Jennifer Tapias Derch
(She/Her) • Valencia, Spain
Jennifer Tapias Derch, born in Colombia, studied fine arts and graphic design in Valencia, Spain, where she currently lives and works as a freelance illustrator. Using limited graphic elements in bold, two-or three-color compositions with black and white, Tapias Derch’s conceptual editorial illustrations are featured in newspapers and magazines internationally. Her designs can also be found in advertisements, on various product packaging, and more.Read more
The Washington post, The Guardian, CNN, Financial News UK, JKR Global, Air Transat, Shopify, The Atlantic, iNewspaper, Courrier International, Literature Spiegel, Dwell, MIT, The globe & Mail, Virginia Tech, Bompiani, Harvard Business Review, AARP, Consumer Reports, Huffington Post +Read more
An interview with
Jennifer Tapias Derch
Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?
I’ve always been very restless, observant, and to a certain extent, nervous. I never really imagined myself as an illustrator, but I knew that I had to overcome those concerns.
I recognize that I have a real interest in communicating this great knot of images, words, and concepts that surround me. I create my own language in my work.
It excites me to use a language to connect with people who don’t necessarily think like me or communicate in the same way I do. Included, are those people who don’t come from an artistic environment; they also have stories to tell.
Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
There are so many influences in literature, cinema, painting, dance, and theater. The surrealist artistic vanguard in painting, as well as literature, has had a major influence on me. My greatest influence has been the people around me though; those who surround me daily.
Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
Don’t think I’d like to see it now.
Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
Illustration came to me as a way to recount experiences from a conceptual vantage point. I’d say, as a profession, from the immediacy of drawing as a narrative form, I began to see that drawing filled me with passion and that’s what drove me, ultimately, toward it.
Did you study art in school?
I studied fine arts at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, in Spain. I finished my studies in 2010. I’m self-taught in graphic and editorial design.
Studying art introduced me to many ways of seeing and making. I’ve known lots of restless people like me who had varied ways of seeing the world.
Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
My inspiration comes from the uneasiness that I feel; the restlessness. My work is therapeutic. It allows me to synthesize a great funnel of disquiet that I translate into images. I try, as much as possible, to simplify my concepts with vibrant colors and soft shapes. I enjoy working with simple shapes and geometry to emphasize the conceptual value of images. I don’t use a lot of ornamentation.
How would you describe the process of creating art?
I’d define the creative process as a roller coaster. First, it springs forth in a natural, enthusiastic way with passion and joy. Then comes the obsession, hysteria, frenzy, chaos, and finally, calm. I’ve learned over time to keep my perspective through this process.
Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
I have several favorite illustrators. Illustrator that stand out in the 20th century; I’d say one of my favorites is René Magritte. Surrealism, in painting and literature, have been, by far, my greatest influence.
What I like about Magritte’s work is the conceptual aspect that transcends the limits of what’s real; creating fantastic compositions with just a few elements.
If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
Probably, I’d be an actress. Theater has always interested me. Being able to adopt different roles seems to me to be a passionate method of telling human stories through different characters.
Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
I don’t remember my first supplies. When I began to study fine arts, I recall being in a small room with a strong smell of turpentine where there wasn’t any more room for more art supplies.
Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
My method is to have my senses alert to all that surrounds me. I never separate a state of disquiet about even insignificant experiences or what I see. Ultimately, my experiences feed my creative process.
If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I would probably describe it as the starting point in a maze.
Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think that public awareness of this field could be improved upon. Illustration should be recognized as a visual way to interact with messages that surround us daily; whether political in nature, or topics of general interest. The editorial, advertising, and even decorative use of illustration is a vehicle for reaching society. Illustration engenders interest and presents ways of viewing topics of social interest.
Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
For me, it’s a type of therapy that allows me to translate my disquiet into images. Art matters to the world. Art becomes the necessary stimulus for a society. There is a need for alternative ways of seeing. Art involves playing with a visual language while maintaining an open mind.
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?
I wouldn’t use the term ‘better or worse.’ For an illustrator from a hundred years ago, just as for an illustrator a hundred years from now, there was and always will be the necessity to communicate.
Most likely, in a hundred years from now, the tools available to an illustrator will be different, just as the evolution from classic painting to the digital image has occurred. But the need to communicate remains.
Illustrating the future
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