This week, we spoke to the lovely Maria Medem about her studio, her life in sunny Spain and the release of her latest book CENIT.
Hey Maria, what’re you up to today?
Not much, it’s Sunday morning right now, so I’ve had breakfast, walked with my dog and finished reading a book. I think I’m going to draw a bit afterwards and perhaps eat out, although it’s really foggy here.
You’re based in Spain right? Tell us more about your space and what the art scene like there?
I am based in Sevilla, and I work from home. I used to had a shared studio, but I found out that I work much better on my own, I can focus way more. But it’s true that sometimes it’s a bit tough, being the whole day in the same place. I would like to have a big studio just for myself. But the truth is that I haven’t really started to search for it yet. I’m now about to move out, so perhaps after I’ll start the search!
Regarding the scene, it isn’t really big, although now is bigger than a few years back, in my opinion. For instance, last year there was the first edition of a little zine fair. I lived a year in Barcelona, where there is a much bigger art scene that I did enjoy it a lot, but I discovered that I don’t like big cities very much, at least for now.
How’s your 2019 going so far? What does your typical day look like in your studio?
It’s going very well, I’m very glad and grateful! I have worked on very interesting commissions so far and with very nice art directors, which is something that I really appreciate, because you can learn a lot from them. I haven’t been drawing any comics for a month or so, because last year I drew comics almost every day – or at least it felt like that, but now I’m starting a new one after this little break.
Usually I start working just after having breakfast and taking the walk with my dog. The fresh air in the morning suits me very well, also my neighbourhood is very quiet and there almost isn’t anyone on the streets at that time, only fellow dog walkers. After that I start working. If I have to work on new ideas I do that part on the morning, because it’s the time of the day when I feel that my thoughts are fresher and I leave the execution for the evening. Also I’m now trying to use my computer as little as possible, it distracts me too much and tires me as well. So I’m using photo books that I have at home for references if I need to. I find the limitations of these books useful , you have to appreciate the little details of the photographs with more attention than when you look them at the internet, because there are limited number of pictures so you have to make the most of it. One advantage of working at home is that I can take showers whenever I feel to, so if I’m very stuck with an idea, I do that, it does help me!
At the end of last year you released your book CENIT (Congrats btw!), how has it been received and did you feel a great sense of relief when it was finished and ready for publishing or are you straight onto something else?
Thank you! I was very relieved, indeed. It was a hard process, especially at the end, because I spent the summer finishing it, and I had to repeat a lot of things. For example I wrote all the texts all over again, because my initial handwriting was a bit ugly, so I started correcting things in almost all the pages, sometimes I would draw them again, because I found a lot of flaws. It was a bit of a spiral of perfectionism, but luckily there was a deadline so it had to stop at some point.
Also I was lucky enough to have a very nice publishers, Toni and Sergi, who helped me all the way through it and made it less tough. And i’m very happy with how it was received! To me the book is a bit like when you repeat a word a lot of times and doesn’t have sense anymore or you look at something too closely. I’ve been too much into it and I’m not very able to judge it. This year I want to publish some zines, but would like to start working on a longer book as well. I do enjoy drawing comics.
We love how bold, vivid and other-worldy your illustrations feels on risograph printing. Where does that come from?
Thank you! I think it was a thing of trial and error. When I first started working on comics and illustrations I didn’t feel comfortable with colour at all, so I would do everything rather monochromatic. But eventually I started to try to understand it. I think it’s very important for me to keep always in mind the atmosphere that I want to transmit. I love working with riso because of the opacities, it seems to me like painting. You can mix blue and yellow and create a lot of different greens, and there’s always the thing that you are not very sure of how it is exactly going to turn out, there will be always something a bit misprinted, and I enjoy that as well.
What’s your go to for when you’re stuck for inspiration?
I like to take walks with my dog, I also practice Aikido and that helps me very much, because that’s two hours in which I don’t think of anything, something very helpful sometimes! The showers, also… I don’t know. When I feel very stuck and I’m tired, I just stop and try to relax and to leave it for the next day. Not all the days can be full of new ideas, and perhaps an idea that I find awful today, seems to me interesting tomorrow.
Thanks, Maria. Have a nice day.
Thanks to you!! Have a nice day.