art is like doing the puzzles. You stand for hundreds of hours just staring at these disturbing, square elements and wondering: oh God, what now? Struggling and begging not to ruin it all. Gabriela Zurda, by listening to Gorillaz, taking what’s best from Braque and Leger (NO, they’re not the beer names) and putting all of it together with 50s cartoons – created The Cubism Cartoons. We don’t know how, but she figured it out pretty darn fine.
Who are you Gabriela?
I’m a freelance illustrator from Cartagena, a town in Spain on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, where I live and work. I mostly do work for editorial illustration; I have several magazine covers published. From time to time, I also get some job for advertising.
Are you a self-taught artist?
I went to an art school in Murcia to specialize in illustration, but I consider myself mostly a self-taught. My experience in art school was frustrating; yet I met a lot of nice people there, but teachers wasn’t professional illustrators and the subjects were too basic. I’d recommend to any aspiring illustration to go self-taught, especially if in your country you have to get into a lot of student loans for going to college.
So as a freelancer what mostly inspires you to create?
I’m inspired specially by Cubism paintings and American 50s cartoons. Also by some creators like Jim Henson, the Muppet inventor. I get my ideas by playing with an object in my head and turning it around, decomposing their different views and trying to show all possible details in a picture (like cubism painters did). Before I focused on illustration I was an architect student, so I apply the analytic way of thinking I learned in college, but combining it with some lateral thinking.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
It’d be a dream for myself to create a fictional music band, like Damon Albarn and Jaime Hewlett did with Gorillaz. I’d illustrate and someone else would compose the music… I know it’s not a viable project but wouldn’t be awesome?
I assume it may be a little difficult to focus when you work from home. Do you have your own ways to motivate yourself to work?
It’s pretty easy when you have a deadline and you’re getting paid, because one of my fetish is to pay the rent. Rarely the art director comes with an idea that might be boring (I’m sick of drawing Donald Trump), but usually they give me cool ideas and let me space to create. I like to have a topic to illustrate, because I have to do a work of self-knowledge and finding the way I see it, on a personal level. On the other hand, I’m terribly bad with personal projects. With those, it’s easy to get trapped in dray-dreaming and not getting job done. Anxiety hit me hard on that.
Your style is inspired by the past. But maybe you can name design trends you find most stimulating these days?
For inspiration, I like to look back in time to the first half of XX century. I love old advertising, photographs, cartoons and toys. I think they have a certain ingenuity that appeals to me. Nowadays I find that design is getting to cold, specially in some areas like graphic design, furniture or fashion. I’m more attached to old materials and textures (but even myself work with digital…). The current trend to simplify with plain colors seems practical but doesn’t have any charm.
Which creative process excites you the most?
I get more excited on the sketch phase, when I still doodling on paper and thinking on big terms of what would it work and what wouldn’t, or how can I picture this topic in an original way. The part where I work on the final picture is calming and relaxing, but I also enjoy it plenty. It feels like knitting a scarf. And I can have some music on this point, so it’s quite like a hobby.
If you weren’t an artist – who would you be?
As I commented, I was an architect student and I quitted to pursue a career in arts, but I’m not sure if I’d have continue with my degree. Maybe I’d try to be an interior designer, yet that still pretty creative I think.
Any tips for beginners?
Be practical and not naïve: Don’t quit your day job. This might be crushing to hear but it’s nearly impossible to make a living only with illustration. A day job also would let you more freedom to accept the kind of jobs you’d like and you’d feel way less stressed.