Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 16, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Quino Marin

Based in Gijón and graduating from Arts University of Seville with a degree in Painting’s technical. He works as freelance in many areas of illustration and graphic design. 

His works have been published by:

Santillana Group
Planeta Group
Oxford University Press
SGEL Books
Club Internacional del Libro
Hachette Filipacchi
Hearst Magazines
Conde Nast Editions
Joie de Lire
Círculo de Lectores

Here is Quino discussing his process:

I have chose this picture because it is not an Editorial commission wich are very good represented by numerous examples in Kathy’s blog but it is a commission of a children drawing to be reproduced in different merchandising products.


Image.01. The first thing I usually do are numerous small sketches not bigger than 5 X 3 inches. Usually I work this small drawings with pencils or ink. It is a very quick way to study the structure of the drawing and finally appreciate wich elements get involved in the composition. When I have one that I find suitable I work a little bit with watercolurs to get an idea of ​​how the different planes of the drawing works.


Image.02. The next step is to adapt the sketch to real size and for that I use soft pencils drawing B to 4B. Depending on the medium to be used I choose a particular kind of paper. In this case the final drawing is a pencil and I have selected a 200 gr smooth Canson cardboard. For this work we had concrete to simplify the environment to create a contrast between the figures and the landscape so these elements were kept clean in the drawing base production. In this step two figures were removed to synthesize the image contents.


Image.03. Color work in this case was digital. Usually I use digital media with a very similar process that I use with traditional medium.  Digital colour is very useful when you have to apply a particular drawing  to different products with different formats.  I start for backgrounds to have a color base in the image. The next step was work in a very graphic  way the environment . Finally colour is applied to the figures in this case with a pointillist technique for dinosaurs.


Image.04. Once the image is ready I print at different products size. Then I decided to eliminate the boy figure figure seeking a greater image synthesis. Finally the mark of the series was included on the drawing.


Image.05. These are some of the products on which finally the drawing was printed.


Interview Questions for Quino Marin


How long have you been illustrating?

It is not easy to concrete a date for the start of the activity because like many others illustrators I started drawing as a child and never left. For a while I worked as an illustrator sporadically while I study but was in 2004 when I decided to devote myself completely.


What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?

The first illustration was commissioned for the magazine ELLE Spain where I illustrated for some months the gastronomy page.


What made you choose to attend the Arts University of Seville?

At that time I lived in Seville, a wonderful city, and although the University studio system was a focused in classic disciplines I thought it was the ideal place to learn the craft of painting.


Have you always lived in Spain?

Yes, I was born in Madrid and lived many years in Seville until I decided to move and see other places and fifteen years later I’m at the other coast of the country.


What were your favorite painting classes?

I have no particularly good memories of classes. The subjects finally were too academic and creativity does not have much place. Anyway I remember two good teachers in “Mural Painting” and “Landscape Painting”.


Do you feel College helped develop your style?

Not quite. Find a style takes time and often that happens long after finishing college. In my case I did not study illustration because at this time is only a small part of another specialty and I did not follow this career path until a few years later.


What type of work did you do after you got out of school?

I spent a few years painting and holding exhibitions. It was a figurative painting but not realistic.



Did art school help you get work when you graduated?

No. At that time the career possibilities of Fine Arts were two. The first, become a teacher without any professional experience and the second option was to invent your profession and discover your way. It was not until some time later that began to appear in Spain Schools with more specific professional study lines and a much more defined career guidance.


Have you seen your work change since you left school?

It has changed a lot. I think that we are always learning and it is visible in our works.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?6+

It was not a deliberate choice. I think that to be open to the world allows things happen to you. The care of my first children’s book was not sought. That work was something special, removed all accumulated memories of my reading days in childhood and bring it to this moment present. I believe that this project make me feel that this professional aspect was important to me.


What was your first book you illustrated?

The first illustrated book was not published. It was called “Deep Jungle Circus” and was a tale from my friend Patxi Irigoyen. That book had more than two hundred ink illustrations. The first book published was “Fables of Yesterday and Today” by Carlo Frabetti and published by Alfaguara.


How did that contract come about?

I had just arrived in Madrid to study graphic design and thought about resuming contacts illustration work I had already and make new ones. In one of the visits, to Santillana Education, the art director told me that he liked what I was doing and asked me if I knew the division of children’s literature “Alfaguara” (today belong to Penguin Random House) and introduced me to the children books publisher that at this time had no illustrator for the book. I accepted in that moment.


Did you do other types of illustrating before you got that book contract?

Yes. Spain is an special case in the world of illustration but has begun to come closer to the European type. In Spain was not possible to specialize in one type of drawing as you could see in England or France . When I see those illustrators who only draw youth covers or children books I think that this kind of specialization was impossible in Spain. I do not mean that Spain case was the ideal but really you learn a lot working to very different audiences and publications styles. You work for children, youth and adults, in newspapers, magazines, education, literature and advertising. At the end you have a wide view of the profession.

riding horse

How many pictures books have you illustrated?

I have do seven. It´s not easy to get this kind of commissions in Spain. The illustrated book is one of the weakness of Spanish editorials.


Have you ever illustrated a book for the US publisher?

No. I just have land in the US market and has arise a small collaboration with HMH. I hope it could be possible illustrate one in a future.



Have you illustrated just the covers of some books?

Yes, I have illustrated covers for children, educational, youth and adult books. The covers are a very special type of work, have a very specific function that requires a certain kind of synthesis.


Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?

I’ve already started with one based on an ancient oriental story but being a personal work you have to do in your spare time and that makes the production be very slow. Finally It is a gift you do to yourself.


What do you think has been your biggest success?

Professionally it is a bit complex. I get involved with every project I work and it is not easy to choose one over the other. Each project teaches you different things.


Have you ever tried to do a wordless picture book?

No. But it’s a kind of book I like. I remember now one which I like very much “The Wave” of the illustrator Suzy Lee.


464335U12P08_670How long have you been represented by The Organisation? How did you connect with them?

I have just arrive a few moths ago, but thanks to the professionalism of Lorraine Owen, Richard Merritt and Steph Vickery I feel at home. In Spain there is no tradition of agencies illustration, just know three, is an individual work. So, be part of an agency like The Organisation that takes care of quite important aspects of labor relations or bring you their experience is an important fact when you introduce in markets such the English or American which are very different from the Spanish.


Do you illustrate full time?

Yes. Sometimes really “full time” , from Sunday to Sunday.


Do you have a favorite medium you use?

Not particularly. Before I start working on a drawing I use to define which is the medium starting point and then I let go by intuition in production, often mixing painting techniques. I think every project has different technical options and it is important to succeed in choosing the right medium for images. Keep in mind that the drawings are not independent but maintains a symbiosis with the text and this relationship sometimes suggest you the right technique for the project.


Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Rarely. Only on specific works that focus on real concrete buildings or urban areas. What I use to do always are quite small sketches in which study the composition, the weight of the elements of the image, rhythm, emptyness ..



Do you use Photoshop with any of your work? Do you have and use a graphic tablet? Do you do exhibits to show off your art?

Sometimes but I am not focused in this aspect.


Would you be willing to work with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

It’s an interesting idea but I really have not too much free time.


Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

Yes, and I really like this kind of collaboration because it allows more freedom than others. My first illustrations were collaborations published with Elle and Vogue Spain. Later I began to publish a monthly collaboration with Hachette Filipacchi over eleven years.


Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?

Books. Many books. Some accompany me since childhood.



Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

Work everyday.


Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Yes, this year comes full of education projects but also appears another kind of works.


Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?

Internet has changed everything. It has created a world of enormous possibilities and that includes all freelance. I do not live in the place in which are located the companies wich I work since years and that was unthinkable twenty years ago. Today you can work with an editor in the other side of the world at real time. I do not mean that everything is positive but that depends on everyone because the advantages are obvious.


What are your career goals?

Really I try not to mark very defined objectives or very precise goals. I think that as the Greek poet Cavafis said, “The important thing is the journey not the destination” so my usual goal is to keep learning something new every day.


What are you working on now?

I just finished a very interesting educational project for Grazalema publishing and beginning with my first collaborations with The Organisation.


Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

I think every illustrator develops its language with very specific tools that profile better than others his world view, but in my case I am not particularly adict to concrete brands. Now… I am using Rembrandt and Cotman watercolors, Windsor and Newton Oils, Sennelier gouache, Faber Castell pencils, Staedler erasers and rulers, Fabriano and Montval watercolor paper, Canson drawing papers, etc but I like to try other brands because innovation in materials is constant.


Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

I do not usually give advice because the experience of one does not be always useful for others. But beyond practical advice on how to deal with a drawing or establish relationships with publishers I would tell them that must understand they are about to engage in a profession that more than a big business is a lifestyle. Also that it is important to be flexible and develop some resilience to the events that happen to you because that will allow you to reach your goals.


What do you think about actual situation of illustration today?

I think the illustration is in a particularly good time. Their presence is increasing every day and in some aspects is leading the renewal of traditional art forms. Somehow, it is no longer the younger sister of arts. A good example of this is the growing presence in both product and advertising for major brands that often risking very little in general. I think the interest that aroused today artists like Shaun Tan, Jimmy Liao, Rebecca Dautremer, Roberto Innocenti or Jutta Bauer, to name a few, is only understandable from the change in the perception that new generations have about this language.


You work in children books illustration but… What kind of books do you read in your childhood?

I was lucky to have parents very fond of reading and the truth it is that I have many memories of those days books. My earliest memories are works of Richard Scarry, Babar de Brunhoff and the Moomins by Tove and Lars Jansson. Then came Carroll illustrated by Tenniel, Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak, works of Andersen, Grimm and Barrie by Rackham, Defoe and Swift by Grandville, the marvelous Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagelöf, the Roald Dahl books illustrated by Quentin Blake, Kipling, Stevenson, Verne and endless wonderful writers and illustrators who somehow made me dedicate to this.


If you need to choose a book by an US illustrator… Will Be…?

Well this is a bit complicated because there are countless illustrators who have made unforgettable books. Denslow, Gorey, Sendak, Dr. Seuss and many others but I remember one that always have been special for me “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.


Thank you Quino for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Quino’s work, you can visit him at website at:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Quino. I am sure he’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Stunning work, Quino! Thank you for the interview. I really enjoy your style!


  2. Thank you, Quinn! You have so many details and the colors are very vibrant! Keep it up!


  3. Beautiful work, love your colors, Thanks!


  4. What beautiful work! I especially love the rich colours you use and the wonderful detailed and contrasting patterns in your illustrations. Such a visual treat!


  5. Oh my I love dinosaurs…


  6. And I looooovvvee your work


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