Martin Tognola Illustrator Interview

Martin Tognola

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?
I don’t remember exactly when I realized I was going to be an illustrator, but I was very young; probably around six years old. I’d draw all day long. My friends worried when they finished school about what profession they’d choose. My choice was easy: I was going to be an illustrator.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
Cartoonists from Argentina like Quino, Fontanarrosa, or Caloi that I’d copy from magazines and newspapers when I was young.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
My grandmother had a folder for all of my drawings when I was a child. In my parents’ house, there are still several framed illustrations.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I studied graphic design originally, but I left school because I was bored.
Then I vacillated between wanting to play the piano and wanting to draw. For a while, I combined both, but finally I realized that my passion for illustration was stronger. All I wanted to do was to draw.

Did you study art in school?
No, but I took several workshops in painting, illustration and sculpture over the years, actually, since childhood.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. From a movie, listening to music, traveling, while I’m in a bookshop or even when riding my bike. Ideas get real when you pick up a pen or pencil and start to draw.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
Once I read an article, I create lists as I look for metaphors. Then, I sketch my ideas. Sometimes an image comes to me based upon the theme of an article but I don’t know if it will work until I begin to draw.

Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
I haven’t only one favorite. Illustrators, painters, musicians, filmmakers, writers; they’re all on the list.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
It’s difficult to imagine my life without drawing. When I was younger, I would have liked to be a musician. But now, I’d probably work with wood.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
When I was four years old, I was ill for two months. My Grandma visited me every day and always brought me something that I could draw or paint with. I still have a 24-color pencil box given to me as a present by my parents when I was twelve years old.

Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
Since I use an iPad, I can work almost anywhere, but honestly I prefer to work in my studio because it’s the best place to create. On the other hand, I love to travel with a notebook; taking notes. I like to carry an illustrator’s travel kit, with a pen, watercolors and Pentel brushes. Drawing directly is exciting.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I don’t believe it’s necessary to provide any clues. I often try to impregnate my work with a good mood and I hope that it’s transmitted.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think illustration is present everywhere and that’s good. Sometimes illustration plays an important role, helping to form opinions and creating a reason to think. Even so, there’s work that should be done so that illustration, like any other illustratoric discipline, has greater value.

Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
Art is something that’s very important in my life. It’s present every day. The world is more beautiful when there is art.

If you could look back or forward a hundred years, do you think the life of an illustrator was or will be better than today?
The life of the illustrator has always required great commitment. A hundred years ago, illustration was the only graphic resource available to communicate anything. I think today is certainly a better time to be an illustrator than a century ago.
I can’t imagine how could it be the life 100 years forward. Everything change so fast.