Artist Interview: Elena Montoya Alvarez
Elena Montoya Alvarez is our first International artist – of many we hope! Elena calls from Spain, graduating from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, majoring in engraving/design. She also studied in Italy, where she discovered her passion for print making. Always hard working, she won 1st prize in the XLII edition of the Plastic Arts contest of Quart de Poblet (Valencia) with one of her lithographies, and is on the move again soon, to study print making in Poland. How she is not tired is beyond us!
With her brilliant Pingu Ville print just out, and some new Valentine's cards well-timed to come out next week, we caught up Elena to find out more about what makes her tick, where she gets inspiration from and, apparently, being poisoned!
1) Tell us about yourself Elena, what are you working on at the moment? I’m working on a series of litographies and etchings for a personal project and since I’ve joined Wraptious I can’t help but imagine how everything could look as a card or gift wrap. So I’m working to improve my skills as a graphic designer and show you some fresh, cool and funny designs.
2) How's life post-University? I graduated from College a few months ago so I kinda feel homesick. I was fortunate to meet amazing people there so I visit the Engraving floor often to greet friends and teachers and sometimes to do some express works. Now I’m studying English to get the B2 level First Certificate to study a Printmaking Master in Poland next year.
3) What's the most important thing you learnt from your degree? Well, this is a hard question because I learnt so many things not just technically speaking but in a personal level. The art world is hard, it’s full of amazing and talented people, sometimes it’s sweet, funny, lovely, charming and creative and the next day it’s like a mental war, frustrating, despairing and you’re totally blank so if you don’t have passion and truly love what you do, you can’t take this emotional roller coaster for a long time. I learnt to love and enjoy what I do, to work hard and never give up, to not be afraid to work with large or irregular formats, to have passion for my work to the point I consider Art my life. Above all, that that 24 hours in a day is not enough!
4) How did you get into art and design? I always loved drawing since I was a child and when I took the College entrance exam from the very first moment I knew it was to study Arts. I decided to study Engraving because I always thought it was a beautiful technique… guess never thought it could be that hard, haha. I got poisoned a couple of times due to all the chemical products we use and promised myself to never study again anything related with engraving and there I was the next year, doing my Erasmus in Italy picking all the possible subjects about engraving and design and did the same when I came back to Spain. I have to say I got poisoned a few more times (I know, I have no remedy) but then I figured out I really must love what I do!
5) Everyone loves penguins! Where did this idea come from? It was for a painting subject called “Composition”. I started checking ideas on google and saw a drawing that showed the steps of a penguin becoming a human and then a light bulb lit up in my head and I drew some sketches of the main character (Tomás) like if he was a guy with a penguin costume and thought that it could be cool to give personalities to the penguins. I thought to do my own version of Where's Wally, so Tomás would be my Wally and he would be surrounded by 100s of penguins that are animated representations of the actual population: the Cop penguin, the punk, the superhero, the Harry Potter, the Katniss Everdeen, the geisha, the emo, the nurse etc.
6) Where do you get the inspiration for your work? In general I like to check illustrations and photography on the Internet because my imagination always flies and it's like a spark that preludes a fire of ideas.
7) What's been the highlight of your design life so far? The penguins are one of my biggest achievements so far - all the people who know them love them, and I'm really grateful for that. Joining Wraptious is also like a goal achieved for me and makes me really happy to form part of the Wraptee family! And of course the 1st prize I won in the Engraving section of an art contest - it was the 2nd time I cried in my life with happiness.
8) Any illustrators or artists catching your eye at the moment? I'm absolutely in love with Audrey Kawasaki's work, her characters sometimes show like a dark or sad aura but she paints with that beautiful and soft palette of colors that turns the piece into a sweet poetry. She puts a lot of attention on little details, creating her own language, her own world.
9) And finally Elena, what 3 things can't you live without?! 1. The possibility of creating any kind of art, because art is like the engine that drives my life. No art, no life. 2. I can't live without music. Wake up with music, work with music, walk, take a shower, even to fall asleep.. 3. I can't live or sleep comfortably without my blue cushion. It has the perfect shape and comes with me wherever I go!