Monday, August 2, 2010

John Parra- El Camino de Suenos/The Path of Dreams

John Parra, Golden Kite winner and illustrator of Gracias, Thanks, as well as Gabriella and P is For Pinata, is taking us through his path to becoming an illustrator with a beautiful slide show. Parra starts the slide show with some vivid photos of himself as a child and his family in his hometown of Santa Barbara. He talks about the strong influence of the hispanic side of his family on his use of imagery in his artwork. His early influences include not only his own family and their gatherings, but also the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Mission, and the annual Santa Barbara Fiesta and I Madonnari Festivals.

Although Parra says he knew becoming an artist would probably mean some financial struggle in his life, he knew he couldn't be happy doing anything else. After taking the leap and deciding to attend art school, the Art Center of Pasadena, receiving an award from the Society of Illustrators got Parra the well-deserved attention that helped him get started as a professional artist. Parra shows us some early work, including a piece aptly named "Todo Cambia," which was an turning point in his personal style.

"Todo Cambia"

He explains his process, which includes thumbnails, sketches, color studies, and finally painting. The painting process involves layering paint and sanding the illustration board, to get the aged-looking texture that is a distinctive characteristic of his style.

Parra finds research to be a really fun part of the process, and utilizes a vast array of visual references when creating art. He also uses a lot of symbolism and iconography in his art, which, like the sanded texture, is a characteristic that sets his art apart. There is always a little bee or bird or insect for a child to find in Parra's illustrations.

Parra suggests that illustrators make sure they always have a studio all set up (be it a separate place or a room or an area of your home) not only so that you have a place to work, but also so that your family and loved ones know that making art is an important part of your life.

Parra also makes this great suggestion:
Don't let your happiness depend on your success. Be happy now, and keep working at your art.

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