Cian Walsh interviews Edel Rodriguez.
Edel Rodriguez is one of the top illustrators in the world The visual artist dubbed “America’s Illustrator-in-chief by Fast Company, has been at the forefront of trying to help Americans, and the rest of the world, make sense of the Donald Trump presidency.
In your illustrative work are you prompted by events to sketch ideas for final illustrations or do you wait for the brief to generate the ideas?
It’s both ways. I get briefs from clients sometimes about something that they’re working on. And then they tend to tie in with what I’m already doing my own work. It’s sort of a lot of back and forth. Then I suppose it feeds back into how people hire you. There’s this sort of like good balance and I always tell people to have their own projects always happening because that’s what gives people ideas of what you’re interested in doing.
With Der Spiegel, I got direct contact with the editor. He’s like send me anything anytime you have it. Things were happening so fast, if I didn’t get in touch with someone that could make a decision there… Two days is a lifetime! They’ve actually moved their cover story based on an illustration which is pretty rare.
What is your preferred method of getting the idea from thought to production?
I work on paper, just basic 8 1/2 x11 white paper and just start putting things down. Instead of sitting there and thinking. Any thought that pops into my head, I just put it down on a piece of paper as just a random person, animal whatever it is. And then I start making connections on paper. I don’t use the the the Web too much for reference. I tend to use just kind of whatever pops into my head.
What is the one indispensable piece of technology that has helped your creative process?
Definitely my phone. I would say that none of this would have happened without my phone. I mean self publishing is what’s created a lot of this stuff you know which I know is what is probably pushing a real publishing forward to to have to catch up with it.
Does the medium of expression affect how the illustration is constructed for maximum impact?
I think definitely to some degree because but really nowadays it’s multi-platform. So you can’t say it’s one platform that is controlling everything. But definitely keep in mind the idea you’re going to see my work about three inches tall by two inches wide. Even if it’s a magazine cover. But the same theories still apply.
Think of everything as being seen from 20 feet away. Even I make a magazine cover or say a poster.
That translates to your phone in the same way of that sizing. So you still have to have the same impact. But perhaps maybe the viral quality of it makes you think what can I get to get people really like riled up about an image instead of passive. What stops them in their Twitter feed. So what makes you stop and you “whoa” and “I’m gonna share that”. What makes you share. So I think that that makes you like me a little bit more improper sometimes.
Do you find your expression inhibited or enhanced by the digital tools available today?
I just follow the idea. What is it that I’m trying to do or trying to say is so sometimes it’s more hand lettering and I’m colour with the hand lettering in Photoshop. Or I draw out paths, but then I throw what I can paint it textures into it it really more about clarity and kind of get an idea across. So but technology definitely definitely helps.
And I think with technology, it helps me start seeing things as finals and sometimes as they start becoming more final, I go “oh this sucks I’m gonna stop. This is a waste of my time”. You can visualise things quickly. I mean from start to finish I could do something in 10 or 15 minutes. Yeah I’m really agitated about. It. And also technology wise. I hate this guy (Trump) so I don’t really want to paint him and I don’t wanna spend that much time on it. I want to just take a minimum time. Except the magazine covers those. I feel like I should be serious. If I work on a cover, I’ll spend five, six, 10 hours on it just to get it right. But if it’s just like an opinion, like I’m really angry, I want it done in five to 10 minutes and move on with the rest of my day.
You’re kind of racing with people’s attention like something that was said that afternoon by tomorrow morning it’ll be old news. So there’s catching up factor. And also this is the first president who’s live tweeting everything. So for the next election just vote for the guy that wants to eat. That would be a great slogan. “I will not tweet!