Paloma Pedrera Martínez is a Spanish illustrator who came to England in 2013 to study for an MA in Illustration at Nottingham Trent University. She’s interested in children’s illustration and storytelling and created this beautiful artwork for the Operatives’ Libraries article in Issue 12: For it was Saturday Night. We spoke with her to celebrate International Women’s Day
Tell us about your life as an international student…
I think I always knew that I was going to study arts in some way. I graduated in Fine Arts by the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain in 2012. After that I considered to move here to study Illustration at Nottingham Trent University and to learn English and promote my work worldwide. I think studying abroad has been the most exciting thing that I have ever done in my life. It is a very open minded experience because you learn completely different ways of working and developing skills. It’s incredible how different it is going to an art school in Spain in comparison with UK.
You recently coloured a children’s book for Harper Collins. Tell us about the process…
I feel more confident working with digital tools, particularly if you are working in collaboration with the artist because you have to change things constantly. For this particular project I used Adobe Photoshop and the artist, Sarah McConnell, gave me references and ideas for the colour palette so my work basically was to take the most of the colour in every single page with a restricted colour palette but trying to make all of them different and exciting in some way. About the time, it depends on the illustrations; you can finish one in just a few hours but keep struggling with others for days.
How did you get to work with such a big publisher?
I considered myself to be very lucky because Sarah McConnell, who runs a Children’s Book Illustration course at NTU, was my MA supervisor and she contacted me after I had finished my MA. The MA was a great opportunity to showcase my work to professionals, build up contacts and develop my skills. I think the most important thing to do is to work very hard, use social media and adapt your work to the market that you aim to work for. The rest is just keep sending e-mails and take the most of every single project and opportunity.
You’ve illustrated the beautiful image for the Christopher Richardson essay we’ve embedded in Issue 12….
I think I worked on that illustration for two days more or less. My aim was to find the perfect layout to show the city of Nottingham and the characters reading at the same time. I made the line art with a normal black pen and the colour is mixed media: I used Photoshop and an old Nottingham map to create the texture.
What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?
The best thing is that I work with passion every single day, I’m so happy because I really like what I do. I would say that the worst thing is that I needed to move from Spain to work as an artist, there aren’t as many opportunities there.
Which artists inspire you?
I’m particularly interested in children’s book illustrators, I really like Jon Klassen, he is one of my favourites because of his narrative, use of colour and amazing layouts. I also love Marta Altes, she creates characters with a strong personality. The colour palettes chosen by Oliver Jeffers are amazing as well. Since I started working at Dot Dash Design I have also been very interested in print and pattern artists like Jillian Phillips or Teagan White
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m working at Dot Dash Design, a creative agency specialising in licensed character design and brand development. I’m learning a lot about the licensing industry and I have so much fun working there. Also, I’m collaborating with my degree colleagues in a monthly fanzine called Noseque mensual, every month we choose one theme to illustrate. If I find a bit of free time I also like to work on personal projects or just try to improve my artistic skills.
- Paloma’s Operatives’ Libraries illustration (dawnoftheunread.com)
- Centre for Children’s Book Studies (anglia.ac.uk)
- Christopher Richardson (leftlion.co.uk)
- Dot Dash Design blog (dotdashdesign.co.uk)
- Jillian Phillips blog (jillyp.co.uk)
- Jordie Bellaire on sparking Colorist Appreciation Day (robot6.comicbookresources.com)