Omar Aranda was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 16, 1963. He began at an early age in a study of comic Buenos Aires with artists Gustavo Trigo and Alberto Saichann later developed and completed his studies at the National School of Fine Arts “Beato Angelico”, also conducted painting workshops.
His career began in 1992, carrying out worked designing scenery for theatre and television for the mainstream media.
In 1995, as an artist freelancer, integrates the staff of DC comics for publications Animaniacs and Looney Tunes, also begins to work for Disney Studios in publications of children’s books.
In 2003 started his own studio consisting of numerous artists collaborating in this way with numerous publishers in the world for various publishing projects.
From 2007 to date is represented by “The Illustrators Agency ” and through them published numerous books for the most popular publishing companies: Zondervan, Harper Collins, Hinkler Books, Pearson , OUP name a few.
Initial concept sketch to final artwork. This wonderful illustration is a personal project for Omar based on some of his earliest childhood memories in Argentina. Here is Omar explaining his process:
Stage 1 – The Concept. I already have a picture in my mind of exactly what I want. I just need to get it down on paper as quickly as possible.
Stage 2 – Here I add some colour from a previously created palette. I apply some textures in Photoshop using ‘Artistic’ pencils and brushes, gradually building layer upon layer until I create the correct atmosphere.
Stage 3 – With the main colour base now in place, I work on the light and shade, adding detail and trying not to lose the initial ‘freshness’ of my sketch.
How long have you been illustrating?
I’ve been illustrating professionally about 23 years before that had not published anything although of course drew and painted a lot.
How did you decide to attend Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina?
From the age of eleven began my love of drawing and then almost casually discovered a study drawing near my house where comics and cartoons were made and there were lots of artists. One of the artists gave me the opportunity to go and see what they did, and I was very happy of course, so I helped him with some tasks and they helped me in my drawing issues. from that moment I knew I wanted to draw, and so it was that years later career start Bella Artes.
What were you favorite classes in college?
Well, there were many. If I have to choose, of course, drawing and painting (traditional on easel), but they were my favorite classes of sculpture and engraving.
Did the School help you get work?
No, well not helped me at that time had not yet decided to be an illustrator, my idea was to devote myself to painting, doing exhibitions and if all went well sell paintings which was quite difficult and unlikely. I did some exhibitions with some success and satisfaction. The truth is that at the time the money was not a concern, but yes!, the desire and the desire to paint.
What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?
About painting, it was precisely at that time, I was about 22, and was in an exhibition at a Cultural Center well known in my country, there a man bought 3 paintings mine.
As for my first illustration, really submitted some samples to make a comic for Hanna and Barbera (Top Cat and the gang) and were accepted was the happiest moment of my life, my first job!. After that I worked for “DC Comics” drawing Animaniacs and Looney Tunes, the going very well with that and were some good years. I also worked in some projects for Disney always on the editorial side.
What type of job did you do right after you graduated?
I made several, some related to the artistic and others which bore no relation. I will mention that if they do.
I worked in a workshop where stage designs for theater and television were made. In this place also designing scenography and also painted large-scale decorated, I liked working mainly in children’s theater projects. I made some great designs scenery and costumes and even gladly did.
Then, I worked as an assistant to a great cartoonist in my country, making backgrounds or even layouts for a monthly series that was published in Italy.
Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?
Yes, I think definitely yes, although the influence was through knowledge, about how to put together a design,or respect to the color, or also on issues of composition, ie although the paintwork to call it a “traditional” way and illustration are not the same, share many of things in common.
When did you do your the first illustration for children?
The illustration consider professionally, it was not so long ago, it was for the book Jimba……., in 2008 authored by Alexis Tapp who had approached my agent, The Illustrators Agency. Before that did a lot, but this was, no casually, that opened the door to something new.
How did that come about?
Well … I was going around in my head, that of children’s illustration, it was exciting, but really did not know how it would be because until that moment all my work had more to do with the genre of the cartoon and comic , which felt like a fulfilled stage. But the idea of illustrating stories excited me much, working with my own characters, my own scenarios, more interior and freer world.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate a children’s book?
It was shortly before the draft Jimba, so when it arrived I could not believe it. It was the opportunity I was looking for .
How long did it take you to get your first picture book contract?
It was very fast, I have been a lucky person about it !!!. Since I contacted The Illustrators Agency and began to represent me, soon after, few months emerged Jimba project.
What was your first book that you illustrated?
Well I’ve already answered, I consider the first was Jimba ……… publication was in 2009.
