Today's Daily Illustrator is Luis Mendo, an artist, or perhaps a tradesman as he believes we should be referred to, who started his career in Spain, 1994. Since then, Luis has travelled to The Netherlands and as of late, to Japan. In these years he has created dozens of magazine titles, identities and publications on and offline, regularly giving lectures, advice and workshops on design, magazine-making and creativity issues. Read on for Luis' very in formative interview and be sure to click through to find out more about the artist and the practitioners he recommends you check out.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?
As I was a designer and art director for many years (before becoming an illustrator), I often made illustrations for the magazines I designed. Sometimes I just needed something quick to solve a difficult page and it was the easiest to do it myself instead of going through selecting/briefing illustrators.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?
In everything, but mainly around me. In Tokyo there’s so much to look at and get inspired. From the way an old woman sweeps her front door in my neighbourhood, to an old book in a second hand bookshop in Jinbochō and on the handwritten kanji on the wall of the izakaya where I go drinking with friends at night. It’s my luck and privilege to live in a country where drawing, penmanship and art are highly regarded. I always get chatty waiters at the cafes where I go as soon as I start drawing on my sketchbook. People here love to see you drawing.
HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?
From the story, the concept or the world the client wants me to recreate. I regard illustration as a trade, not an art. We are at the service of the story that is being told. If we were shoemakers, you don’t want your client to walk away with painful (but surely very beautiful) shoes, but rather having him so happy with the comfortable shoes that he doesn’t want to wear any other pair.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?
Anything really. I jump constantly from techniques and tools: love my Pilot Parallel pens (which are actually calligraphy pens) for being fast in changing the line thickness and able to take virtually any ink I inject in their cartridges. I love my Cintiq and change all the time between Manga Studio (also called Clip Studio) and Photoshop. But then also enjoy drawing on the iPad Pro while watching a movie on the couch. I always carry with me my sketchbook and normally will draw shadows with a brush pen and finish it with inks from the Parallel or a cheap and old – but very reliable – Inoxcrom fountain pen I found covered in dust in an antique shop in Spain.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
This week has been nuts: Just finished 70 portraits of speakers of the last C2 Montreal congress, I drew my weekly travel section of the Dutch Volkskrant Magazine weekly, which will come out in 2 weeks, also did some sketches for the next cover of チャイムGinza which comes out every month, then some stickers for Sony, little drawings for Japan’s best stationary brand Winged Wheel and adding the final touches to a magazine I art directed for a Japanese beach wear brand.
CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?
I just follow people with better taste than mine on Mixcloud. Follow me there as I always repost things I like. Also, I love to play old movies I have seen too many times and have them as background noise, no need to look at the images, just having me transported to the movie’s world is what gets me in the flow to work.
ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?
So many… where to start? Of course my friend Adrian Hogan who is super talented and a great person. I really like Tatsuro Kiuchi which I think is already very famous but ok. I admire Lauren Tamaki’s line and feeling for colour. The witty humour of Hama House, the insanity of Sam Vanallemeersch’s drawings, the clean line of my friends Andrew Joyce and David Robert, the colours of Grace Lee and Fern Choonet, the fantastic space recreations of Tatsushi Eto… As I said, so many…