A sea of people and a hybird of odd characters populate the scene from edge to edge; each figure tells a unique story that interweaves a mysterious narrative between sci-fi and mythology, but all revolving around the female theme. These complex visual tales accentuated with bold colors are the work of up-and-coming artist Clara López, born in Santander, a city north of Spain. Clara began to draw since early childhood and continued as an adult. Growing up, she was taught to love art as evidenced by her books, desk full of drawings and scrawls, which she felt embarrassed by.
Drawing was a way for her to communicate, escape reality and tell tales through visual communication. After finishing high school, Clara’s path took a turn. Seeking a career that provided financial security, she pursued a Pharmacy degree but didn’t like it. Feeling like an outsider, Clara quit her job and enrolled at The University of the Basque Country to study Fine Arts. Clara was happy for a while but realized that art was going to be a difficult career choice. After finishing fine arts education, she stopped drawing for a while to work and earn money. The biggest issue for Clara was to earn enough money to get by and continue to create full-time. Between solitary work and struggling to always be inspired, Clara sometimes asks herself, “Did I make a good choice?” Nowadays Clara is still fighting against that issue with paint on paper — and the results have proved a resounding yes.
Tell us about your personal background as an artist?
CLARA LÓPEZ: I was born in Santander, a city north of Spain. I began to draw since childhood, as any other child I suppose, but I kept on drawing over the years. Since an early age, my mother taught me to love art. At school, my books and desk were always full of drawings and scrawls, which I felt embarrassed of. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t avoid it. Drawing was a way for me to escape the reality, tell tales, and communication. Art was always present in my life, rather as a hobby. I didn’t consider studying fine arts until stumbling several times on my academic career, since following other paths. After realizing what I really wanted to do, I started a Fine Arts degree at The University of the Basque Country. Since then, I specialized in drawing and illustration.
What was it like growing up in Spain?
Living in Spain has pros and cons I suppose. It may sound slightly topical but the thing that I like the most is food, hahaha. Sadly, Spain is not the best place to be an artist. In my case, I find it difficult to develope my artistic career because in my opinion, art is underestimated and not well-paid. In general people are not truly interested in art. My favorite place is the city I’m living now, Bilbao. I studied here and had a real good time. After finishing my degree I left Bilbao and lived in other places but a few months ago I came back because I really like this place.
Being an artist, what are some of the struggles you had to overcome?
Well, after finishing high school we all were looking for the right path opening to job opportunities, so I started Pharmacy but actually I didn’t like it at all. I felt like an outsider and I needed to find myself and know what I really wanted to do with my life. I quit and started Fine Arts. I was happy for a while but I realized that it was gonna be hard. I think this is the big issue, earn enough money to get by and going on creating, working full-time, and only few people get it. It’s a very solitary work, and it’s hard to be inspired all the time, so sometimes I ask myself, “Did I make a good choice?” Nowadays I’m still fighting against that issue.
Where do you find inspiration?
I have always been keen on Sci-Fi and all related to astronomy. I find inspiration in Sci-Fi movies, books, mythology. I love introducing characters from these topics in my drawings, mix them with other elements or ordinary people. Sometimes they merge and result in hybrids who own both parts.
How would you describe your personal style?
I find it difficult to describe my personal style. I would say that it’s figurative and expressive, although I would describe it otherwise in a few weeks, if you ask me again.
Your work features a crowd of figures across the canvas. How do you use the human form in your art?
I have always been interested in human shape as a leading role element of the story. I usually get inspired by experiences, sensations or even dreams, and human shape, specially the female one, is to me, the best way to tell those stories. Aesthetically speaking, I enjoy drawing bodies, sometimes they’re hybrids, I like to add legs, eyes, etc. but it all revolves around a woman theme.
What is the story or narrative in your art?
Each one of my drawings tell a lot of stories, each character appeared on it has her/his own circumstances, her/his past. I like making complex plots, so that the observer has to stop and stare, discover all the details and imagine what the reason is that these shapes behave like that. They’re always in the middle of an action.
What has been the reaction to your work so far?
There are either people who like it or feel frightened by it. I’ve been told that my illustrations are impressive and tough. Everyone has its own perception, and this is curious. Actually, I don’t try to transmit anything in particular. I like that different readings are done.
Tell us about your creative process.
My creative process is quite random, I don’t follow a guideline at all. It depends on whether I am on a personal project or an ordered one, where I try to be more disciplined. I surf the Internet, read books to look for inspiration. I make a bunch of sketches, then I choose the final image and redo it as many times until I am satisfied with it. When it’s about personal works, I let myself flow, so the process is different every time. At the moment, my day to day routine is pretty monotonous, basically drawing the whole day. Some days, I try to set a schedule, but I end up working more hours than planned before. I do try to save time for a stroll and rest, because drawing takes up most of my hours, and time passes without noticing.
What are some of the challenges and benefits artists face today in the new digital world?
I think nowadays artist can reach interesting tools for self-promoting and spreading his/her work. Internet is a great way to showcase and discover other artists from all around the world. It would be impossible to know them otherwise. The drawback about it is this huge competition generated. It’s way too hard to stand out. I try to be active in social media which are the main tools I use to show my art, to be updated with the proposals, calls, events and so on, and of course to be in touch with other illustrators or editors. I also focus on being myself and work on my recognizable style but, the truth is, that it’s difficult to stand out so I simply keep working hard and gain experience.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on several projects right now, such as the 5th issue of Pan de Molde fanzine, together with Y Peluda collective (which I belong to), this is the oldest project made by the collective. Some exhibitions are coming as well. And beyond that, I work on my personal illustration and projects.