Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 27, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Marife Gonzalez

Marifé González and, since I can remember, all my life has revolved around creativity and art.

I graduated in Fine arts at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, dedicating myself to illustration ever since, aimed primarily at children. I’ve done illustrations for publishers such as Grupo Anaya, Santillana, Grupo Editorial Bruño, Edelvives, Vicens Vives, Susaeta Ediciones, Grupo Edebe, Educa Borras…

Meanwhile I’ve developed my personal work, holding exhibitions in different art galleries and receiving some awards.


This illustration is part of my personal work. It’s done digitally, incorporating elements that are done manually and
scanned in a collage way, which is my favourite technique.

I’ve been using different types of paper and cardboards, cutting them
with scissors or cutter, and also with my own hands. Moreover, acrylics, watercolors, inks, pencils, crayons…

Mi work process starts with a line sketch that will serve me as a guide.

To start off with color, I use some light colour textures that I’ve printed on cardboard, because I want this illustration to be very

The scene takes place in the woods, so I trim different papers to make the trunk of the trees.

I cut a cardobard piece for the ground, over which I paint with acrylics and crayons. I scan it, and I already have the image on my computer.

From here on, I use Photoshop. I add elements in a collage way, both scanned and done digitally, to compose the scene.
Photoshop also lets me play with the layer’s opacity to create transparencies.

Finally, I add the characters, which I’ve done aside, also with a mixed technique.

And its finished.

My interview with Marife:

How long have you been illustrating? 

For more than twenty years.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork? 

In 1987, in Madrid. It was the first project I got from a publisher.

Did you choose to attend the Fine arts at Universidad Complutense de Madrid? 

Yes, a very wise choice.

What type of classes were your favorites? 

It was always the painting classes, no matter if they were still life, landscapes or nudes.

Did the ArtCenter College of Design help you get illustrating work when you graduated? 

No, certainly not.

What type of illustrating did you do when you were first starting out? 

Illutrations for children.

When did you decide to illustrate children’s books?

During my last year in Fine Arts I already began showing my portfolio to local publishers.

What was the title of your first picture book?

“Mi primera comunión”

How did you get that job?



When I finished preparing my portfolio, I showed it to some publishers and Susaeta Ediciones was the first one that asked me to illustrate a book.


Is Heidi your latest illustrated picture book? 

It’s my last published book. I’ve done some more works after, but they haven’t been published yet.

How did you get the contract?

The publisher contacted me to offer me the job.

How many picture books have you illustrated?

More than two hundred, I think.


How often do you exhibit your artwork?

These last years I haven’t organized any exhibitions, since I’ve been fully dedicated to editorial illustrating.

What award are you most proud of?

1st place on Mallorca’s “Villa de Andratx” Painting Competition.

Would you like to write and illustrate a book?

I’d love to.  It’s been a pending project for a long time.

Have you ever been published by a US publisher? 

No, but I hope it happens soon.

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who and how long have you been with them? If not, would you be willing to consider representation?

These days I’ve been negotiation with an US representant, but I can’t say his name until I formalize my contract.

Do you do freelance illustrating full time?


Have you done any book covers for novels? 

Not yet.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

If I like the project, sure.

What do you feel influenced your illustrating style?

The first drawings of my son, bringing his vision of the world closer to me with a pencil in his hands. In fact, we did an exhibition together when he
was 3, and it was an unique experience.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

Yes, with some. Santillana, Grupo Anaya, Grupo Editorial Bruño, Edelvives, Grupo Edebé, Vicens Vives.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones? 

Yes, for the magazine “Crecer Feliz”.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book? 

Yes, its another one of my pending projects… a book where the illustration can speak for itself without the need of any words.

What do you think is your biggest success? 

Being able to work on what I like doing the most.

What is your favorite medium to use?

What I like the most is mixing different techniques, but mostly collage.

Has that changed over time?

No, I think it’s always been like that. But every projects requires a different and concrete way of working, and it’s not always appropiate to mix techniques.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your art?

I like to work on an illustration until I consider it finished, no matter how much time it takes.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

Yes, I always try to be well documented.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you? 

Of course. When I began illustrating, I always had so many books next to me just to research, specially if I was doing a project for an educational
publisher. Now it’s enough with just being online, and it’s marvelous.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, I use both programs, and sometimes also Illustrator.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

Yes, it’s essential for my work. I use a Wacom Cintiq.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill? 

I’d like to write an illustrate my own tales.

What are you working on now?

Now i’m illustrating a book about unicorns, which I’m enjoying a lot. I’ve always liked unicorns.

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. 

There’s an artistic material store in Madrid, specialized in papers and cardboards, which has an amazing variety. You can find what you’re looking for, and also what you’re not.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Well, succesful is a very subjective term. Depends on what each one wants to accomplish. I think what’s most important is setting a clear goal. Knowing very well where you want to get, and getting there step by step, being true to your own style, and making of the road you’re walking a place where you can learn and improve. Not getting discouraged when you don’t get a job , and working and working…

Thank you Marife for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Marife’s work, you can visit her at: Website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Marife. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Marife’s work is adorable. Thanks for another interesting and beautiful post.


  2. The faces – animals and humans – are all quite expressive. Love Marife’s illustrations!


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