1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hello! My name is Raúl Gil and I’m an illustrator and designer born in Barcelona (Spain). I currently live in Terrassa with my wife MªCarmen and my son Mael. I’ve dedicated the last eighteen years to projects fundamentally focused on branding and user interface design. Over time, my interest in illustration has been revitalized and now I’m trying to move towards this field, which I find much more stimulating in this moment of my life.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
My ‘aesthetic’—if we can call it so—is the result of a practical need linked to my personal interests. It basically responds to what I find fast and comfortable to do. I’m interested in the value of the stroke and the shapes, saturated colors and a very light use of textures. I try not to overproduce things. Still trying to find the right balance.
On the other hand, it’s very character-based. I love comic books, animation and everything visually intense and colorful. But, paradoxically, I have a rather dark, pessimistic view of the world. So my work would be a rare mixture of both things.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Digital. It is difficult to match the flexibility and speed of the digital medium. It may not be a very popular opinion, but I probably would not dedicate myself to this if I did not have digital media within my reach.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Pretty standard! A first purely ‘mental’ stage, reading and researching, followed by another one focused on thumbnails. Then, some more concise sketches that can be reviewed by a client and then I feel the need to do what we could consider the final pre-color drawing, which tends to be excessively precise and requires too much time. I’m currently trying to minimize this stage. I’d say 10% of the time is dedicated to research, 70% to sketches and another 20% to color.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
It sounds cliché, but life itself is inspiring. My son is a constant source of inspiration. What happens out there on a day-to-day basis is inspiring. Personally, I feel that something moves inside me when I visit places that are not very inhabited and close to nature: mysterious forests and captivating lakes, lost towns, ancient ruins… places where you can listen to the wind and build that little mental tale that will accompany you for a long time. I do not like big cities too much.
Being more specific, I practically learnt to read with comic books, so the authors that have influenced and inspired me the most possibly come from this field. First, classic American authors and, later, many other Europeans. I like Spanish artists and illustrators such as Max, Daniel Torres, Javier Olivares, Arnal Ballester or Santiago Sequeiros among many, many others. These days I’m learning a lot from much younger illustrators that I respect a lot.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art is a natural necessity in my environment. Fortunately I am surrounded by people who feel the same: writers, artists, actresses… It’s not voluntary or conscious, it’s simply part of my life on several levels. It’s difficult for me to conceive my life without art as a spectator or consumer, although I don’t consider myself an artist.
7. Where did you study?
I studied at l’Escola Municipal d’Art i Disseny de Terrassa (Barcelona), a humble but endearing local school where I carried out my graphic design studies and knew fantastic people, my wife among them. It’s the only specific training that I have received and the one that has allowed me to develop as a designer for almost twenty years. Illustration was one of many mandatory subjects there. One not especially well-developed, though. I’ve never received any artistic training.
8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully dedicating less time to graphic design and more to illustration, which is my main interest right now. For this reason, my current portfolio does not include specific design projects. I would also like to see resolved some editorial projects that I have been developing with my wife for a while.
9. What about in ten?
Devoting much more time to personal projects that allow me to live on them, be it in the publishing sector or in the creation of applications or video games, an activity to which I have also dedicated a lot of time. In any case, projects in which illustration is present in some way. Oh! And living in a small and comfortable house in which we have more space and light to create and share things.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
Well, I’m not sure I make ‘art’. I don’t define myself as an artist. Or perhaps we should define what art is, which is complex. It’s obvious that I do what I do because there is some personal need to express myself. I suppose that any person with some type of artistic interest wishes to offer a point of view about what surrounds him/her or what he/she feels, regardless of the means used. But it is totally perfect if—in addition—I fulfill a communicative objective that enriches others’ lives and perspectives. A different kind of goal could be to inspire other people to express themselves or tell their own stories, just as other artists have inspired me to do so. Something humble and great at the same time.
11. Now tell us a little more about you. What is your favourite food?
Probably a good legumes salad accompanied by fresh sprouts and vegetables and/or cereals. In fact I’m a big fan of our Mediterranean cuisine. But I can’t deny chocolate is one of my weaknesses 😦
12. Favourite book?
It’s hard to say… but Patrick Harpur’s essays are readings that I have discovered in the last ten years and that I have especially liked. Daimonic Reality, for instance. Very powerful stuff, especially if you are interested in philosophy and the human psyche in general.
13. Favourite genre of music?
I like many different genres, but probably the one that has most influenced me in my life has been the trip-hop of the 90s (Massive Attack, Portishead…) as well as experimental or alternative music. You can read much more about this topic in the ‘Favourites’ section of my website.
14. What are your hobbies?
When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my family. Any plan with them is a good one. Visiting nice places, watching films with them, playing video games together… On the other hand, I dedicate all the time I can to training. Or at least the time that my life and my work allow me. I practice martial arts and every week I teach Taekwondo to senior students. I’m currently preparing myself for my 5th dan black belt. My son is also starting his path in martial arts, which makes me real proud 🙂
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Although I wanted to be a psychologist when I was in high school, I would probably be some kind of craftsman or someone who makes a living by making useful things with his hands, in some kind of balance between aesthetics and function. For example, a carpenter.