Raquel Marín has built a career out of her passion for typography. Not only does she have a master’s degree in the subject, she is the author of a graphic design book ‘Ortotypography for Designers’ published in 2013 by Gustavo Gili (Barcelona), she founded a small firm, Lalolagrafica, specialising in editorial design and typography and, did we mention, she is currently writing a PhD thesis on the subject too?
Using a unique mixture of illustration and typography, Raquel provides her designs with a distinctive touch and creates messages with a great visual impact.
Between writing her thesis and preparing her second book, Raquel found a moment to talk about her artistic journey. She shares her daily creative process and how sparks of inspiration can be found everywhere.
Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got into illustration?
I never really thought that I could dedicate myself to illustration, as I never believed that I drew well. I predominantly did graphic design work, but I didn’t find the commissions I received from clients very interesting and I realised I needed to do more personal projects related to illustration.
So, I put aside the jobs that didn’t make me happy and decided to take the time to do some personal projects. These projects took shape and became a workbook. I created some book covers and more projects came out of that, which led me to submitting work to some agencies, among which was The Bright Agency - one of my favourites. They liked my work and here we are now, starting a journey together.
You’ve published a book, how did it all come about?
My book was a personal project, maybe the most important personal project I’ve ever done. It came to me whilst I was studying a master’s degree in typography at the University of Barcelona. Although the book was originally aimed at graphic designers, it could appeal to people in many areas, such as philologists, journalists, translators, bloggers and copywriters.
The reason for its success, in my opinion, is that the book is aimed at anyone who wants to write correctly or to know more about the elements found within the fonts we use, such as quotation marks, italics, signs, symbols and so on. Nowadays, we write and message continuously through various media platforms and social networks, so we want - and need - to write as correctly as possible. The truth is that, five years on, the book is still selling great - we are already in the fifth print run! Now I’m starting to think about the second book which will be part of the doctoral thesis I’m researching.
Where do you work and what is your practice like?
I’m quite organised when doing the more rational part of my work, but I admit that for the artistic part I move by instinct and cravings. It may be that one week I have set myself the objective of working on a certain graphic project, but if I am not inspired, I find it very difficult to enjoy my work. So, when timing allows, I’ll choose a project based on how I feel. I always have 5 or 6 projects on the table that I take or leave depending on my mood or attitude.
My workspace is also a very important factor; I can’t work at home, that’s why I’ve always had a studio. Sometimes I’ve been alone, other times I’ve shared with someone else or been in co-working spaces, like right now. I usually arrive at 9am and I’ll start by organising the day and deciding which projects I want to cross off my to-do list. If I’m focussed, I usually work until 4pm, but in moments of struggle I’ll break up my schedule by going swimming to help clarify my ideas. It almost always works for me!
What has most inspired your work to date?
Before studying design, I studied History, so Art History is a continuous source of inspiration. Art is very present in my daily life and in my studio and it inspires the work I create. Also, although it sounds clichéd, I find inspiration almost everywhere, which is wonderful, as any idea can spark a new project.
I have been inspired by the manual work of women in the mountain villages a few miles from my city, how the dough rises in my grandmother’s oven, an art-deco staircase, the way the stories I read to my daughter are illustrated. Truly, I find inspiration almost everywhere, the difficult thing is to choose which ideas and projects to carry out.
What’s the last piece of illustration that made you go ‘wow’?
I’m a big fan of Jessica Hische and I love her latest book: Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave. It’s the kind of book I’d like to do!
To see more of Raquel’s work, view her portfolio here.