Cristina Guitian - Artist Spotlight
Cristina Guitian studied illustration in Madrid, before beginning her career as an illustrator when she moved to London in 2004.
She spent her first few years in the UK perfecting her craft; drawing on her personal experiences to create extraordinary artworks, which offer her alternative view of life.
Cristina's illustrations strike the perfect balance of offering a unique perspective whilst still being commercial, making her simple line style incredibly popular with clients around the world. Cristina's projects are vastly different but are all linked by her inimitable conceptual style.
We spoke to Cristina about her studies, how living in London has influenced her work and what inspired her shortlisted artwork for the AOI's The Prize for Illustration, in association with London Transport Museum.
Could you tell us about how you became a professional illustrator?
When I left high school, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I soon realised I wanted to have a career that was creative as I loved to draw, but I didn't know you could become an illustrator, so I actually started studying interior design. As I studied, I learnt more about the creative industry and I ended up studying illustration in Madrid.
What did you take away from your illustration course?
I think I developed more as an artist after the course, because during the course I was quite overwhelmed. After I graduated I moved to London and that's when I started drawing more and found my own visual language. The course did give me a technical base though; the knowledge and technique I learnt helped me to find my style. Also meeting my classmates was very important, they were very talented and knowledgeable about the industry.
What three words would you use to describe your work?
I think surreal, uplifting and playful. Life can be difficult sometimes, so if I can draw a character that offers a different outlook on life and can cheer someone up, that's great. I draw to help myself process information and emotions, hopefully my artwork can help other people do the same.
It's interesting you mention you have used drawing to help you. A lot of your projects centre on mindfulness and wellbeing, is this an area of work that is of particular interest to you?
That's a very good observation. I like working on a wide range of commercial projects, but I think projects where my work promotes inner exploration are a particularly good fit.
For example, I worked with a company called Headspace, whose aim is to make meditation an indispensable tool for modern life. I was initially commissioned to create some instructional illustrations, but I ended up creating their entire visual language: their logo, event presentations, several animations and advertorials. It's great when my work can help people, at least I hope it does anyway.
Are there any projects you have worked on that stand out as favourites?
I really enjoyed the 'Agency Life' project I worked on for Virgin Media. I created a series of conceptual illustrations that were used for internal communications. They were designed to help explain how creativity can relate to different parts of the business. Each illustration was a visual metaphor for Virgin Media's philosophy and approach to different areas of the business. I was really pleased with how the illustrations turned out and the project won an AOI Best of British Illustration award.
I also really enjoyed the 'Reflections' project I recently worked on. I was invited by the YMCA and Architecture 00 to create art interventions whilst the gym was in use. My illustrations were designed to encourage new ways of thinking and to provoke people to think about their wellbeing. I drew directly on the glass and mirror surfaces of the gym so the images were viewed when people were looking at their own reflection. I also drew on the doors, windows and corridors - all to give an element of surprise. It was fun interacting with people and working in this way.
Your entry for the AOI The Prize for Illustration has been shortlisted, congratulations. Could you tell us a little bit about the piece?
As the competition theme this year was 'Sounds of the City', I wanted to draw on my experience of moving to London. When I arrived I barely spoke English. Words and sounds would merge into abstract shapes and I was aware of sounds more than ever before. In combination with the little English I knew, I started to express myself through 'sounds' as well as words. These 'sounds' started to feature in my illustrations as well, and it became a central part of my practice.
I'm interested in the rhythm of sounds as well as the power of words. Cities are full of stories, some of them told in first person and others hidden in abstract noises. They merge to tell one big colorful story, full of activity, diversity and life, which I have captured here.
To see Cristina's full Portfolio, please click here.