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Interview With Christina Villanueva

Interview With Christina Villanueva

How did you get started in your field? I've always doodled in the margins as a kid and as a student, but professionally it started while working for the student newspaper at UC Berkeley, The Daily Californian. I did weekly cartoons for them and worked on a strict deadline, collaborating ideas with the opinion columnists and my design director.

After college, I worked in gallery administration but kept doodling on the side. In my spare time, I would draw comics for zine festivals, create works for small group gallery shows, or simply make doodles to post on Instagram. I eventually left my full-time job to do freelance illustration. I'm happy I was able to experience the administrative side of art business. It shaped my mindset from a fluffy dream into a concrete career.

 How do you get from idea to creation? The process is always different depending on what I'm creating, but there are a few things that remain the same. Keep sketches light, and focus on what you want to communicate. I try not to think too much about perfecting the image but about getting the idea across. It's very important to keep in mind that the ideas in your head will be very different than what will actually appear in the final piece.

 I sketch out the full composition on a cheap sheet of paper or on my drawing pad to see the sum of the whole. I start by placing the text first and then wrapping the images around. I embrace the accidents and messes that happen and tend to keep or explore them. After sketching, I work primarily in the final medium. In digital cases, I bring the art into Photoshop and work on my Cintiq tablet. I play with the levels to highlights the parts I want to draw as final.

On separate layers, I ink on top, starting with placing the broadest strokes first and then working on the itty-bitty details. I then get into color, also putting down the largest blocks of color first. After adding a few more details, I’m finally done with the piece!

Balancing what is ideally in your mind and what appears on paper through the art process is very much like balancing on a tight rope! But I end up with great results and ease of mind when I’m able to be loose within the constraints of my initial ideas.