Luisa: I usually start by reading and rereading the text; I tend to work through potential images in my mind a lot, so I like to think on it first for a bit before I start sketching.I also start doing research on the subjects in the book and anything else that might be useful. For this book I had some recommendations from Mélina so I read E.E. Just’s biography and some of the history and context of events in the book. I also looked for historic photos and all the references I could find for specific people, ecosystems, places/buildings, etc.
Luisa: For me, what makes me love an image is, on one hand, the use of color; some artists use color in a way that connects directly to your emotional core and that is amazing to me. On the other hand, a masterful composition will keep you in the frame and lead you through the story, and that makes me want to read/look at it over and over. I think this might not be the same for everybody, specially if you have visual literacy, as it gets more specific as you learn and absorb new images, and also with time and the evolution of taste.
Luisa: Mélina’s text is deep and has a lot history behind it, so it’s probably the hardest I’ve worked at researching before starting to draw, and while drawing as well. It was a first to have so many images and stories in my head, to have this complete of a picture in my mind as I worked on this book.
Luisa: Not that well, actually! I have a website (luisaruibe.com), and I post occasionally on Instagram and Twitter (@lupencita) but I’m trying to improve and share a bit more.
Luisa: The most challenging part is the voice in my head saying “You’re not good enough”, “this is not working”, “it’s not nearly as good as -insert great illustrator here-“, It’s paralyzing at times and stops me from letting loose and producing more art, but at the same time it’s what keeps me improving because I’m never completely satisfied with my output. I don’t think there’s going to be a time when I look at something I made and say “Yep, did it, this is great” but I can keep working towards being a better artist every day.
Luisa: Something I like about this story (among many things!) is that E.E. Just kept working in spite of injustice, and managed to find likeminded people who were his allies. I’d say, find your people, they’ll help you grow.
Luisa: I’ve been working on my own books for a bit. I’m still learning to approach this from the author’s side, not just as an illustrator so it’s been slow progress, but hopefully I’ll get there in the end.