How did get the contract with HarperCollins to illustrate the Princess Parables books?
It was through my agent, The Illustrators Agency, I think that they must have consulted the catalog of illustrators looking for someone with the characteristics of style they were looking so I was elected. Once the proposal came to me, I made a sample series and designs of different characters which featured in the stories, which apparently was liked and so I started to draft of 5 books over two years.
Was that the first time you illustrated a book for the American Market?
A book yes, but I had previously worked before in comic book projects.
Have you worked with educational publishers?
Yes, I have worked several times, is a good experience but not the one I like. If I can choose I prefer children’s stories, if I can not choose a good job and can become very interesting work.
How many children’s books have you illustrated?
A lot, counting all: educational, children’s stories … about 40 I think, but I do not remember exactly.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?
Yes, that is a desire, probably the next step, the idea excited me, though I’ve never written, but there are some ideas floating around that I hope to carry out soon. It is an outstanding debt.
Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?
If it refers to children’s illustration, no. I have done many cartoons for children’s magazines.
How long have you been represented by The Illustrator Agency?
The first contact with them was in 2007
How did you connect with them?
Well … as I mentioned, had any idea of giving a turn of my profession, so I started to search the internet agents with the idea of dedicating more children’s illustration, and sent them an e-mail. From that moment began this relationship of which I am very happy, they are great people.
What types of things did you do to find illustration work before you had an artist rep.?
In my beginnings, knocking on doors of publishers in my country without any success.
Then, by a fortuitous event, send samples of work to publishers outside my country with some success.In my beginning, editorial market in Argentina was very depreciated so this led me to look elsewhere outside my country.
It is an advantage of the artists have a universal language.
What is your favorite medium to use?
My favorite medium right now is digital, this may change because I’m feeling the need to return to traditional materials, perhaps a combination of both soon. I am referring to textures, watercolor, acrylic.
Has that changed over time?
Yes, I’ve changed a lot, and I hope to keep doing it, keep learning.
Do you have a studio in your house?
Yes, fairly recently I work in a small studio at home, since leaving a studio I shared with many other artists.
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
My computer, without a doubt.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
I try but it is difficult, the hours pass in a strange way in this profession, time is very short, and it turns out not realizing you’ve been sitting at the computer 12 hours. In general, I try to be not more than 10.
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
No, I do not take pictures but before starting each project I search some reference, especially with the scenarios that I will use and when it comes to historical stories. So looking from the costumes that was used until the architecture of that time.
Which illustrated book is your favorite?
There are more than one, and many talented artists !!, if I have to choose one, as a reference would by Rebecca Dautremmer Princesses
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
Internet is a great medium and yes, it has opened doors, but I take it with some caution
Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?
Yes, always. Is the par excellence program and one has wonderful tools.
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
It is another essential tool. When I began this I did the manual mode,
that is to say brush and airbrush, then appeared the computer I never thought I was going to use and with it, the mouse, never thought that I would leave. Today could not survive without my tablet.
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
This profession has complied me many dreams, but appear always new. Basically my dream is to continue working in this beautiful profession that I love and allows me to live, be able to maintain passion is essential to realize your own project … would not be bad.
What are you working on now?
Now, I am working on a series of 12 books of 50 pages each, right now I go by the number 6, this series tells the story of a girl who wants to be a ballerina.
And parallel in some children’s books whose stories are related animals and a child who wants to work super hero.
Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
I have no tips, because what is good for an artist can not be for another.
The materials are just that, which means you feel more or less comfortable to use. Personally I use many different brushes and textures that resemble materials like acrylic or watercolor and I think give it a more plastic spirit illustration but luckily there are no formulas in this, and the best is the own experimentation.
There are very good brushes, eg for photoshop, is available easily from internet and worth trying.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
I do not like self-reference, and less I consider myself someone success, hard work is the watchword.
I can imagine however the desires and anxieties of young people who are beginning, when things do not go as you want, when you take longer and these results are not as expected, or simply when you suffer some rejection. I think that’s the point to overcome, this work takes time … and it takes a long, until one day, after much work and much try, a door opens.
No experience is a formula, I like to think that’s not it, rather a way to walk the easy doing the best you can, always.
Thank you Omar for sharing your illustrations, journey, and process with us this week. We look forward to following your career, so please let us know about your new books and all of your future successes.
You can see more of Omar’s work at The Illustrator’s Agency and at ChildrensIllustrators.com Please take a minute to leave Omar a comment. I am sure he would love to hear from you and I would appreciate it, too.