I receive a lot of emails and questions on social networks from people asking me about my work and my professional life (sometimes other illustrators starting a freelance journey, sometimes students searching info for a school work).
Unfortunately, I don’t have as much free time as I would want to answer all doubts personally (believe me, I want to do it well and help everyone properly, but answering one by one is time consuming). That’s why I put together the most frequently asked questions here, hoping that this post can be helpful for you (or interesting if you are here just out of curiosity!).
If you have further questions, please, do not hesitate to leave a comment asking me: I will add them all in the post.
Well, here I go:
Where are you based? How old are you?
I’m currently based in Valencia, Spain, a wonderful city where tradition and modernity live together. I was born in 1989 (29th November) in Catalonia and I have lived in many different cities since I was since I was a little girl.
Where did you studied?
I have a Bachelor degree of Hispanic Philology from the University of Valencia, and I’m University Expert in Illustration from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Master Degree in Illustration & Design). I also studied a postgraduate course on Professional Illustration in the School of Art and Technology (ESAT).
Do I need a college degree/title to become an illustrator?
No, I think it isn’t necessary. Your work should speak by itself (and this is the reason why a client will contact you, not for your degrees). Work is key, developing a powerful portfolio is key, practice and hours are key, titles are not. (At least in Spain, Illustration studies are fairly recent, which evidences that studying illustration is not strictly necessary, not to mention GREAT artists in history who have never own a title).
However, and although I do not know a single artist who has attributed their success to their degree, I think all those years studying a degree gave me ‘something’ I can’t explain: specialized studies have helped me to face the professional world with more assets, that’s completely true.
I thank my ESAT and Master Degree teachers immensely for all the help, the enriching experience they have shared with me and how much they pushed me to do it better. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to study.
Likewise, you can get the most of certain tools, programs and materials with proper instruction, so I highly recommend training as much as possible in these fields. We, artists are (and should be) constantly learning.
But remember: a title is useless if there’s not a steady work behind it.
How did you get into illustrating?
More than a hobby, creation has always been for me a natural and necessary way to express my ideas and emotions: I love drawing since I can remember and I consider myself primarily a vocational illustrator. Since my childhood I have been always drawing, drawing and drawing (in those years, I didn’t know what ‘Illustration’ was, and I considered myself as a ‘painter’; but with time, I grew up and I realized that what I had been doing all those years were really illustrations –creating worlds and telling stories-, not painting at all).
After being graduated by the University of Valencia in Hispanic Philology, my heart was asking me for focusing on the artistic world. That’s why that same year I attended a postgraduate course on Professional Illustration at the School of Art and Technology of Valencia (ESAT), which radically changed and widened my former vision of Illustration. Since that moment I began exposing my artwork in a wide range of exhibition halls, galleries and social networks. In fact, thanks to the diffusion of my illustrations via Internet, several brands and publishing houses, contacted me regarding my work. And this is how it all began, combining my studies with my first professional jobs.
What is your process?
I love to work with traditional methods without renouncing new technologies (indeed, I prefer to get the best of each world: I can’t live without a pencil, but Photoshop is always a good friend of mine). It all starts, in fact, with a pencil: detailed graphite, ink and watercolour are fused toghether in a detailed drawing that I scan and colour digitally in Photoshop, adding scanned textures that I create. This contrast between techniques is what I love the most: it produces a very vibrant and fresh result.
What materials do you use?
Tools, materials? I published a long (very loooooong) post explaining everything, here.
What inspires you?
I’ve always believed that inspiration is the result of the combination of two factors: living wide open to the world around you, receptive as a sponge that absorbs all information that surrounds you, and hard and constant effort. This is the reason why I find inspiration from everywhere: from a conversation on the subway, in a good novel, in the echo of a song that resounds in my head, in a photography (I had something with black & white pics and perfume ads)… and of course, at my desk.
Just like every graphic artist also does, I have grown up admiring the great classical art masters, apart from nourishing myself of all the current arstitical movements I am able to, drenching myself constantly in their innovation and novelty. The idea is not coming to a standstill.
Which 3 words would you use to describe your work?
Glamorous, lyrical and feminine.
Mmmh, hard to tell. I like too many illustrators for choosing, but I have a real soft spot for Milo Manara, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Gil Elvgren, Audrey Kawasaki and René Gruau.
Who has been your favourite subject to draw?/Who is your favourite muse?
My favourite subject to illustrate is definitely women. It doesn’t matter if she is a model, an actress or a perfect stranger. There’s something poetic about the female beauty.
How do your collaborations come around?
It all starts with a mail from anywhere in the globe. Most of my clients find me through Behance or even Instagram, so I consider having a clean, eye candy and constantly updated online presence is very important (I update my Instagram account almost daily!). For all business and partnership enquiries, please email to email@example.com.
How do you combine your personal production and with commercial work?
I keep a very strict schedule and work many hours per day. Along with my professional projects, I try to, at least, have one personal project on development at the same time. When I have two projects overlapped, I work on one in the morning, and on the other one in the afternoon.
In addition, I manage my Fine Art Prints Shop and social networking (self-promotion), which is an important part of my job everyday.
Do you take private commissions (such as portraits or wedding illustrations)?
Please, kindly note that due to the tight deadlines of professional projects, I cannot work on particular commissions. I employ my mini free time working on my passion: my personal projects, drawing ‘for me’ and my portfolio. If however you would like to contact me about a large scale custom print of one of my current works either in my shop or that you have seen online, pop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I use any of your existing images for commercial purposes/business?
Sometimes this is possible. Just drop me a line (email@example.com) to discuss the possibility of licensing my artwork.
Do you sell prints?
Yes, I do. I launch mainly limited editions of selected artworks. You can treat yourself at: www.shop.cristinalonso.com
Can any Cristina Alonso Prints be purchased and re-produced in any form?
No, all prints purchased on my shop are for personal display only, and cannot be reproduced in any way. Thank you.
I’ve seen your phone cases online, where can I buy them?
Can I share your images on Social Media?
Absolutely! Feel free to share my work on your channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.) with non-commercial purposes. Just please add in a credit of @cristinaalonsoillustration / Illustration by Cristina Alonso. A hashtag #cristinaalonso or a link to my website www.cristinalonso.com is also greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I want to be a Fashion Illustrator, but I’m lost and I don’t know how to start. Any advice?
Reading this article can be very helpful: So You Want to Be a Fashion Illustrator? A time ago, Mary Winkler from Tuts+ interviewed nearly a dozen of illustrators (including me) about our roles and work within the world of fashion illustration. In this article she explores our histories in the way of project experience, what artists need to know to create fashion illustrations, what makes good fashion illustrations, and more! (a great mini guide to working as a fashion illustrator ;) ).
Hope all of this can be helpful, remember you can leave a comment below if you have further questions.
You can also check the following interviews and articles for more info:
- Guys + Girls London: Illustrator’s Interview with Cristina Alonso.
- Superior Magazine: #Talk with the illustrator Cristina Alonso.
- Tuts+: So You Want to Be a Fashion Illustrator?
- AACA: Entrevista a Cristina Alonso (Spanish).
- Proyecto Duas: 14 Q a Cristina Alonso (Spanish).
- El Arquitecto de Ilusiones: 10 Preguntas a Cristina Alonso. (Spanish).
- Müfintime: Lírica y moda. Los cuentos de hadas de Cristina Alonso. (Spanish).
Thanks for stopping by!