César Samaniego with his cat Lío.
In our last post we introduced you to the work of the illustrator César Samaniego.
César has worked for different publishers and in many different topics and in today’s interview, the second and final post dedicated to his work, he discusses with us about his work. We are sure that those of you who want to become illustrators in the nearly future will find this interview interesting.
H.J.: Where did your passion for illustration come from?
C.S.: It came through a friend and through my couple, they encouraged me to join the Llotja Art School. But it is also true that I always liked to draw, my father was an illustrator himself so I grew up close to that world. But for no specific reason it turned out that I started my studies in illustration a bit older, already being married and a soon to be father.
H.J.: Is it hard to live as an illustrator? Have you combined it with other eventual jobs?
C.S.: I believe it is not harder than making a living with any other jobs. At the beginning it is hard, because it is difficult to get your first clients, but as time passes and if you work hard, you may get a few of them and that implies work for all along the year. I work together with my couple and we have a shop in Barcelona where we sell children clothing made by us. This year has been the first one that I really need to be a full time illustrator. But that is almost impossible, so I sleep not so much and there are no holidays…
Babyfire by César Samaniego.
H.J.: Is it important to have good teachers and mentors or the self-learning process pays back more than anything else?
C.S.: When you start at school you do not have a clue on what is going on. Then it is necessary that your teacher is able to stimulate you and knows how to put you into the right path for what is going to be your profession. After that, you are able to see by yourself where do you want to go and you look for your own references and learn whatever arises your curiosity. School puts the base, the rest comes out of you. That has been my case, because I also know some professionals totally self-formed and they are really, really good. At the end it will always depend on your learning appetite.
H.J.: Do you think that getting a spot on your own into the illustration world is particularly hard nowadays or, on the contrary, do you think that the new tools offer more opportunities to the artist?
C.S.: If by new technologies you mean the digital platforms (facebook, instagram…), no doubt on that. Now your work can be seen anywhere around the globe immediately. In my opinion and for what I see and read it seems that the illustration art is going through very sweet times. When I say illustration I refer to the most general perspective because, sometimes, it may seem that only the illustrated book or album exist, and that is not true. There are out there many different disciplines like the animation, video games, comics, scientific illustration, text books… They are there even if over looked many times. A different topic would be how easy is to live out of them.
Rana (Frog) by César Samaniego.
H.J.:Tell us about the effect of the critics on you. Was it helpful, demotivating? Who where your first public?
C.S.: It turns out that my first critic was really good. It came from the journal “Faristol” (clijcat.cat) and it referred to my first book “The black castle of Mr. Bogròs“. I was very happy to see my work appreciated. My first public was, no doubt on that, my family.
H.J.: Where do you get your inspiration from? What do you do on those days where nothing seems to work fine? (questions made by Elisabeth and Sandra in our last post)
C.S.: Ufff… that is a difficult one. Inspiration comes from everywhere, but to be true, I have almost no time to prepare many different options for an illustration when, for example, working in a book. I use to go just for one option, so the first one that I imagine is the one I develop a little and there I go on. Many times, the story says something and the final illustration ends up being a bit modified by the changes.
Those days where everything seems to go the wrong way there is no more option than keep trying until it works out. You can always stop for a moment and drink a coffee or a tea, but then…back to work!
Sant Jordi by César Samaniego.
H.J.: What is your opinion on the use of traditional drawing techniques vs the digital ones?
C.S.: The digital techniques meant to me a faster way to paint and to deliver my work. Not having to scan, being able to erase something you made with just one click… that is wonderful. It is true that the traditional techniques have a sort of warm feeling that I still did not match with the digital and that, of course, you will always have the original.
I miss working with acrylics. Sometimes, when I have time, I paint small paintings…
H.J.: What are the differences between working for traditional publishers and for digital ones?
C.S.: The only difference that I have found is that with traditional publishers you just give your illustrations once they are done and that is all. With digital ones you must give your illustrations by layers (background, first plane, second plane…), with dismembered characters so they can animate them, etc. It implies a bit more work but the final result is astonishing.
H.J.: What is your illustration you feel more proud of? Why?
C.S.: I hold dear to my Pinnochio illustrations, the ones not published. They changed the way I work in a manner I still maintain. But there is not a single illustration I am more proud of, actually, a time after finishing them, you would completely change them!
H.J.: According to you, what are the main qualities that a future illustrator should possess?
C.S.: A lot of tolerance to frustration, because there is an enormous difference between what you see in your mind and the final result you actually achieve. Perseverance to get the technique that will allow to make that illustration as close as possible to your vision. Patience, because it seems that this problem will be there always and last but not least joy, because if you are not happy with what you are doing, everything will go upside down and the other qualities will go then to hell.
Batfat by César Samaniego.
H.J.: What would be your advice to someone that wants to become an illustrator but has not been able to publish any of his/her works so far?
C.S.: He/She must keep working hard, stop drawing. I will recommend to him/her to join some course (I am now in an online, with Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, Pixar former artists, and that course is fantastic). He/She should also update his/her web often (although I am not the best one to say that…). Is good to have a well organized book and to send it to the art directors from the publisher you would like to publish for. Above anything else: keep insisting, be almost obsessive into achieving it, because at the end you will find someone that will publish your work.
H.J.: How do you see the future of illustration in 20 years from now?
C.S.: If it keeps the way it is now, I see a good future. There will come crisis, but we had them before and always went through.
H.J.: Answer in few words:
How many hours per week do you work in your illustrations? Around 40.
The best moment for working is… early morning. I wake up at 5 a.m.
The artist best ally is… perseverance.
And his worst enemy… procrastination.
Who is your favourite illustrator? Way too many.
Name a book you would like to illustrate… I would to illustrate a book with one year in front of me to do the work, and paid in advance. But if you ask for a specific one, “The Big Friendly Giant” from Roald Dahl.
We hope that you enjoyed as much as us the work of César Samaniego, and that his advices and experience will be useful for other illustrators. Do not forget to take a look at his personal webpage, his Instagram or his facebook to discover more of his work.
Thanks to her comment in our last post, Elisabeth won the dedicated illustrator from César Samiego. She has been already contacted by Hidden Jewels, congratulations!