Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 19, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Rocio Arreola Mendoza (aka Denarmen)

Rocio Denisse Arreola Mendoza (aka Denarmen in the internet) is a mother and freelance illustrator from North Mexico.

Co-founder of Cúrcumas Creative Studio she has worked with Matamoros City’s Government making any kind of commercial illustration for social media and printed campaigns. When she’s not working as a bee, she can be seen playing in the garden with her kid, husband and cats or brewing some tea.

HERE IS ROCIO DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

Everything starts with a sketch, I like to add some values here, so I don’t forget anything. Honestly this is a very polished sketch, since it was for a client, when I do something for me you barely can say what is what. 

Then I make the background with big brush strokes, I don’t like to just fill with the bucket. I LOVE texture, so I do it this way.

Here I start to paint the main focus, in this case the bed, so I color flat with the brush. I usually use one or two layers, just if I think I would like to move something, if not, then I do everything in one layer. 

Here I like to start with the details. 

I applied the above in these two characters (I made them in one layer..) 

I start painting the elements, since this is a scene with MANY things I choose to make everything in two layers, this one, with what was supposed to go down everything (here I detail too in the same layer, if there are any changes from client, I just erase and paint over it.) 

And this one, repeating the process.

Then I look for the most textured brush in my gallery, and start to make this shadow over the rest of the layers. I just play with overlays and opacity afterwards. 

Final: And finally, I canceled the sketch layer, and this is the result!

MY INTERVIEW WITH ROCIO:

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been a professional since 2016, but I started with little commissions during 2015.

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

I think that was back in high school, first year, I remember it was a little commission for a friend, a cartoon of Hikaru Shido one of the Magic Knight Rayearth by CLAMP, I just wanted to buy a manga in the comic’s store in front of the school I guess it was like 3 dollars

Have you always lived in Mexico?

Yes!

Where did you go to study graphic design?

I went to UANE ( Universidad Americana del Noreste) 

Were you able to take any illustration classes before you left?

Nope, I have always been self taught 

Did any of your professors see your talented art and encourage you to go into illustrating?

Sadly, no. The first person who encouraged me into illustration back then (and always supported me since) was my now husband Armando, meeting him was life changing in many ways, he is a very talented artist! He knows a lot about illustration, picture books, comics and books, it was easy to get myself into all that thanks to him hehe. This was the time when I dreamed so big wishing for being a children’s book illustrator in the future.

Did you start freelance illustrating as soon as you quit studying graphic design?

Those were some hard days for my family, so when I left university I had to get a job, and worked as a waitress for two years. Then I went to live with my husband and two years after I started freelancing.

Can you apply anything your learned during your graphic design studies that helps you with illustrations?

Yes! There are some concepts especially about composition that I still use a lot, also I remember  one of the painting classes I had, it was about color palette, really helpful.

What type of illustration work did you do when you started out your illustration career?

Those first months I worked mostly using watercolors, and I did a lot of private portrait commissions. I guess my first big project was a CD cover for Don Bravo, a musician from the city next to mine. And also a comics project “Superpatrullín” that I still illustrate every year for Alejandro de la Cruz, a very cool elementary teacher!

How did you find illustration work?

Find proper job as illustrator in my city in the beginning was really hard, because this is a very small town that is just getting bigger and a lot of careers where still very new here (such like graphic design, or illustration) I remember I had to sent a lot of emails and even went to some places offering  my services, also explaining what Illustration was, because even the idea was very weird for some people here. Then I was hired by the city’s government to work exclusively as illustrator for their social media, there I meet a lot of awesome people, and some very very talented girls, we eventually leave the government, but we loved to work together so we jump and started “Cúrcumas” A Creative agency run only by women, where I work as illustrator for social media, and advertising campaigns. And last year, I finally signed with Chad Beckerman a very cool agent from The cat agency, I hope with his help I can finally follow my dream of work in the publishing industry as a children’s books illustrator, as I envisioned when I was at university

What made you want to illustrate children’s books?

I love the idea of  illustrating stories more than anything, and I always felt that my style was suitable for children mostly. When I was a child I spent hours with my school books, especially those that were only stories, looking at the illustrations, and wondering who made them, I remember I thought how cool it could be that job!

Have you illustrated any children’s books?

Yes I have! Last year “Mondi” , the first chapter book I’ve illustrated, came out, and also there are some other school books projects that I have Illustrated for Mexican editorials. 

Do you have a strong community of illustrators where you live?

