Another inspiring woman with a brilliant attitude has appeared on my radar. Spanish illustrator Maria Herreros whose portraits shed a heroic light on who we’d previously see as misfits with shameful behaviours and make us question our societal norms. With two published books and commissions for big names like Coca-Cola, Reebok and El Pais, her portfolio is rapidly becoming a heavyweight.
I grabbed her quickly before she’d outgrow a basic email convo, two social media gals between. We talk about female identity, how to get out of a creative rut and what to do with 20k followers gathered in one venue.
Hi Maria, thanks for having a chat with me! I obviously think you rock, but for those unfamiliar with you, could you describe yourself?
Thanks! As a person, I’m very nervous. I talk fast and loud and smile a lot, apart from when I’m working with my art. Then suddenly I get super quiet and focused and can spend hours without uttering a word.
Where are you in this exact moment and what are you up to?
Right now I’m at my studio in Barcelona and working on my next book about Hollywood myths, that will come out on March with Lunwerg. I have a bright white studio (a room in my house) with good light and a nice balcony. Although I’m currently searching for space in a shared studio, because I need a more clear separation in my mind between my spare time and work.
“Nature is cruel. Apparently, women have an expiration date for some duties we have not signed up for. Are we angry? You haven´t heard anything yet.”
You have a few projects tackling the societal perception of women like ‘Women of the Future’ and ‘Black Widow, Red Bitch’. The description of your book ‘Botanical Rage’ read “Apparently women have an expiration date for societal duties they have not signed up for.” Can you tell us more about your thoughts around female identity?
It’s an issue that is reflected through my work, although not always consciously. I hope that one day we don’t have to talk about it, but nowadays, there is still some feminine qualities that society tells us we have to embody. Some of them are not even innate, it’s just society telling us how to behave, which applies just as much to men. Something as simple as there being different rules to how we are supposed to put our legs when we sit. It shouldn’t be this way…
You recently reached over 20k on Instagram, congrats! What impact has the internet and social media had on your career?
It’s been good for my work, but in order for it to be beneficial I think your relationship with social media has to be honest and organic. You can’t just force it or pretend your work is something that it isn’t. People aren’t dumb and it’s dangerous to be too dependent on it.
Let’s say you were able to gather the entirety of your followers in the real world, what would you do with them?
Thank you! I guess we’ll start with drawing and talking quietly to then end up drinking beer and dancing around, watching crazy Youtube videos or talking about conspiracy theories or giant squids.
”A page from my first illustrated book FENÓMENO about human phenomenon. This guy was a Mexican mine worker with a tumor on his head, and they took him to the circus with this fake evil twin”
What has been you proudest moment in your career so far?
The first time someone told me they wanted to publish a book with my drawings. [Fenomeno, an illustrated book about the corporal human phenomenon.] I danced around the house doing crazy little steps like a raccoon.
What do you wish somebody would hire you to do?
The front cover of a good novel. Authors need their books to stand out on the shelves. I’d like the challenge of making an attention-grabbing illustration that says something about the novel but where you hide some secrets at first. When the reader has finished reading, they can then have a second look at the cover and fully understand. Plus I love the thought of reading a book, knowing that I’m working at the same time.
What’s the weirdest request you’ve received?
Someone offered me plane tickets to his isolated cottage house in the countryside to paint the headboard of his bed. I like Stephen King novels, so I obviously didn’t go.
Woah! That sounds creepy. Have you met any assholes in your profession? And how do you deal with them?
Sure, but I consider myself lucky as it’s been relatively few. Some have tried to use a professional commission to flirt whilst more serious cases include artwork appropriation with commercial intentions. Then I simply reached out to them to let them know that they have to compensate for it or else I would denounce them. It’s always best to be upfront with these things and not feel fear. The law protects us.
What’s your best tip for getting out of a creative rut?
Effort, a lot of work and practice. Don’t try to imitate one single artist that you admire. Put your work out there once you are genuinely proud of it and can say it’s yours, then believe in it and have faith in yourself. You should be proud of your work because then you’ll wish to show it to the world and will have the perfect attitude to sell it.
Also, lead an interesting life where you can take inspiration from. Don’t only draw or paint, but watch movies, read, carefully listen to music. And start exercising because it’s plenty of hours on a chair.
This feature is about highlighting inspirational women so I’d like to know who are your biggest girl crushes are and why!
FKA Twigs, Zendaya, Chloe Sevigny, Sofia Coppola, Sofia Loren and Georgia O´Keeffe. Strong women that are not there to reassure someone else’s insecurities.
It was lovely having you, thanks for being bloody wicked! xx
Thanks to you. It´s been a pleasure, I love this section, please keep doing it!!
Previous interviews with inspiring women:
– DJ Hannah Faith
– Artist Rebecca Larsson (Dear Pravda)
– Indonesian lifestyle blogger Rosalinda Tjioe (Nine in the Afternoon)
– Fashion blogger Clarissa Henry (Vintage Doll Risa)
– Instagram twins Elisabeth & Victoria Lejonhjärta (@Lejonhjerta)
All images are by Maria Herreros