December 8, 2020

Let's Talk Illustrators #164: Andrés Sandoval

Today I'm sharing an interview Brazilian illustrator, architect, and muralist (among other things) Andrés Sandoval about The Invisible, written by Alcides Villaça. You'll see below how each one of those descriptors informs the way Andrés creates his illustrations, and it was so interesting to peek behind the curtain (or red vinyl in this case) to see how Andrés balanced a dual narrative. 

About the book: 
Do you ever imagine being invisible? What if you could go around and peek at your love without being seen? Imagine licking from auntie’s ice cream or munching at the candy shop with no one able to see you. This book invites you to play with a boy who is a master in the art of being invisible. Join him as he indulges this special talent—and witness his transformation when he tires of not being seen.

Let's talk Andrés Sandoval!

LTPB: When you saw the Alcides’s manuscript for The Invisible, what excited you the most? Did you know immediately that you wanted to use red vinyl between the pages?

AS: When I started thinking about this project, I was investigating books with colored vinyl and 3D images. The proposal for such a book in Brazil was expensive and complicated, but we found a viable solution that meant inserting and binding the vinyl between the white pages. When turning the red vinyl pages, the illustrations would take advantage of the annulment of some colors. When I received the first dummy--only with the vinyl--it was already beautiful. The colorful lights over the white page were already an illustration by itself.

My projects usually start from a constant stream of one project bleeding into the next. In addition to the colored vinyl investigation, I was also working on a mural made by stamp textures, monotyping, and sketch that end up being incorporated into The Invisible, enabling an artisanal and unfinished style that I wanted to achieve. 

At this time, I was also investigating color composition in offset-printing and engraving. I thought it was interesting that the images show the separation between the colors, revealing the process of the illustration making. So, I made a drawing for the green and another for the pink that, superposed, produced a spectrum of brownish greens. Using the vinyl and the study on the superposition of the colors, I succeeded in forming the visual narrative in such a way that each color was telling a different story interlaced with the other through the vinyl.

LTPB: What more can you reveal about the design of the book? What challenges did you encounter as you created it?

AS: First, I would like to comment on the cover illustration with the revolving door that the characters go through. The door is like the turning pages of the book, and starting from that image I created the others in the book. 

The challenge was to tell two sides of one narrative in the same illustration, each revealed when turning the vinyl. I started by drawing the illustrations in pencil, both green and pink, in a small dummy. I superposed the vinyl countless times until I succeeded in conveying the textual narrative. Focused on splitting the colors, I was also creating the graphic effects. In this first dummy, I’d solved the narrative.

After that, I moved to the final illustrations and the drawings themselves. Then I did several collages using textures and black and red drawings over a transparent vinyl. 

Like a musician enjoys composing music with a lyricist, I also enjoy working with authors. They are partnerships where the image talks to the open text and often can freely go without it. Part of my career is dedicated to investigating drawing and printing techniques in such a way that each invites its own language, coherent with the text.

LTPB: It looks like you do a lot of commissioned work and side projects! What else do you do in addition to writing and illustrating children’s books?

AS: In addition to my books, I have been working on artistic projects around the city of São Paulo where I currently live and work. I also do textile prints and murals. 

LTPB: What are you working on now?

AS: I’ve been drawing plants using colors like yellow and blue. I study natural shapes, like the movements of a lizard on a leaf. Even though I’ve been working with gouache, initially I was extracting the yellow directly from the turmeric, and the blue from the genipap. I prepare the paint based on this standard of colors.

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

AS: Every book is a kind of autobiography, even if encrypted. Maybe I would trust this mission to a geographer: I would ask him to draw only one letter, one crazy letter, one simple line that would follow my trajectory in space, since the beginning. It wouldn't be so hard, the roads are always the same. Part of this map-illustration would have deep grooves, others subtle lines that cross the Pacific. A scribble in São Paulo, a connection in Syria, a twirl in Santiago.

A big thank you to Andrés for chatting with me about this book! The Invisible publishes TODAY from Tapioca Stories!

Special thanks to Andrés and Tapioca Stories for use of these images!

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