Each quarter, we’ll feature one of our illustrators on both this Blog and in ‘INSIDE‘, our Agency Newsletter, which you can subscribe to through the website. In their own words, some of the world’s finest illustrators will tell you how they work, why they became illustrators, what inspires them and why they love what they do. February’s featured artist is Omar Aranda. Over to you Omar….
“When I was 11 years old I discovered something that struck me. Near home, through a door ajar I could see some drawing lamps. One day, because I was so curious about it, I knocked on the door. A man opened the door and asked me what I needed. Very secure about myself, I answered: “Do you teach drawing?” At first this person smiled at me and then he invited me in. What happened next was one of the most amazing and wonderful things that has ever happened to me and truly marked my life.
Inside the house I could see a lot of illustrators working very hard behind their worktables and piles of comic pages piling up everywhere. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, my favorite characters, superheroes, all of them were just in front of my eyes!
Actually, the man that opened the door told me that that wasn’t a place where they teach how to draw, but that he could correct my clumsy drawings if I helped him with all the studio tasks; cutting sheets, sharp pencils, making pages boxes, and sometimes drawing some backgrounds, it was a fair deal!
So the years passed and I made good progress. The illustrator that gave me this great opportunity was Gustavo Trigo, without doubt someone very unusual and very unique. That moment is always in my memory.
With time, this strong passion for art was growing and I decided to study Fine Arts as a career. It was there where painting captivated me. Painting from easels, canvas and brushes, oil, turpentine, acrylics…. I could say a bohemian life, where I met the greatest illustrators, great teachers and friends. The money wasn’t something too important to me and actually it was really running short at that moment, so I had to search for new business options, none that I really liked. None that made me want to stop drawing.
In the night I dedicated myself to painting and drawing. Doing what made me happy. Of course, I didn’t get much sleep! Time passed and as I grew up, my passion for art remained. I also had a job at a video club. The money wasn’t very good, but it was a job that I enjoyed because I love the art of film too. Some of my paintings and drawings were hanging on the walls in the shop. One day a customer which I’d had some ‘discussions’ with because of his unpunctuality to return the videos, came in. He apologised about it and asked: “those paintings, who did them?”- “I did them” I answered and he answered back “ what a coincidence! I’m an illustrator too!” That man was no less than Carlos Meglia, a myth and master in Argentina! A very talented artist, he offered me his friendship and we have remained friends ever since.
After a while, I let him know about my wish to restart again in professional illustration and he recommended me to an illustrator who was looking for an assistant. He also had a studio.
Just to let you believe in coincidences, this man was one of the illustrators from the illustrator’s group in the studio from my childhood. His name is Alberto Saichann. A great illustrator, a great friend and now a colleague and partner. What do you think about that?
That is how I began again, and in a short time as an assistant, I left to search for projects on my own. One of my first commissions was for the Animaníacs comic from WB, that was at its beginning and they were looking for an artist that could do it. So I prepared myself, made a lot of sketches with plenty of nerves and anxiety and I finally got it. It was a great day!
Then came more and more commissions for Looney Tunes, some licensed arts, Disney and many others.
I know something is true – at 45 years of age , with a huge amount of publications and plenty of experience, I no longer believe in chances. I believe the effort we put in comes from the love for what we do and in total dedication and permanent giving.
I enjoy my work in just the same way as I did on the very first day. This happens simply because the career that I chose makes me happy. Every day gives me the possibility to increase my knowledge and experience.
If I have to imagine myself in 10 years time and what I’ll be doing, I’m sure I’ll be doing exactly the same thing. Maybe in a quiet place, far from the city, enjoying nature, on a farm, with horses and lots of dogs… but I can’t complain. Illustration gives me the chance to have a wonderful life, to meet great teachers and friends and to be happy…”
As you can see, Omar doesn’t just possess incredible talent, he’s always been a pleasure to work with. Here’s what two of our clients had to say about him:-
“As an author publishing a children’s picture book for the very first time, I had no experience, no knowledge, and quite frankly, no idea! But working with Omar and his team has been a pleasure. Apart from being a brilliant illustrator, he is professional and honest, making my job much easier than anticipated.
After spending three years writing a series of ten picture books, it was important that I trusted my work to someone who could see my vision. I sent Omar my manuscripts and within a few days he drew characters that were fresh and unique and a perfect fit for my stories. Omar’s application of light and color creates vibrancy and movement in his illustrations, and his attention to detail is exceptional.
I wanted a double-page map in the beginning of the book and Omar created one with such outstanding detail, children will find it simply fascinating. The map of my fictional ‘Land of Jack-o-Whisp’ is a three-dimensional stunner. It covers several small communities featured in the series and these communities are all different. As one’s eyes journey across the map, Omar’s architecture changes within every community. This man did his homework. He read my work and created the visual component. Everything in the map works with the stories, something that impressed the socks off me! After the map, the first illustration in the story is a night scene in a quiet street and this picture is simply breathtaking. This time, the use of color and light give this illustration a peaceful quality. This is the exact mood I wanted for this first page as it has to contrast dramatically with the chaos that comes later as the story unfolds.
Having no idea what the characters looked like, I left it to Omar to create, and create he did! Receiving the illustrations on a regular basis has been a delight. Omar has added a new dimension to my work and I am sure we will be working together for a very long time.”
Alexis Tapp – Author of ‘Jimba and the Bouncer-Bangerrings’.
“Omar is a pleasure to work with and has consistently produced some of the most beautiful and diverse illustrations we have published. His character development is very strong and his sense of humour shows through in much of his work. He acutely understands the market in which we target our books and therefore is one of our most trusted suppliers.
Paul Scott – Art Director, Hinkler Books Australia