Instagram: @martinelfman

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

My story is complex and convoluted. A traveling history in several languages of comings and goings that have shaped my identity.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the day that would later be sadly remembered as “The Night of the Pencils”, in which secondary students who claimed a student bus ticket were kidnapped and killed.

When I was five years old we went with my parents and my sister to live in San Diego, California. There we were less than a year, when, after the end of the dictatorship and the beginning of democracy in Argentina, my parents decided to return to Buenos Aires. My father remembers that return as his “last credulity crisis.”

I was 13 when we went to live in a Kibbutz in Israel. There I finished school and then, shortly after turning 18 and before entering Israeli compulsory military service, we moved to Barcelona. Then I have lived many years around: Lisbon, Venice, Naples (where I worked for years as a street cartoonist) and later in La Paz, Bolivia, where my son was born. Since 2015, I have returned to live in Barcelona that in one way or another has always been my reference city and my base of operations. At the moment, here we are.

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2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

The aesthetics of my work is sober: few colors and simple shapes without superfluous ornaments to put the focus on the idea, the graphic concept that solves the puzzle generated by the text it illustrates. I like that, whenever possible, in these “solutions” unexpected or impossible things happen. My illustrations sneak up on the text and whisper: “Do you dance?”

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

I usually work in digital media because of its versatility and efficiency.

4. What is your artistic process like?

I usually work on editorial projects. After reading the text carefully and identifying the author’s approach to the subject, I begin to think about what I would like to say about it. What the text says, what it suggests, what is silent. I think that having studied journalism helps me to have a broader look at this part of the process. From there I start making sketches in my notebook using symbols related to the subject, symbols that lead to other images until an idea that brings a new light emerges. It is my favorite moment of the creative process, the spark in which everything fits and an unexpected solution appears. From that moment, with that little finding in my pocket, once the idea is approved, it only remains to find the most beautiful possible combination of shapes, in which nothing is missing or leftover, to materialize it on the screen of my computer.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work?

So many things inspire my work. Literature, cinema, theater, journalism, television series, social networks, the work of other colleagues, art, conferences, conversations with friends (conversations with strangers, conversations with enemies), my son’s observations, my travels, chance.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Art in its broadest sense has a capital role in my life. From the comic strip to the theater, from the opinion column to the literary essay, from the art of Picasso to that of graphic novels to equestrian drawings. It gives meaning to life and a place in history while questioning it and making it wider and more complex, deeper and more fun.

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7. Where did you study?

I studied journalism in Barcelona.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t know where we will be in 5 years. We may be encouraged to try to live in some other country. These are difficult changes, but I like them. Regenerate our neurons adorned by routine. They make us be attentive, awake, flexible and permeable. They are a new possible life within our life.

9. What about in ten?

In ten, I might be back in Barcelona. Or maybe not. I will probably be making illustrations or drawing in some way.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I hope to communicate with people, find ways to tell things that matter to them. And I hope to have fun.

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11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

My favorite food is pasta. And some typical Argentine cuts of meat.

12. Favourite book?

Today my favorite book is I Am, I Am, I Am a memoir by Irish writer Maggie O’Farrel. And The Stranger, By Albert Camus.

13. Favourite genre of music?

Bosanova, Tango, some Italian music. Some songwriters like Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits.

14. What are your hobbies?

Drawing, reading and playing ping pong.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

Probably a journalist, graphic designer or astronaut.

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