Juan Casal Artist Interview

Juan Casal

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an artist?  What were your earliest impressions?
I don’t have a memory of that. It always seemed natural to me to draw. Nor did I ever wonder whether I was an artist or what I was actually doing. I just did it and I continue creating artwork.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
I come from a small town in Argentina, where art is something very small. There were no artists in my family. Cartoons on television were the first thing that caught my attention. They’ve fascinated me from childhood to today.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like?  Do you still have it?
Drawing was everyday for me. I had tons of drawings everywhere. I don´t believe any of them still exist. Maybe my parents kept some of them. Parents do that.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
Drawing was the activity I liked more than other things. I went to a technical high school where I drew a lot: blueprints and engine parts. I studied graphic design in university. Illustration added yet another element to my graphic design.

Did you study art in school?
I studied technical drawing and plastic arts in high school and graphic design in college. Drawing is a big part of my work nowadays.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art?  Do you have a source for your ideas?
I enjoy looking at the work of illustrators from all over the world. I also love historical art: ancient Indian, traditional Chinese, graphic novels, the Middle Ages, cartoons and modern art movements of the 20th century.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
A lot of work! First I need to think about what I’m going to do; what I want to represent. Then, I sketch until I find a style and an image that works. Finally, I clean the image up, color it, and make adjustments so the final illustration appears as I imagined it.

Do you have a favorite artist?  What is it about that artist’s work you like?
I love thousands of artists, many of the names are unfamiliar to most: monks who illustrated medieval books, cartoonists who spent days and days making characters come alive. Also, my many friends who make drawings, copy, and sell them for a few coins.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I always liked to fix things. It would be something related to dismantling and reassembling things.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
I have a very bad memory of when I was a kid. I used what all the other kids had. Nothing special. It really doesn´t matter which pencils or brushes you have. It’s about having something to say.

Do you have a favorite artist supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
When I’m working, what happens around me doesn´t matter to me, so I can be anywhere. I simply have to focus and get the mental image of what I want to do, then get it down on to paper.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I think my work always tells a story. The images that I create represent an instant in the midst of something that just happened. They often suggest what will follow. I see my images as completing a story; a story that continues on beyond an isolated moment in time.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
Illustration has improved its position in the labor market and also in the lives of everyday people. Luckily, nearly every day you see better illustration emerging because people are becoming more interested in the subject.

Why does art matter to you? Why should it matter to the world?
Because it is a way to create new worlds and present ideas that can´t be communicated in other ways.

If you could look back or forward one hundred years, do you think the life of an artist was or will be better than today?
I think today, the illustrator is much more respected than one hundred years ago. An illustrator is not just an “adult-child” who draws anymore. An illustrator is a professional who has studied many years to be able to tell a story, to present an idea, or to express a feeling through images.