an article written by Ciruelo for the book Writers of the Future Anthology #34
published in 2018 in the USA

When I'm asked the question "when did you start drawing?" I would like to answer with another question that makes more sense to me: "when did everybody stop drawing?".
Everyone draws when they are kids because art is a natural form of self-expression for everybody, but most people abandon it at some point because they are prompted to do a "real" job within a society that consider art just a hobby and a leisure activity.

I am just someone who keeps on doing the same thing I've been doing since childhood. After many years of professional career I still mantain the same passion for playing around with lines and colors that I had when I was a kid.
Preserving that primal joy is a constant task I try to accomplish everyday aswell as stimulating my curiosity and my capacity for wonder.
Those are exercises I would advise everybody in general.
That may sound very romantic for someone who wants to start an artistic career in a world where the financial aspects are decisive, but that's my way of approaching my work.

Let's establish up front that professional artists are part of those few privileged people who love their job. I'm convinced that doing the job you love is more rewarding than anything, and that ultimately happiness leads to success. So, that's an unbeatable factor to have into account when considering to pursue a career passion.
For somebody who wants to be a freelance artist this profession provides many other satisfactions like the possibility to manage his own time, the opportunity to have his studio at home and the advantage of being his own boss.
However, some prefer to work as employees for a company because that simplifies many business issues and on the artistic aspect may provide wonderful possibilities like, for instance, working in a team.

At this point I should explain a bit of my biography: I was born in Argentina and lost my father at the age of four, therefore my mother had to go out to work all day to raise two children, so I reached the age of eighteen well aware of the meaning of "economic deprivation". Despite that, in my career as a professional illustrator I have always chosen the more artistic and creative projects instead of the more profitable ones. Probably that's due to the fact that I was used to live a modest life, so money didn't appeal me more than the satisfaction of being more free creativity-wise, especially within the fantasy art field.
I am a freelance illustrator since the age of twenty-one which means that I haven't had a monthly income ever since. However, I have always worked with passion trying to do my best on every piece no matter how much I would be paid for it. For that reason my art was able to build a personal style over a specific theme subject, dragons, and eventually found its path in the international market, which means that it turned out to be lucrative too.

My personal experience makes me give the following advice to young artists: set your priority on the artistic facet instead of the economic side. That's an approach that will always reward you.
Other more pragmatic recommendations I can give are: be self-disciplined, learn from practice, improve your skills, experiment, search for the appropriate market, work hard, prepare a good portfolio and send it out to as many potential clients as you can...

For some reason I have a strong tendency to focus on the less material aspects of art. For example, I love to explore my own imagination playing with images created in my mind's eye, storing them in my memory and exercising visualization. In fact, one of the things I like the most is to study the creativity's machinery since I think is the essence of art and one of the biggest mysteries of humankind.

Painting takes me long work hours during which I have peculiar thoughts and reflections coming to my mind, and I write them down in a notebook along with lots of rough sketches. Some of the sketches end up becoming paintings and some of the notes eventually get published in a collection of small books that I call Notebooks.
Now I would like to share a few of those notes here for they reveal my inner thoughts on the art process:

"I understand art as the act in which one applies the best of oneself by employing as much creativity as possible. I believe it to be an alliance between beauty and bliss.
But above all, it is an attitude.
I draw so as to remember. Because I feel that sometimes we forget that we inhabit a sphere that travels through space rotating around other spheres.
We usually forget that everything is very magical and I believe art to be the proper attitude that we should adopt when we are before so much magic."

"I first organized my time by drawing on even numbered days and writing on odd numbered days. Faced with my inability to remember what day it was, I switched to drawing in the mornings and writing in the evenings. But I finally chose to put aside any type of planning, drawing and writing at the beckoning of inspiration. I learned to be very messy within my strict organization. Also I am sometimes uncertain whether the idea that comes to me is to be captured in a drawing or by way of a written text."

Sometimes these texts get a bit more poetic which is also a good way of explaining all these magical processes of creating fantasy art:

"When I draw, something climbs up my spine, coiling itself around me and whistling. Something itches me in my bones and then pours under my tongue.
They could be electrical impulses or some sort of light that simply overcomes me.
But I’m inclined to think that what stirs inside of me when I draw, is in fact particles of stars that merely want to return to their galaxy."

"Imprisoned by a state of daydreaming, a very young girl looked at one of my drawings with special interest. Within the sparkle of her eyes, I suddenly discovered the same tiny stars that I possessed in my eyes while creating that drawing. I then realized that the most valuable purpose of my art is to spread that sparkle in the eyes of people."

"When nothing to draw comes to mind, I implement a few tricks to fool my anxiety. For example: I pretend I am distracted and start playing with the pencil making it doodle spirals and stars. With a little luck, the pencil finds its way and I just follow. The first lines look familiar because they come from muscular memory. They are shapes that time has recorded in my mind and that my hand draws automatically. I have to be patient with them and let them out. Once they have gone, I begin to stalk attentively. That means that I try to hunt any shape that seems interesting to me and extend it, enrich it, feed it. So the time to daydream arrives; I am succumbed to a river of visions and sensations that begin to tell a tale. Finally, when the drawing has taken shape, all that remains is knowing when to stop."

“I firmly believe that everyone is born with some sort of artistic talent, the problem is that most people don't harvest it. What's more, they don't realize it even exists. And then, given the obligations of society, they end up working at something that is in no way related to that primitive talent and stray further from their mission. I dare say that therein lies the outlying problem of most human beings."

"I can give some explanation for most of my drawings, but there are others on which I cannot even venture an opinion. They come from mysterious sources inside me that I do not even know about."

"The artist learns to wait for magic. In the meantime, he lives with frustration and effort.
The artist nurtures beauty, pursues perfection, probes the abstract and cherishes magic like the farmer cherishes the rain.
The artist has the vision and the daring; he relies on his eyes and hands.
Yet, he waits for the magic."

"One day I said, "I'll draw no more. Now I want to be a magician." And when I made magic I realized that it was just like drawing."



Copyright by Ciruelo