FAQ

Cristina-Alonso-FAQ

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, 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 true. But remember that 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.

 

Favourite illustrators?

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 and her shapes.
Audrey Hepburn has always been my style icon, and I also love Brigitte Bardot and Marion Cotillard. Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr, Natalia Vodianova and Barbara Palvin are some of my favourite models.

 

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 info@cristinalonso.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 info@cristinalonso.com.

 

Can I use any of your existing images for commercial purposes/business?

Sometimes this is possible. Just drop me a line (info@cristinalonso.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?

Find them all at the Australian company The Dairy, here: http://thedairy.com/collections/cristina-alonso

 

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:

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Love Xx.

 

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10 Comments

  1. What are the best things/perks being an Illustrator? Is the salary of being an illustrator is well compensated?

    1. That’s a good question. Being an illustrator is not easy (the beginnings are difficult and this life is a Marathon that requires hard work and an intelligent perspective). Illustrators are not only illustrators, we are painters, designers, colorists, agents, creative directors… Manage all this is not simple… but illustration can be tremendously satisfying, because we make a living from our passion, from what we LOVE the most.

      Regarding the salary: as in every field, there are always good and bad clients, well-paid projects and horrible budgets. It’s a personal and professional decision to accept or refuse work if you believe that the compensation is not enough (and always keep in mind that accept low-paying jobs is a feast today, famine tomorrow).

      It’s really important to value our work and charge not only based on what it costs us to produce an illustration, but also having in mind the diffusion/exploitation of our artwork by the client (it’s not the same a portrait for a particular, than a poster for a huge billboard that will be reproduced everywhere, a million times, by a luxury brand). That’s key!

  2. I love your work, very inspiring, every time I look at one of girls, I take sketchbook and start doodling myself, that’s exactly what your creations make people do, create on their own. My biggest weak point is hair, I’m working on how I can make it wavy and flowing, I love how you combine digital techniques along with traditional, I’m a slow colorist, so I won’t be able to paint fast enough as it needs with water colors, and I don’t have patience with oil painting, so Photoshop saves my day, but I will not give up on heavyweight paper and a mechanical pencil, when you draw, it is as if you feel you creation coming to life, and that’s so satisfying, that personal touch in the beginning of a piece. I also follow your work on social media, especially Instagram, it’s amazing how well you can use social networking to promote your work. Very smart move. It is inspiring to read your FAQ, hopefully you will find time in you busy schedule to answer more questions..

    1. Thank you Maya for taking the time to write me such beautiful words. Read comments like yours truly inspires me and makes me feel I can transmit what I love. Thank you so much! :)

      I’m planning to do a small video tutorial about drawing hair, as many people have requested me to do this. Hopefully I’ll get some time to have the video online in less than a month. ;)

      Of course, I recommend you keep using all the benefits of digital techniques (work is always the secret to developing your style and improving), but I think the more you practice with analogue techniques, the more you’ll control all your work (in the past I only painted with traditional techniques, and although this was a slower work, the practice gave me a lot of security). You can end up coloring your work with Photoshop, like me, but all the work behind with pencil, ink, watercolor or any technique you love, is key).
      Never give up! From here I send all my energy, courage and I invite you to leave all the questions you have! I’ll solve all of them in my little free time, I promise! :)

  3. Just one question a bit “outside topic” – how come that your English is sooo perfect? Spanish aren’t usually very good with languages :-)

    1. Oh, thank you so much for that compliment, but my English is far from being perfect (unfortunately I make a lot of mistakes) ^^U. Working mostly with international clients forces me to practice every day, and I always try to do my best to improve my English: I study, I read, I watch movies an TV shows, everything I can do to get better results. Also I have a wonderful sister with an awesome English level, patient enough to help me to fix long text mistakes (thanks sis!).
      Thank you for stopping by, dear G!

  4. HI Cristina! It’s me again asking you some questions.
    1.In your world as a fashion illustrator, are their some fashion illustrators who works for other types of illustrator jobs such as in children books, comics etc.? If yes, does this give confusion to clients as to what specialty they are offering? Or it could be a possible advantage since they can work flexibly?
    2.Are their instances that you don’t like to draw something related in fashion and you wanted to try other themes/subjects (e.g. travel, architectural designs, foods) ?

    Happy Easter! Thank you!

    1. Hi lovely! How are you?
      Those are really interesting questions, but I think each illustrator / agent / publisher can respond you in a different way.

      1.From my point of view, I consider very important to have a strong, defined and recognizable style. As illustrators we have much competition, and our best weapon is to have a unique and special style (that’s the reason why a client will hire us). If we tailor that style to different fields (fashion, children, comic)… much better. However, I recommend building a clear portfolio, where all images have consistency and a link in between. The key is to maintain a delicate balance, where all your work can be recognizable as yours, but with different topics, flexible and versatile (a dream portfolio!)

      2. Of course! I love exploring beyond my commercial work, and I actually think that is good and necessary make different things to prevent blockages and improve. As a commercial illustrator, I don’t have as much free time as I would love to explore, so I try to add new things every time I can to complement my fashion illustrations (architectonic backgrounds, for example). In addition, there is no better practice to leave the comfort zone and test yourself.

      Hope this helps, Sandra! Have a great week! :-*

  5. Hi Cristina,
    You can’t imagine how much I like your drawing, illustration & your style.
    It is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It is magic
    & the way you combine digital techniques along with traditional is so amazing.

    I really admire your work & you inspire me.

    I have few questions,
    I’m having a business & I want to use some of your images, can you let me know how it works?!

    You sell some of your prints, are they only printed ( on papers)?

    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Best Regards,

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