Illustrator Carmen García Huerta on music, motherhood & Madame Bovary
Fashion illustrators draw from the blank page and create an atmosphere that lies somewhere between photography, cinema and literary fiction.
In a world where we are constantly surrounded by more and more instant, intimate and sophisticated images, fashion photography puts an established reality before our eyes, whilst illustration plays with the actual content of that reality.
Carmen García Huerta is one of the most renowned Spanish illustrators and, whilst best known for her fashion illustrations, her work goes beyond that, to create its own, recognisable universe.
Somewhere between photography, cinema and fiction comes illustration. Carmen García Huerta was selected by Taschen as one of the 100 best international illustrators. Her world is both unmistakable and surprising, with a unique attention to detail. Carmen’s work straddles two styles: the stylised and chic in her more commercial work, and a predilection for curved lines and the beauty of imperfection in her more personal projects.
In this interview, we hear from the artist herself on music, motherhood and Madame Bovary…
What is fashion illustration for you?
It’s quite an evasive notion for me, something like the minimal unity of elegance. A subtle yet, at the same time, complex expression of the whole web of design, trend, fabric, texture, attitude, sociology. In my case, the object gains a force and loses volatility, as my drawings are very consistent.
How do you see the world in day to day life?
My way of seeing the world is pretty much like my way of expressing it. I am obsessive and dreamy in general. Although less and less so, I think that is precisely down to what I channel in my drawings.
What is happening beyond illustration in the world of Carmen García Huerta?
Well, I am single, which I need – it is vital for my work. The only presence which does not change me or which even, at times, motivates and stimulates me is that of my daughter when she visits me in the studio, but only for a short time. I always have music on. I usually listen to intimate tracks by composers from classical to neo-folk, unless I have an urgent deadline. Then I put on power rock or epic soundtracks to speed me up a bit.
You have talked about how you find inspiration in the little things. Do you see them as a secret passageways to the bigger things?
I think there is a bit of both. God and the devil are in the details. And it is also a personal tic: I usually go from the specific to the general in everything, So having a global vision of things and then unravelling the parts, doesn’t really work for me; I easily end up getting hung up on a little detail. With drawing, that makes me immerse myself (in a good way) for a long time in a frill on a shirt, before having bothered to put the whole figure together.
When you were little, what could keep your attention for hours?
I was a very quiet child, introverted and dreamy. I spent a lot of time immersed in my father’s graphics library, where he had lots of books by strip cartoonists from the ‘70s, clearly for adults as they were about politics or soft porn. Perhaps that wasn’t the most appropriate for a child, and I didn’t understand anything that I was reading about, but I am very grateful to have had access to those as that is how I learnt to draw and get engrossed in reading.
What objects do you think are most representative of this era, which will be recognised when looking back from the future?
Now there is a return to the home-made and the artisanal, in perfect harmony with technology. But I don’t know what to say, everything that comes to mind is electronic. So, if I can’t mention a smartphone, I would say a selfie. I can’t think of anything which better expresses here and now.
How can we identify you as a Spanish illustrator – or perhaps that definition does not makes sense now in a globalized world?
I think that effectively it doesn’t make much sense, as from the beginning of my career I have worked outside Spain a lot, perhaps more than in Spain.
What young Spanish illustrators would you recommend?
I like Carla Fuentes a lot. I confess that I don’t really follow the new talent very closely that’s conquering Instagram. For years, I have admired illustrators like Marcela Gutierrez, Berto Martinez and Ricardo Fumanal.
If you could create the image of a character from a novel or film in your illustrations, who would it be?
Madame Bovary. In fact, that’s what I’m about to do.
By: Silvia Terron
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