Prada’s flagship stores in LA and NY have new occupants. Watching over your retail adventures are the kittenish models from the season’s campaign, reinterpreted into larger-than-life portraits; alluring, teasing, surprising, delighting. For Barcelona-based fashion illustrator Marcela Gutiérrez the portraits may be her first major foray into the industry, but her portfolio reveals laudable experience.
Not unlike many of her contemporaries, Gutiérrez came to fashion inspired by the late Alexander McQueen, following his footsteps and gaining a BA in fashion design at Central Saint Martins. The Guatemalan-raised artist, 32, went on to work with her idol, designing the prints influenced by Japanese culture and tattoos that was seen in his spring 2005 show. She has also just recently illustrated scenes for Beyonce’s '4' commercial launch. Dazed finds out more about this blossoming talent.
Dazed Digital: You’ve had a background in architecture, graphic design and fashion design. How did you come to the decision that illustration was the path to take?
Marcela Gutiérrez: I didn't really decide on illustration, it was a natural progression for me. I’ve always loved to draw and paint and over the years, I realised that my real strength was in painting, so I combined that with my experience in fashion design. And by chance, the work I produce has turned out to be interesting for the fashion industry.
DD: Congrats on your work in the Prada stores. How did this experience come about and what was it like?
Marcela Gutiérrez: It was a thrill. I am a big fan of Prada so I was honoured when 2x4 asked me to collaborate. I recently had an exhibition in LA where I showed mostly portraits inspired by my favourite fashion photography, and I was asked to interpret the models from the a/w 11 campaign in the same style: realistic but treating the clothes abstract, and with high contrasts.
DD: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Marcela Gutiérrez: It was the fact that I had to produce nine large portraits in such a short time, given the magnitude of the project. Sometimes when you have the added pressure of a time limit, you have only one chance to do a good job so subconsciously you do your best.
DD: How would you describe your style?
Marcela Gutiérrez: It's hard for me define a certain style because I feel I am constantly evolving. I do have a tendency to mix realism with spontaneity.
DD: How do you typically approach a new project?
Marcela Gutiérrez: It's always a surprise how I go about a painting. I begin with a sense of control and care to convey the subject of my illustration. It's a delicate process. I then switch into a completely different mode, which is almost the opposite of how I start. I move intuitively with colours and brush strokes - this is the visceral and emotional part of the process. I get an adrenalin rush during this risky part, because I am painting just on instinct. It's a moment where my artwork can either be ruined or become a good final piece; it's what I think makes them feel alive. My process of creating a painting is perhaps what determines my style.
DD: Who inspires you?
Marcela Gutiérrez: Christian Schoeler never ceases to inspire me, his paintings are mesmerising.
DD: What are your plans for the near future?
Marcela Gutiérrez:At the moment I’m preparing a series of paintings that will be exhibited next year in NYC. I also have an exciting collaboration coming up soon with Rankin and I am working on a charitable project with Moleskine.