In conversation with Chilean illustrator Macarena Valdés who studied Design at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
For me the best way to convey an idea or concept is through images. I find it even more effective than words. That’s why I like to use illustration to develop my ideas, and communicate concepts. Since I was a child I’ve always been observer and I was always drawing everything.
Also, I’ve always had an special fascination for books. They seem to me an inexhaustible source of imagination because they transmit culture, inspire, teach and allow you to transport yourself to incredible places without moving from home. Even more incredible is this adventure when the books has pictures on it. They enrich even more the reading and makes more attractive this activity. This is why I got fully into the editorial illustration world. I published an illustrated book a couple of years ago with which I was able to develop deeply into the collage technique, and at the same time it gave me the motivation to keep working on that area. Currently I’m working on two more books, which contains different techniques, such as illustrations, collage and mix techniques. This is how, for me, art is my work, and at the same time my hobby and my medium of expression.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?, or how people develop their ideas.
Since I was a child I’m always carrying a sketchbook with me. I like this habit because I can draw different things that I see, listen or feel all through the day, and also for me, is the best way of putting my ideas on paper. I like experimenting and keeping the results there, because after a while I can see the evolution and the history of each image over the time.
The sketchbooks work to me as a kind of a visual diary, which I fill with drawings, sketches, colors, papers, textures and images of ideas that I see or inspire me. It’s like an inexhaustible source of work material!
Your work uses a lot of collage, can you talk about this and your influences or themes through your work?
A couple of years ago I began developing the collage technique, and since then I have worked different ways to evolve this technique, I started discovering incredible results and applications that I could do with my collages.
At the same time I came up with the idea of making a book, an illustrated biography of a Chilean poet, and I decided to write and illustrate it myself using the mixed collage technique.
Since then, collage it is one of my favourite techniques, I think the process is very fun and relaxing and the results are beautiful.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
Usually I start a collage when I have an idea on my mind, a situation or concept that I want to communicate. Sometimes I have ideas to convey, and the papers and cutouts help me graph it. But also sometimes I start a collage simply to exercise, I take a magazine or clippings that I have saved and I start putting together combinations.
My greatest source of inspiration are the magazines and newspapers that brings antique and historic photos.
I like start picking a color palette, after this I browse into my papers and cuttings, select different images, photos, textures and start putting them together trying different combinations.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
For me collage is more than an illustration technique. I think it’s a really therapeutic resource, because it allows you to create works of art from simple pieces of paper or cuttings that otherwise would be in the trash.
I must admit that, because of the lockdown, I’ve been able to develop this hobby much more than I did before. Due to all the time that I have because of the quarantine, I’ve been able to find new and more source of inspiration to work on.
Collage is an excellent way of letting your mind wander while you’re on it, that’s why I totally recommend it to withstand the crisis and the lockdown feelings. In fact, many people have written to me because they want to start doing collage, but they don’t know how to. This is why on my instagram account @lamacarenavaldes I will be constantly posting tips, recommendations and inspiration to guide and inspire them, so that they can venture into this technique that I love.