1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hola! I am Marina Tena, I’m from the beautiful city of Barcelona! I am an editorial graphic designer who happens to be a digital illustrator as well. Even at the age of eight, I already knew I wanted to make books: I used to write the plot, illustrated the content, and read it to all my friends in the playground (those were the good old days!). Looking back now, I’m not even surprised about it. Although I spend half my day on a part-time job in a Design Agency and the other half working as a Freelance Designer and Illustrator, I never get tired when it comes to working on any of my personal projects: That’s where I find total creative freedom!
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
What we normally refer to as “our style” in illustration will always change and evolve, so I don’t take it very seriously.
I go over every simple artwork several times analyzing what it is that I like and don’t. I edit and redo each piece an insane number of times until it looks good to me! (At least i’m coming clean, okay?). What I can ensure is that, every single art piece has a personal message behind it. I can also say that the only decision I consciously made was to pack my illustrations with terrific-looking non-normative women! The world needs more beautiful hairy legs!
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I mostly work on Procreate on my Ipad, or Photoshop on my computer (we could say that’s my comfort zone, maybe because of the graphic designer way of thinking). However, I also love to get my hands all dirty with charcoal or ink and put my brushes to work!
4. What is your artistic process like?
Everything comes from an idea. Let’s say I had a bad day and I need to heal from it, or maybe I had the best day and I just want to rejoice in it. Either way, I begin to doodle, looking for the most appropriate graphic way to express what’s already so clear in my chest. From then on, the process is usually quite intuitive, even though I’ll sometimes search for references on Instagram or Pinterest if I am stuck on something that is not working. That’ll help me clear up my mind.
Generating this kind of work should be fun, so every time I am working on an illustration I try not to judge myself too hard. I am certain that what I’m working on will eventually look just as I wanted it to look like! Just bare in mind some artworks will need more time than others, but it’s all just part of the game!
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Even though my current references are contemporary illustrators, I really think I’ve always been interested in any kind of art that broadens my perspective creatively. Significantly, my favourite place to visit anywhere I travel to is always an Arts Museum. I’m sure this defines who I am as a person and, consequently, part of who I am as a creative.
If I am to mention any names, I’d say Soul Bass, Quentin Blake, Kirstin Uken, Katie Smith, Rocío Diestra, or Miguel Bustos.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
For me, art has always been my favourite way to untangle whatever’s happening inside me, emotionally speaking. A year ago, for example, I had this big anxiety-filled crisis. Not because of something specially terrible happening in my life, but because I wasn’t able to pay attention or understand what my mind and body were going through. I then started writing and drawing about those feelings, even though I couldn’t really grasp the entirety of what they meant. That way I saw those feelings in a different, brand new light, and I did find them easier to understand.
So, in short: Art is the best tool I’ve found to keep myself from losing my mind.
7. Where did you study?
I got my degree from Elisava, in Barcelona. Also, I got to participate in an exchange program and studied in Finland. I think that experience shaped my understanding and view on education, how I conceive design, or how I perceive what life is about. Mind you, I come from a Mediterranean city, and I suddenly found myself living in a country at -30º and 3 hours of sun a day (It may sound extreme, but i loved every bit of it!).
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Working as a freelancer in Spain is harder than in most European countries, because of the abusive taxing. However, I’d love to be able to create a solid career in the design and illustration field as a freelance artist!
9. What about in ten?
I just want to be able to say “Everything’s coming up Milhouse” about my last answer;) If I were to dream bigger, I would love to keep on having a blast with beautiful conscious little projects whilst earning a good salary, and still being as passionate as I am today. I never have as much fun as I do when I’m working, and I think that’s genuinely awesome!
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I would love to have one of my books published, building a name in the field… But mostly, what I want is to get better and better with each day that passes, and never to cease evolving as an artist.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Fried eggs. I don’t need anything else. (Well, a good piece of bread to dip in it!)
12. Favourite book?
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak (I read it 5 times and cried every time). Also, I’ve recently come across a few gems like “Born a crime” by Trevor Noah; and generally anything published by Blackie Books, a little independent editorial from Barcelona.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Spanish, and mostly Catalan indie is what I listen to the most. I also spend hours listening to Rumba Catalana, my true love in this world.
My favourite group of all time would be “els Manel”. They possess this extraordinary capacity to tell brilliant stories through their songs. To anyone reading this: check them out on Spotify, for the love of God! (You’ll thank me later).
14. What are your hobbies?
I love watching any sort of audiovisual material (Be it movies, series, documentaries, anything really), but mostly I’d say hanging out with people I love. Having a beer in a terrace after work is all I need to be happy one more day;)
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
If I have to be honest, I never considered myself as an artist apart from being a designer. However, if I’d have to pick, I’d love to work in something related to history or audiovisual production. Maybe having a little book store. Who knows?