Illustrating as a Profession | El Primo Ramón
last updated 30 June 2020
Originally trained as an architect, Bright Artist El Primo Ramón’s illustration career started from his work in graphic design and architecture, evolving until he was able to become a full-time illustrator. He now works on projects ranging from publishing, editorial, branding and design, with clients including Usborne Publishing, BBC-CBeebies, VCCP London and Pearson.
Here, we caught up with Ramón to discuss his creative career, recent projects and sources of inspiration.
El Primo Ramón
Tell us a bit about some of your recent projects?
I’ve been working on very diverse projects lately, and that’s thrilling! I’ve done a couple of pieces for an exhibition in a local gallery where I was asked to interpret my hometown’s history; I’ve also produced a set of images for the BBC-CBeebies, a great experience where I illustrated a collection of short tales, and I’ve also been working on packaging for a honey brand in Yemen. A few months ago, I also had the chance to illustrate three Aesop’s fables for Ta-Chien, a Chinese Publisher.
Digi-tales for CBeebies
How do you go about approaching an illustration for a brief?
I usually do a research before I start sketching. If it’s a brand illustration, I try to understand the product itself, as well as the company; if it’s editorial work, I read the text carefully a couple of times. Sometimes I also take a look at work by other illustrators I like for inspiration. After that first stage, I start sketching based on a bunch of suggestions taken from that research.
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
Everywhere! We are living in a very dynamic moment for visual arts. Everyday you receive a lot of inputs from social media or advertising, which I believe become something of an ‘unconscious background’ for any illustrator. When I feel I need some extra sources of inspiration, I look here and there: other illustrator’s works, of course, but I also try to watch films, look at photographs or paintings I find touching.
Sketch & final illustration for CBeebies’ Digi-Tale project
What are your favourite themes/subjects to explore in your work?
I like to move on. I enjoy testing new palettes for almost every project, or even trying new software every now and then. I enjoy that idea of ‘exploring’ in itself! I feel comfortable with the feeling that every project suggests a particular path. That said, obviously, there are some graphical features I keep, otherwise I guess I’d go mad, hahahaha!
Packaging illustration and design
What’s your dream client to work with?
I don’t think I have just one. I love any kind of project, as long as I feel that my work is valued, and I reckon I have been lucky in this respect. The most important thing is to get good client-illustrator communication and, of course, a fee that all parties find fair. I think that when all are happy, the creative result is better.
Hometown history project
What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
The only advice I can give is to never give up if you really want to become a professional illustrator. Working hard every day helps, because the more you try the more solid your personal graphic language becomes. And, of course, once you are in, take it seriously: try to always meet deadlines, be disciplined with your work schedule (even if you work at home), try to understand the client…. This is a profession and I find it very important to be a good professional in a wide sense.
Beer packaging illustration
How has Bright made a difference to your career?
The agency allowed me to become a full-time professional illustrator. I couldn’t have done it working for a mostly local market. Bright opened up the doors for me to reach a wider audience in an international market, which means much better working conditions and more ambitious projects.
You can see more of El Primo Ramón’s work in his portfolio.