Drawing could be a genetic case for me. Both my mother and my grandmother used to draw and paint. I remember asking my mother to draw things for me when I was little, because “mum, you are just so much better”. Steadily I started to like drawing so much that they would take me to painting class for two and half hours only to continue at home for a couple more.
The school was in Toledo, Spain, where I lived until I was eighteen. And my teacher would spend hours reading the most wonderful, not-so-well-known tales by Hans Christian Andersen for us to paint. She would show us paintings by Cezanne to make us understand that apples weren’t only red, green or yellow, but that there could be hundreds of colors in each of them.
|Still Life by Paul Cézanne|
|© Emilio Urberuaga|
He has a wonderful colour palette, his style is simple, and yet his sense of light and heartwarming lines were amazing to me.
As I grew up I fell in love with two Argentinian artists, Quino who had this character called Mafalda, a little girl that knew everything about global politics and was worried about the earth’s health.
Quino has one of the best line work, empathy and humour I have seen on a comic in my entire life. I would copy the faces and expressions of his characters to learn how he did it. He is one of my favourites to this day. The second Argentinian is called Matt Matera, and he would paint these wonderful images defending animals’ rights and the environment. The colour of his images is fascinating to me and his line work transmits such a moving compassion for the character.
|© Matt Matera|
By the time I finished high school and started my career in International Relations, I discovered the illustrator Shaun Tan, whose captivating drawings and paintings gave me a whole new perspective on what children's book illustration was capable of.
|© Shaun Tan|
During my college years I interned for the graphic recording agency called Ink Factory Studios where I was able to graphic record talks and create motion graphic videos.
|Graphic Recording with Ink Factory for Chicago Ideas Week|
One of my teachers in college was certain that I needed to be part of a group called SCBWI. I had no idea what it was, but I became fascinated with it once I googled it at home. Since then I have learned so much about other illustrators, writers, techniques, materials and of course opportunities. I got into several contests, and I was lucky enough to be short-listed for one of them, Undiscovered Voices of 2016.
|Shortlisted image, UV 2016|
It was a wonderful experience that gave me the opportunity not only of being published for the first time but to get my first jobs in the field.
I am currently working on two children books. I always start by sketching and allowing myself to draw anything that comes to mind. Then I go through the sketches again and create a more defined drawing. I scan the drawings and create a storyboard, adding shadows and spaces for the copy. Finally, I trace the storyboard onto watercolour paper, and I start the final image.
These images then make a book, and thanks to SCBWI the possibilities to publish these or enter them in contests has become so much easier to navigate. As an illustrator I still have a long journey ahead of learning new techniques and meeting new writers and illustrators, but the SCBWI community has been, and is, the best travelling partner for it.
See more of Esther's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery
Her personal website is here. She can be contacted by email here.