As I said before this is a city where everything is very new, and illustrators communities are still very few. Some years ago, alongside a couple of illustrators friends we created an event to gather other illustration enthusiasts in the city, since it was a bif success then we started making “Drawing dates’’ ! It was super fun, but COVID happened and it’s been a while since we saw each other. I hope we can reunite soon, still we support each other when needed. Also I have to mention that I found a very nice community on the internet, and they have saved me many times! 

Do authors and illustrators in Mexico do school visits to promote their books?

I don’t know that information.

How did you connect with Chad Beckerman at The Cat Agency and how long have you been representing you?

Last year I was looking for an agent and sent my portfolio to the Cat agency, and suddenly he approached me via Instagram, and we signed in september 😀  I’m a baby kitten 🙂 

Now that you have an agent, do you still work on your portfolio?

YES! I think a portfolio is something you need to work on every time!

Do you exhibit your art? If so, has it helped you get work?

I think I only exhibit my art in social media, and YES, a lot of my current jobs comes from my presence on the internet (and I don’t think I have LOT of followers, but somehow they find me) 

How did you get the job with Matamoros City’s Government making commercial illustration for social media and printed campaigns?

I was recommended by one of my illustrator friends, they looked at my portfolio and as it fitted what they wanted at the moment, I got hired by the graphic design team.

What type of art does CúRCUMAS Creative Studio create?

We work with several kinds of clients, making advertising campaigns. We are five talented and beautiful creatives, each and everyone with their own expertise, graphic design/ animation/ illustration / Social media/ video & foto, we have a very important feminist vein, and we support our local creatives to find good job opportunities, and also we work in campaigns for the cause.  

Have you ever created greeting cards or pattern designs for paper or fabrics?

I don’t but I would love to do it!.  Also I always have the intention of opening a small stationery online store.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a picture book?

YES! Is one of my biggest goals for my career. 

Would you consider working with a self-published writer to illustrate their book?

As long as it is a good text I will always be glad to work on any book idea! 

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines?

I have! In 2020 I was commissioned by Storytime Magazine.

Do you sell your artwork online?

Not yet, but I hope this is the year! haha.

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

To keep going on with illustration. To be honest it’s not been an easy way, but to be able today to make a living out of what I love the most, is my biggest success, and I feel very proud of every little step I have had until now.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I feel very comfortable with digital art, but sometimes I love to paint with actual oils and watercolors.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, in the beginning of my career I was too much attached to the idea of working only using watercolors. ooh I was so blind, bless the undo button!

What type of Graphic Drawing Tablet do you use when illustrating?

Currently I’m working mostly with my Ipad 7 gen and apple pencil 1 gen. And I sometimes use a good old Wacom intuos pen for desktop work.

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

Well.. I have an 8 year old kid, who’s been at home since COVID started, and while I would love to have a schedule to work specifically on one task, I have to use the time he allows me during the day. It is very usual to find me working at midnight.

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

Yes, I love making mood boards with info/images/resources for every project! 

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Totally, without the internet I wouldn’t be doing what I love the most.

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

I think to be an author would be my biggest dream, I just want my kid to read something I wrote and illustrate. 

What are you working on now?

Mostly I’m working doing illustrations for Cúrcumas clients, and some more for a couple of educational books. 

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’ve been using a lot the “Photoshop and Procreate Sketcher sample combo pack” brushes from Shauna Parmesan, honestly chef kiss and Sajan Draw and Paint! 

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

BE PROACTIVE. Honestly, it may sound condescendent, but being proactive helped me a lot when I was a little down because it felt like in my city there wasn’t anything to work as an illustrator. No one knows what you do? fine! then you tell them. I remember those days when I was knocking doors, with a flyer offering my services, it felt weird because I had to offer something they didn’t know they needed, but it worked!. I wanted to meet a community of illustrators but it seemed there weren’t anywhere in my city, so I started a little event to get to know them, because there are always very talented people around you, but you have to move to find them!. Being proactive is what leads me to find job opportunities, to meet people, and also to learn new skills, and I’m sure it may be helpful to you!.

Rocio, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Rocio using the following links:

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/denarmen/?hl=en

BEHANCE: https://www.behance.net/denarmen

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/rO.denarmen/about

AGENCY: https://catagencyinc.com/#/rocio-arreola/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Great work! Nice use of color.

    Like

  2. Truly beautiful! I’m glad your husband has encouraged you, that makes life even sweeter.

    Like

  3. Reading about Rocio’s process was fascinating, and now I have a new process to try when it comes to shadows and light! Thank you so much for sharing ❤

    Like

  4. Very colorful and lively! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Like

  5. Such rich colors! I just love the owl librarian and the library in the tree. It’s adorable. Thanks for a beautiful post.

    Like


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