Take one take a look at Marisol Ortega’s portfolio and also you’ll discover a theme: vibrant pops of colour, linework evoking each an in depth and playful approach, and a plethora of birds, different fauna, and flora. There’s a motive that Ortega—a first-generation Mexican-American designer, illustrator, and letterer—gravitates towards drawing natural world. She is aware of that she will’t precisely draw them to perfection, however she’s impressed by the method it takes for her to achieve that time.
One in every of Ortega’s most up-to-date hen illustrations brings to life considered one of our generally requested hen questions: “What’s the distinction between a raven and a crow?” Each enjoyable and academic, her design consists of key identification suggestions and close-ups of the species’ markers. You can find it here on attire, tote luggage, and extra.
To be taught extra about Ortega’s course of—together with how she created the Raven vs Crow design—her inspiration, and extra, we chatted along with her on Instagram. You’ll be able to watch the entire interview here. A curated model of that interview, which has been edited for size and readability, is included beneath.
How did you get began with illustrating?
I am truly a educated graphic designer, and I wasn’t actually an illustrator. I did not go to highschool for it, however I simply had a ardour for sketching, drawing, and portray. After I was youthful, I type of used artwork as my remedy and exploration, simply making an attempt to attract in nature as a result of I at all times needed to do it. Then over time, I used to be working in-house as a designer, and I had a few jobs the place I realized how you can do illustration…and I simply acquired hooked on it. I stored making an attempt it out, and it took me a extremely very long time to name myself an illustrator, simply because I wasn’t feeling very comfy as a result of I used to be a educated designer. However it’s a unique variation. And for me, it has been tremendous enjoyable to make or draw the road between what’s digital and what’s hand-done. And it is a line I wish to blur and play with rather a lot. In order that’s the place my work is now.
What impressed you as an instance wildlife and birds alongside along with your different work?
As a child, I went to go go to my [grandmother] in Michoacan, Mexico…She at all times used to take a seat outdoors and simply watch the world go by, and it actually made me really feel prefer it was. I had to concentrate to my environment, and I might discover little issues once I would cease and try this…And it actually taught me to look down and up and round and pay attention to issues like that, to understand the tiny issues. And so that is what I attempt to do with my work. I say this once I speak to varsity college students about my profession and why I at all times gravitate towards natural world—it is largely as a result of I do know that I can by no means draw [them] completely, however it’s the method of making an attempt to get there that actually ignites me. It is how I discover totally different mediums and the way I discover totally different sorts of mixtures of issues that work each digitally and hand-done. I do a whole lot of hand-done issues and scan them into the pc and type of digital-collage my approach by it, however it nonetheless seems hand-done. So it is by no means fairly excellent. I can by no means get there, however I wish to strive, in order that’s why I largely stick with natural world.
You be aware that as a Mexican-American artist, your illustrations replicate an exploration of your cultures—are you able to share how that conjures up your artwork?
In essence, it is type of relearning what my grandmother informed me—to concentrate, to look down, lookup throughout and actually attempt to seize a motion, whether or not that be an natural brush line or watercolors or one thing that may inform a narrative and convey that feeling of what it’s that I am making an attempt to take a look at. And so I really feel like a whole lot of my work now does that. However I additionally wish to play with a whole lot of colours. So it is a bit difficult generally to do the much less is extra, however it’s extra of intention and colours. That is often how I carry that again to my work. And oftentimes with birds, I actually take liberties with the colours, however once more, it is largely right down to the main points and the gestural issues that actually make that stand out. So just like the Raven vs Crow—it was concerning the particulars and it was concerning the ink work and the road work. However there have been components of colours that had been combined in and tremendous colourful and vibrant.
What does your creative course of appear to be for a undertaking just like the Raven vs Crow design you created for Audubon, or for a undertaking typically?
Principally, what I ended up doing for this undertaking was ensuring I checked out all of the reference images and looking for a superb angle that might actually make the birds really feel regal. As a result of I wasn’t about to only downplay one and never the opposite. I used to be actually looking for the right place for them to really feel like they’d their very own house. And so the facet profile view is what I ended up going with. And I began doing a bunch of sketches only for total form. Then I began doing a little indigo watercolor backgrounds on my gentle desk. Normally what I find yourself doing is printing out the sketch and placing it on high of my gentle desk with watercolor paper, and I begin doing the watercolor textures. And it is largely only for primary shapes and letting the ink do what it does and bleed off. After which I scan it in and take away the background within the white background in Photoshop, and it is like a digital collage. Then as soon as I’ve my digital collage all sorted out, I print that out and I am going again with a black brush ink, and I simply begin making the varieties, I begin doing the eyes.
For this piece, it was tremendous necessary to take a look at the feathers…I feel once I take a look at black birds, their plumage type of feels prefer it’s all only one colour. However there are numerous shades of that one colour, proper? And within the gentle, they give the impression of being completely off and glossy. So I actually needed to ensure to carry that out. One other focus was the attention and the way it was you. I actually paid consideration to the tiny little particulars, just like the circles across the eyes. I believed the feel was actually cool. With the main points, I used to be doing the identical factor, ensuring that I used to be highlighting the beaks…I feel the remainder of the time I performed with Photoshop and the composition of how I used to be going to do that, and I do know I went by just a few totally different iterations of the format and making them stacked or facet by facet and like, “How are we going to inform whether or not all these info are raven versus the crow?” So it was attention-grabbing to play with the totally different compositions, however nonetheless make the birds really feel necessary.