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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"I was always drawn in the art direction" • Adrián Macho

Many people associate the name Adrián Macho with the children's book The Whale, the Sea and the Stars, the story of a whale named Gerda, which he illustrated. Several years have passed since its launch, and Adrián himself has many successful projects.

In the following interview he talks not only about those projects and how he got from illustration design and work in an advertising agency to illustration and his own creation.

Hi Adrián! Do you remember your artistic beginnings?

Even as a very young child I liked to sit in the corner and draw, or at least try to. I was always drawn in that direction, or rather, artistic expression was something that was intrinsic to me. I often heard that I had a talent and my family and my surroundings encouraged me in this. Later I attended an elementary art school, where I got under some professional guidance the basics of drawing.

Did you also get to study illustration itself?

I have never studied illustration as a discipline, at school I was involved in ceramics and working with clay and glazes. Later I started to work with graphic design and working with fonts in my spare time. With occasional job offers, a job in an advertising agency quickly followed. From there it was just a step to digital drawing.

Digital drawing has been a big hit lately. What were your beginnings with the tablet and all the possibilities that technology offers?

I started step by step with simple drawings and more or less just experimented and played with colours. But very quickly I found a handwriting and a place that suits me and makes my work recognizable.

Your handwriting is really easily recognizable. What projects are you currently working on?

Lately I've been working mainly on books for kids. Apart from my own books, I also illustrate books for other authors. I'm currently working on three books and I think there will be some more this year.

What stories do you like to illustrate the most?

Most recently, I've had the great pleasure of working on the annual covers of the Harry Potter saga, where in addition to illustration, I also did graphic design. I've always loved the story and honestly never dreamed I'd ever have the opportunity to contribute to this magical world.

And who is your favourite book author whose books you would like to illustrate in the future?

Actually, it has already come true and I didn't expect it at all, so I don't have any big ambitions right now. If the opportunity presents itself, I'd love to try something by Tolkien. I think it could be a whole new look at his stories and a way to reach a new generation of readers.

So do you prefer to create digital art, or do you prefer a good old pencil and a paper?

Lately I've been using digital drawing in my work, but I can't do without paper and classical techniques either. For example, when working on Potter, I sketched some elements with pen and Indian ink. It helped me to get closer to the subject matter itself, but it was also an active form of relaxation for me, when I mainly took a break from screens and tablets.

Do you have any favourite KOH-I-NOOR products?

Last time I purchased watercolors, a few tubes of acrylic and a watercolor sketchbook.

We are glad to hear that! What is your favourite art technique?

I'm quite fond of pen and Indian ink drawing. Lately I've also been trying to play with colours and combining acrylic paints with watercolours.

And the other way around, are there any advantages that digital drawing has over traditional art techniques?

The way of working when drawing digitally is completely different, with traditional techniques I have to plan every step beforehand, and know how the material and colour behaves after drying. With digital drawing, I can always go back a few steps if I'm not happy with something. With traditional techniques like watercolor, I only ever have one go at it and it's mostly always about exploration and experimentation.

Is there any other artistic field you are interested in besides illustrating books?

Yes, I also design textile accessories for small and bigger children. So not only product design, but also working with patterns. A couple of years ago I started a small textile studio with friends where we handmake all these things like shaped cushions, blankets, sofa bags and lately also paper accessories.

By small textile studio, you are probably referring to the popular Mellow brand. What can you tell us about it?

It started all by accident. One day I was thinking about what I would give my family and friends for Christmas. They were always expecting some of my creations rather than something from the shopping mall. I had the idea to print a few metres of fabric and make a few fox shaped cushions. Everybody loved them and it seemed like a nice idea to try and start making and selling something similar locally.

Mellow's target market is mostly young children, why?

It's kind of connected to children's books, like Gerda the Whale. I had the character of the whale drawn first, and while on my way back from holiday I came up with the idea of making up a story for her and possibly drawing a whole book.

However our customers are also adults, too. People often write to us saying that although they officially bought it for their children, they will keep it mainly for themselves.

We fully understand this and have a very similar experience. Is fine art more of a work or a hobby for you?

For me, lately it's mostly work, at least digital drawing. Traditional techniques, on the other hand, are more relaxing and a hobby for me.

Are there any projects, whether personal or those related to Mellow, that you are planning in the near future?

As I mentioned, I'd like to do illustrations for a few books this year, and not just for children.

We're working on new products in Mellow now, as the pandemic last year changed a number of plans for all of us. We'll see what life brings us next.

We wish you all the best Adrián!



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