Since I moved to San Francisco Bay Area I had the chance to meet a lot of talented and inspiring artists. And the great thing about this is that I have the chance to share more about them here with you. Since Abduzeedo is all about sharing inspiration and introducing new artists, nothing better then interviewing the amazing people I got the chance to meet. Today I will show you more about a very talented illustrator from Barcelona, Cristina de Lera, which style is delicate, beautiful and packed with personality.

Cristina is an illustrator from Barcelona that is currently based in San Francisco. She studied Art History at the Barcelona University (UB) and Illustration at the Design School BAU, also in Barcelona. Her work is super stylish and unique. The colors, delicate lines and cartoonish characters expressions in her artworks conquered my heart and will certainly do the same with you. Enjoy the interview and some artworks we will show here!

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Where to find Cristina:

Want a Custom Portrait Illustration? Cristina can draw one for you, check out how to get one. ;)

Tell us more about you, your interests and about the things you like.

When I'm not drawing, I enjoy cooking, listening to music, writing, walking and taking photos, and traveling. I'm fascinated by history and other cultures. I always have the Why question in my head. Maybe that's the reason I studied Art History (you have everything I like there: traveling to other places of the world through their art!) :D

Interview: Cristina de Lera

When did you start getting interested in illustration? Did you like drawing since you were a child?

I always liked arts and crafts. My first memories are making pottery when I was around 6 years old. I loved it! I was fascinated to make things with clay! That phase lasted around a year, I don't remember how it ended. But that moment is when I changed clay for color pencils and I never left them. I started getting interested more seriously when I was 14, and I've been self-taught until I began attending workshops by illustrators at Escola de la Dona in Barcelona, while studying the Art History degree at the university.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Was there a specific moment when you knew what career to follow?

After finishing the university degree, I realized that I wanted to work as an illustrator. In that moment, and thanks to the previous workshops, I was selected to course a Postgraduate Degree in Illustration at BAU Design School, where teachers are professional very talented illustrators, such as Berto Martinez, Conrad Roset, Chidy Wayne, Carmen Segovia.

What inspires you?

Everything inspires me! Most of all, I love to draw people, and I think a good definition of my style is a mix of cute and vintage. Since I was born in the 80s, I love the pop culture of that decade. I also have a strong influence by memories of my childhood, such as japanese manga and anime. I love the kawaii characters of Japan! And another huge influence on my work is Art History. It helped me to notice the structure in the paintings composition and the choice of colors.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Do you have any specific artists/styles you like to use as a reference?

The styles that influence me are related to children's picture books, where you can find a lot of color and a variety of compositions in the storytelling. I always have the art of the 19th century and the first half of 20th century as a reference: the Pre Raphaelite painters (John William Waterhouse, John Everett Millais), the French and Catalan impressionists (Edgar Degas, Santiago Rusiñol), William Turner, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, the Bauhaus, Pop Art. Some illustrators that I admire: Marc Boutavant, Aurelie Gillerey, Oliver Jeffers, Ben Javens, Gemma Correll, Julia Bereciartu, Natascha Rosenberg, Irena Freitas, Isabelle Arsenault, Amaia Arrazola, Phillip Giordano, Paloma Valdivia, Bubi Au Yeung, Carson Ellis, and Japanese illustrators and artists such as Hayao Miyazaki, Taro Gomi and Yoshitomo Nara. I can't say them all, it's a list that never ends. Literally! This is a board on Pinterest where I pin every illustration that strikes me for some reason: http://pinterest.com/cristinadelera/illustration/ And this is my own work board: http://pinterest.com/cristinadelera/my-illustrations/

Interview: Cristina de Lera

How is your creative process? Do you have a step-by-step routine you like to follow or you do things as inspiration strikes?

I don't have a routine when it comes to art. When I have an idea, I usually draw it. I always scan my sketches, so if I want to work later with them in Photoshop, I have them ready. Most of my work is not digital, so when I finish scanning, I take the sketch, I trace it on the paper with the help of a lightbox and a hard pencil, and then I ink in or I leave the pencil, depending on how I want the final result. Then I apply the watercolors.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

How long does it take for your work to get ready? Is it a continuos process or you do it in parts?

As I usually work with watercolors and ink, I have to stop in different moments of the process to let the paper dry. I normally work with one illustration at a time, unless it is a series of illustrations where I use the same colors.

What are your work tools?

Pencils, markers (Faber Castell PITT Artist pens and Sakura Pigma Micron), watercolors (I use Winsor and Newton half pans), Escoda brushes (sable hair), Winsor and Newton black indian ink, Fabriano watercolor paper for the traditional illustrations. Sometimes I use gouaches (Talens). My digital tools are an iMac 27 inch 2.9MhZ, a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, a printer with scanner (HP Photosmart 5520) and Photoshop.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

What do you like most about your work?

About illustration I love to put into paper what it's in my head. Another thing is that it has never ending possibilities. I mean, always there are new things to learn and explore.

About my particular work, I like to pay attention to every detail. I'm such a perfectionist! In fact, I never feel my illustrations finished, in some way I just stop adding details. I try to make my drawings in a way that inspire happiness.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

What are your favorite books and websites about illustration?

One of the first illustrated books I bought myself was Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant. Another great book is Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia. The city series "This is..." by Miroslav Sasek. Any book by Oliver Jeffers. "The Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm" with great illustrations, vintage and modern. Any book by Shaun Tan. I especially love "Eric". I check regularly Illustration Mundo, Illustration Served. Another great illustration blog is Pikaland. I also follow great illustrators and I discover new ones in Flickr, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Where the magic happens?

At my studio at home.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Do you think that living in SF helped your career?

I have positive thoughts that it will definitely help. I've been living here for 5 months and in this time I had 4 commissions. I've realized in San Francisco illustration is much more appreciated, art and creativity are more valued.

Do you think there is a difference between the design community here and in Spain?

Is soon to draw conclusions, but for now I've realized that there is more market here in San Francisco and that gives more opportunities. Also there is more public interested in illustration, although increasingly, in Barcelona (I can speak about my city) there are many illustrators, curators, journalists and galleries, a lot of young people, willing to change this situation.

Interview: Cristina de Lera

Where to find Cristina:

About the author of this post

I'm Gisele Muller, someone who loves communication, design, creativity, technology and everything in between. A brazilian current living in San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Twitter user: @gismullr