Kim was the first to spot Raquel Salomon's drawings and when she sent me the link to Raquel's site I immediately contacted her. She is an upcoming young Spanish artist whose folk art depicts allegorical references and personal mythology. She has recently compiled many of her drawings in a book and you can see photos of it here on her blog. She also enjoys photography and has her photos on Flickr. There's a wonderful stillness and contemplative quality to her work that is uniquely Raquel.
Raquel I really like your drawings. When did you first start getting recognition for your art?
I’ve been drawing all my life, for fun. On september 2006 I put a few drawings on Flickr, and in a couple of months I decided to open a store on Etsy to give it a try. When I sold my first drawing a couple of days after I couldn’t believe it! Still today I’m amazed there are people hanging the paintings from my head on their walls. I draw for fun, but in the last year I've been offered some “serious” projects. I feel tremendously happy when people like what I do.
You are in school studying to be a teacher is that right?
Actually, I already have a major in Early Childhood Education. I’m studying Pedagogy at the moment, to be a “better” teacher. I love education and I love kids. I would like to work as a teacher rather than anything else.
Living in Spain it must be easy to travel around Europe. Do you travel often?
I travel all I can, more in Spain than Europe, to say the truth. Being a student is more difficult to get the resources to travel long distances... But I would like to visit a lot of European places: Iceland, Italy, Warsaw, Prague, etc. And of course I would like to visit the U.S. but it's sooo big and there are so many things to see that I’d have to go several times!
I know the food is very good in Spain. What is your favorite Spanish recipe?
Oh yes! I love the food of my country! If I have to choose a recipe I would probably choose the arroz con leche or the paella ...mmm... croquetas de jamón serrano are great too. I don’t know, there are so many! These are simple recipes you can make in any place in the world.
A lot of your drawings are of animals or natural elements like, Learn to Fly, where there is a boy sitting in a large nest. Are you a nature girl or a city girl?
Although I live in the city, I rather prefer being in nature. A lot of my ideas when I draw come from nature. Forests, trees, flowers, animals... are a big source of inspiration for me. I think they are wonderful masterpieces.
What is the inspiration for your art?
I get inspired a lot by other’s work. I love to search on the Internet looking for new artists, ideas, textures, techniques... Books and movies are a great inspiration too. I consume a ridiculously big amount of movies and tv shows (Carnivale, Deadwood, Galactica...) And classic authors like Chejov, Gorki, Virgina Wolf, Goethe, etc.
I notice a fable or fairytale quality to many of your drawings. Have children's stories been a big influence?
Yes, I read a lot of children's and youth literature. I particulary like the Grimm brothers, Andersen and Gorey. I’ve illustrated a lot of stories of them (for myself) like “Bearskin” or “The Snow Queen”. I also love traditional tales (like Russian or African folk tales) and illustrated children's books. They are very rich literary speaking, and feed the imagination and the intelligence of children of all ages.
Tell us a little about your childhood.
I have very happy memories of my childhood. I grew up with my 1 ½ year younger brother so we played a lot together. He taught me how to use the slingshot, I taught him how to comb the dolls. We had a small garden below the house and there used to be cows there, and chickens, and even a donkey! I used to spend most of the day out of the house, playing with branches, stones, flowers... Maybe my love for nature comes from that.
Where in the world would you most like to visit tomorrow?
mmmm... I think I’ll say Iceland. Every time I see some of this wonderful piece of earth on TV I want to take a plane immediately and flight over there to see these amazing landscapes.
Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?
I listen mostly to oldies from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s... I love love love Billie Holiday, she is my favorite singer ever! I also like Bessie Smith, Sonny Boy Williamson, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone... And about more current music: Cat Power, Beirut, Regina Spektor, Neko Case, Logh, Sigur Ros and Clem Snide to name a few.
You write a blog called Forest Eyes and you write in both Spanish and English. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
What I enjoy most is that I can speak of whatever I want whenever I want: books I loved, artists I discover, photographs I’ve taken, etsy favorites... or just show the whole world some little pieces of my personal world. It is very cathartic. It is like a mixed media of communication where you can interact with other people like you.
I'm excited you will be doing the illustrations for a children's poetry collection with Bees Knees Books. Could this be the first book project with more to follow?
Yes, of course! I’m so happy I’m in this project! I’m enjoying it a lot. Thank You so much for considering me to do it, Nancy. You’re doing a great job here.
Thanks Raquel, for taking time on this interview and I'm really looking forward to the poetry project too!