This November, we sit down with the ASTOUNDing Teresa Martinez and catch up with the latest in her illustration journey and learn more about her artistic process…
Hi Teresa! After such a successful year, our readers would love to hear about how your career began. What was the first book you ever illustrated?
At the beginning I’ve worked with publishing agencies for a few years and then a friend invited me to do a few vignettes for a Richmond (Mexico) preschool book, around 2004.
From a few vignettes to full picture books, what a great journey! How have you grown as an illustrator since that first project?
I’ve polished my style and technique. Having worked in many books throughout the years I’ve learned to adapt my style depending on the story. Color theory is something I developed too, I’ve learned from many books and from studying the masters of the impressionism, now I can go from a subdued palette to a vibrant one if required. Each book has its own personality.
We love this about your work, being adaptable while retaining your personal brand and style is such an important skill as an illustrator! Looking back over your past illustrated books and projects, which book holds a special place in your heart?
I feel a soft spot for the first picture book I was commissioned, it was Fabulas Mexicanas (Mexican Fables) published by Edebe in 2009, it was also a special project due to the importance of the historical text. I feel proud for the book Mario and the Hole in the Sky, about the magnificent work and research of Dr Mario Molina, since I always feel it is vital to make science easily accesible to children. It’s Not a Bed it’s a Time Machine is also on my list because I really enjoyed working on all its funny details, it’s about a boy dreaming about dinosaurs, it was crazy!
I’d love to know about your experience working on ‘Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla’. What was it like illustrating a book about such a famous Latina icon?
I felt very proud, she was a huge icon in my hometown, and influenced many girls from my generation, her music was everywhere and made everyone happy. I felt proud to participate in this book, to me it was like a tribute for all those happy days of our childhood.
What is your favorite part of working on a new project? How does the process usually work for you?
I think that what I like the most is when images start to form in my head, like a movie, when reading the text. If that doesn’t happen then it means that it is probably not a book for me. After that I do little rough sketches at the border of the paper, like taking notes. Then I work on a storyboard and place it on my wall so I can analyze the sequence. I move on to do detailed sketches and send them to the editors. After the revisions I visualize a color palette and start painting it, which is a whole other process in itself… But that is mostly how I work.
Wow, such an imaginative process! We’ve loved working with you and getting this behind-the-scenes glance into your life. Could you let our readers know how long you have been represented by Astound, and what your most rewarding experience has been with us so far?
I feel deeply blessed after working with Astound for 4 years. My career has grown thanks to them in a way that it couldn’t been able due to the circumstances in which my country lives. I have had the opportunity to imagine and work on fantastic stories with great people who are so professional and interested in doing beautiful books of a top notch quality.
Have you won any awards during your time as an illustrator?
Yes! This year Mario and the Hole in the Sky won the AAAS/SUBARU prize for the Best Children’s Science Picture Book, that made me really happy.
Congratulations! Is there any advice you could give to aspiring illustrators, from your own personal experience?
To draw a lot, every day and make sure your work is visible, you never know who might be looking.
Great tips, keep creating and keep posting! Thanks so much Teresa!