Marcela Gutiérrez is the fashion illustrator everyone is talking about. Born in Florida, raised in Guatemala and having studied art all around the world, she only started painting professionally five years ago. In spite of that, she has already worked for all the big names in the world of fashion... and for Beyoncé! Her colorist paintings are both realistic and impressionistic just like the magic mix of a photograph and a dream. We talked with her about her successful career and her interesting life.
I have been painting and drawing ever since I can remember. My father was an architect and he had beautiful ink drawings all over the house, I suppose that may have ignited the interest. I only started painting professionally about five years ago.
It has evolved a great deal. When I was studying architecture and graphic design my work was extremely contrived. It was at Central Saint Martins when I learned to loosen up, I learned to be more instinctive with painting, I loved working with inks back then. I actually learned how to paint portraits in 2006! Since then, there has been a visible progression from inky heavy paintings towards lighter and more colorful watercolors. I tend to challenge myself every time I start a new project and I have been training myself exploring realism balanced with expressionism.
I started illustrating for Alexander McQueen but I was part of a team, I hadn't yet decided to paint full time as an independent professional. When I was still working as a fashion designer I received my first professional commission and it was for Oysho. It was a summer playlist CD cover in collaboration with WWF (world wild life organization).
When working on a portrait you hope to transmit a feeling to the viewer, a glance can sometimes be more eloquent than words and that notion fascinates me. I love the variety of colors an individual eye can contain, a brown eye can have yellow, purple, pink, green. It's very exciting, it gives a painting a third dimension.
Instinctively, the first thing that attracts my attention to an image is definitely color. I feel I have an innate sense for hues and tones. Although to me, a great image is a marriage between colors and composition. I hadn't really thought about it but I do prioritize color over strokes maybe because I love to paint more than I love to draw.
I am an obsessive perfectionist and I set the bar very high every time I start a new project. But I have also a side which is very relaxed and improvised. I literally do a combination of both. It is important personally to be detailed oriented because sometimes I must represent a product in the most realistic way but it really is a matter of style. I love also the work of other illustrators who manage to resolve a painting in a few strokes with very little detail.
First of all I learned about the possibility of doing what I love to do the most for a living; it never occurred to me before that painting could be a full time job. I also realized I was more passionate about painting than I am about designing, even if I did do the five year Fashion Design degree. I used to dream of becoming a designer to be able to follow the steps of who where back then my favorite designers, but I then discovered I preferred wearing fashion than working as a fashion designer. You really need to be 100% passionate about it because it is an extremely demanding job. I found it very difficult but it was a very positive experience to have as it was very revealing.
I have such a random mix of music that I listen to, it can go from classical to punk to pop to salsa. It would be an interesting experiment to see whether the song actually makes me paint in a particular way. I shall test it and let you know!
That was amazing and mortifying at the same time since I had to paint it in 24 hours from a motel room in Los Angeles. I had no room for error and I had no room to paint either, so I actually painted it using the bed as a desk but it was an absolute dreamlike experience.
Every place has inspired and shaped the person I am today. It's impossible to pick just one place because each one of them has left a strong mark in my life. I lived in London for about six years and it was inspiring because I was a fashion student and Central Saint Martins used to be in Soho, so going to school every day was a great visual experience. I also feel Barcelona was an important city in my life, it's were I started painting for a living and where I met many amazing creative friends who have helped me along the way.
I am currently working on Faction, an exhibition that will take place in NYC next year, the date has not been fixed yet. It would be a dream to do a painted campaign for Miu Miu!