Interviewing Angel Dominguez, illustrator born in Galdakao, Spain
Hi Angel, you´re an amazing and creative illustrator. We want to get to know you more to understand how you have become who you are, so when did you start drawing?
As a child, I filled an “O” with a pencil in one of my father´s books, I felt the letter was missing something. As a teenager I studied on my own, testing with pencils and pens, charcoal, ink, watercolor, wax, oil and on all kinds of paper and materials. I once painted on eucalyptus bark!
You draw what you want, animals, monsters, plants, etc. mostly on pencil, my life companion; I believe the most important tool, the one that creates the structure for all my works.
So you are self-taught?
Yes, self-taught is the word.
I drew non-stop, listening to music also non-stop. I spent many hours in the mountain watching insects and flowers. When I´m asked if I draw directly from nature, I answer “When it´s possible, of course” because you can draw an orchid, I actually have many in my field notebooks, but to draw a king fisherman diving for a fish… unless you have some pictures…
You learn with books, walking in nature, watching documentaries and visiting museums, travelling, etc. Like when I went to Jordan, where some flying bugs came close to my face. They were humming birds! There I realized that I was in a very far away, very special land.
You are most known for your watercolors and the details you pour into your drawings. Can you talk us through your work process and what is your favorite part when creating?
If it weren´t for the haste that distinguishes the job of illustrating, surely I´d say the best part is the beginning, with the creation of characters, the first sketches on pencil. But we have very short deadlines, so my favorite moment is inking the pencil drawings or painting.
We also have to highlight the anthropomorphic animals you include in many of your stories. How did you find your style?
Anthropomorphize animals is something I believe there are records from the Superior Paleolithic (some 40 thousand years ago). But I took into account English illustrators like Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham; it´s something so fun and creative I joined in!
I see you talk about two English artists, which other artists do you admire?
Arthur Rackham is my favorite, I studied him from the beginning; other great examples are Edmund Dulac, John Bauer and William Heath Robinson.
Another splendid artist, whom I admire since I was young, is Alan Lee, creator of characters and sceneries for The Lord of the Rings. I met him in person a some years ago, a great friend, very humble and affectionate.
I also met Brian Froud, the artistic creator of another movie: The Dark Crystal, whom I´ve also admired for a long time.
You´ve been illustrating for many years, what was a breaking point in your career?
Diary of a Victorian Mouse, without a doubt, because I believe my true passion is fantasy books, and this book, having been edited in England, was decisive. Then came Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland, edited in USA, it sold out and a lot of merchandising was done.
You´ve published successful books all around the world, in the UK, USA, Spain, Japan and even Jordan. Many of which have won prizes. Do you have a favorite work or have any of them a special meaning to you?
Diary of a Victorian Mouse, the first book I made in England and the one I´m most touched by, because it was commissioned by Lesley O´Mara, from Michael O´Mara books of London, when they were still unknown; she believed in me and I´ll always be grateful.
The King´s Gift, which I illustrated for Queen Rania of Jordan, is also very important to me.
The Jungle Book is also one of my most treasured, because I´ve always felt like Mowgli.
Another important one is undoubtedly Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland.
Two other books, made in 2016 (The Wind in the Willows) and 2018 (A Christmas Carol), are also my favorite in the sense that I’m very proud of the drawings, both edited by Books Illustrated.
Although you are more known for illustrating children´s stories, you also do wildlife illustrations, private custom commissions, etc. You are completely dedicated to illustration, do you see yourself doing another thing if it weren´t drawing?
No, I think I´ll be an illustrator till the end. Although I´ve always liked cinema, theater, clowns, being an actor, mainly making laugh, I’d have liked that to.
Talking a bit more about your personal life… Tell us your hobbies, how do you spend your free time?
It´s all very simple, walks in nature, something I enjoy since I was a kid, so that was my first “hobby”.
Also I watch movies on tv, I play with my cats, all enjoyed with my wife. But of course, I read all the books I can and I research about illustration techniques, which are endless and you always learn something new.
You live near the sea, surrounded by cats. What made you find an environment with nature so present?
The cats and the sea are inspiring, many funny ideas with the cats come to mind. One of them will be the main character of the book I´m doing right now.
Thank you Angel!
2019. Interview conducted by Laura Fernández