Juan Bernabeu is a publishing and picture book illustrator trained in Valencia, Berlin and Italy.
He works the line, the point and the color patch with a notable influence from the screenprint.
Select Client LIst:
The New Yorker, The New York Times, Penguin Random House, This American Life, Texas Highways Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, John Hopkins Magazine, Marshall Project, Pennsylvania Gazette, Propublica, Proto, Tablet Magazine, Variety, Tor.com, Rizzoli, Emergence Magazine, New Mexico Magazine...
Interview with Juan Bernabeu:
How old were you when you first realized you wanted to become an artist?
I think the decision was made slowly over the years. I was always related to art and crafts. I drew a lot and painted in oils from a very young age. I studied object and furniture design thinking that this was the place but later I saw clearly that illustration is the way I wanted to experience art.
Do you still have any of your early artwork?
Yes! Hehehe there are still some oil paintings at my parents house. I also remember that my grandmother kept a little piece of paper on which I drew a palm tree that was close to home.
Have you studied art formally?
I have attended very different formations always linked to drawing. From comic workshops, oil painting, my university studies in art and product design or a Master of Editorial Illustration that I did in Italy. I feel lucky to have been able to train in such diverse fields because they give me many tools to face each phase of the project.
How did you arrive at your current style. What techniques inspired you?
I am passionate about lines, drawing, monochrome images and the color of paper. When I discovered screen printing I learned to give color, freshness and movement to my images.
What are the sources for your inspiration? Do you have a muse? Do you have a process you employ to generate ideas?
When you are very involved in a project, ideas can come from anywhere. Any situation in everyday life becomes the trigger. However, I don't think it will come by magic. You have to have done a great job earlier. Reading, writing, drawing and sketching, many coffees... :) It's funny but I usually write a lot in the creative process. Single words, emotions or describe images that come to mind while reading the text.
What clues might you provide to help viewers understand your art?
I like what happens when you combine the image with the text. When the concept of a text and the concept of an image come together to create a third more powerful idea. So I would invite the viewers to contextualize the illustrations to get the most out of them.
Do you have cultural references to which you gravitate?
I really enjoy the time I spend looking at and researching old prints, serigraphs, little illustrations from old books. I am also very influenced by the aesthetics of the posters of the early years of the 20th century. Well... I will tell a secret. I am passionate about the illustrations that appear on old matchboxes. They are mini treasures!
How do you set up your job when you get a new contract?
The first thing is to fit it into the calendar and set times to be able to reach the dead line without problems. Then launch into the creative process. The creative process is not very mysterious. It is like a path that is always repeated, with many variables in details or in time, but basically and broadly speaking, it is always the same. Beginning with documentation, organization of information, brainstorming and selection of ideas. I have a trick that works quite well for me when illustrating some text. I try to synthesize all that text into one word and then to throw ideas around it.
What tools do you use most in your work?
Pencil, ink and digital drawing.
How do you re-charge when a difficult assignment nears the deadline?
Don't despair... hehehe It's difficult, but the best thing is not to despair.
What is your favorite activity when you take a break from the studio?
Mountains! I love mountains and high deserts. Whenever I can I try to escape to climb, ski or walk. I even love to draw them. Some of my illustrations have in the background the mountains which I find most beautiful.
What would be your dream illustration assignment?
Work on book covers. But more than with a specific assignment, what I really dream of is to be able to look back in a few years and feel proud of the work I have done. And while we're at it, I've always dreamed on to accompany the great adventurers of the past to document their travels with my illustrations. :)