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Portrait of Robert Tirado

Portrait of Robert Tirado

Robert talks to Fabulous Noble about being an illustrator and where he finds inspiration

Robert Tirado is a Madrid-based Venezuelan artist and educator who creates beautiful, mixed media illustrations. We had a chat with him to find out more about his process, what inspires him, and how he found himself creating the exceptional work he does today.

When you were growing up, did you always want to become an illustrator?

Definitely, I was born this way.
I always liked to draw. I'm addicted to the world of image and sound.
I always knew I would become a communicator: journalist, artist or designer ...
Although, when I went to design school, I found out that I had the opportunity to study a career that somehow involved many of my preferred disciplines. I became an illustrator because it seems to me the most complete and beautiful career in the world.

What was the first ad or artwork that inspired you?
Since childhood, I have been attracted by the work of many artists, but I think the works that best caught my attention and inspired me to draw were: the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico and the paintings of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, for those rare and unique concepts, desolated landscapes and strange characters shown in their works.

Can you outline your creative background?
 When I was 11 years old. I took drawing lessons. Later, I studied Illustration at university. I have been teaching to design and illustration students in various universities for over 9 years and I have worked as a full time freelance illustrator since 5 years ago. All these experiences give personality to each of my pieces.

Where do you find your inspiration? What captures your attention in everyday life, graphics or art?

Inspiration is everywhere, in nature, architecture, photography and art in general. Today, I am inspired equally by illustration and art history.

What is the process you go through to build your imagery?
All my work starts with a process of research and documentation.
Once I have conceptualized the piece, I seek pictures according to the concept then I do the first test of compositions and sketches.
There is a good part of the work that is done by hand and another part by computer, which usually gives me facilities editing an image.

How do you describe your style?
Right now, it is a kind of contemporary illustration mixing traditional manual techniques and digital art with delicate strokes and subtle harmonies of colors. And most importantly, constantly evolving, because I do not believe in only one method to make what I do and I think the most honest thing an artist can do is to explore different ways to work.

How would you say you are more likely to work, digitally or by hand?

Both. Among my favorite media are traditional watercolor, pencil, acrylic and ink. When working with digital media, I prefer Photoshop.


How do you define good graphic art?
Authentic. With soul and sensitivity. Able to capture the attention.

What does your studio look like?
I always try to be neat and clean. I like easy access to my tools: a wide range of materials, reference books and many records, because I listen to music during most parts of the day. I like to always work with my two baby cats: Velázquez and Ribera.

What do you think about the fast moving pace of the world of illustration?

The frenetic rhythm of life today is reflected in the art and illustration world. Today, we have plenty of opportunities to reach large audiences through the internet and press, magazines and books distributed worldwide.
I think it's positive to promote the work of many illustrators. Illustration has always been present in our environment and advertising as a major source of communication. Unfortunately, it is still considered a new profession in some places of the world.

Whose portrait would you most like to do?
All portraits are special. Each has its time and reason.
Right now, I have in mind to do a family portrait and one for a friend: Mario Suarez (Warrior).
Moreover, I would love to receive a commission directly from Robert Smith (The Cure).

What artist would you like to collaborate with (from the past or present)?
From the past, I would have loved to collaborate with an artist like Dali to share and learn about his creative process, his understanding of art and concepts. What I like the most about him is his admiration and respect for the great classical masters, his endless research, experiments with different materials, sizes and the close relationship between his work and science. In my opinion, he was an intellectual.

What project are you most proud of?
Overall, I'm proud of many of my projects. I like when a client´s commission serves its purpose. I also like my personal projects because they keep me looking for my own answers. They're absolutely necessary for me. So it's a difficult question to answer. In any case, I must say that after a while, I do not surprise myself too much, so I'm looking to do more and more.

Which blogs and magazines do you read?
I like to read magazines like Computer Arts or IDN, because they make me aware of what is happening today in contemporary illustration and design and meet new artists, illustrators and design studios.

What is the last exhibition you went to?
A few days ago, I attended to an exhibition of Spanish illustrators to personally admire the work of David Despau, Carmen García Huerta and Jorge Arévalo and recently visited another nice exhibition of drawings, prints and photographs of Edgar Degas, who was along with pieces of his personal collection including drawings of Ingres, Cézanne or Toulouse- Lautrec.

If you could own any artwork in the world, which one would it be?

It would be probably "The Burial of Count Orgaz" (El Greco), "The Metamorphosis of Narcissus" or " The burning giraffe " (Dalí), or "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (Hieronymus Bosch).

What would you be if not an artist?
Social communicator, writer.

What are three adjectives that best describe you?
According with my wife: magnetic, irregular and convoluted.

What are you currently working on?
I usually work on several projects at the same time. I'm currently developing a complete illustrated alphabet. I hope to have this finished by early next year. Each letter is different and handles different concepts. I also work on various animated .gif that eventually I will use as part of the identity of my next website. All this, apart from the usual commissions: printed magazines and collaborations with various brands.

Any plans for the future?
Trying to conquer the world.