Catalina Estrada’s artwork invites viewers into a world filled with Technicolor flowers, large-eyed fauns, and, as she says, “hearts—lots of hearts.” She adds, “I love drawing nature: plants, leaves, birds, animals.” There’s a dark side to Estrada’s brightness—her many hearts sometimes drip blood. Yet, for the most part, her outlook is sunny and serendipity-friendly. Born in Medellín, Colombia, the illustrator moved to Barcelona in 1999 on a whim. “I was studying in Paris and decided to come to check out Barcelona for a couple of months and maybe take an illustration course,” she explains. “But I ended up studying fine arts and then fell in love with the city.” She also met a photographer there, who’s now her husband, and whom she cites as her chief inspiration. Estrada’s motto, “Everything is going to be all right,” seems appropriate. Her clients are as varied as San Miguel beer and the U.K.’s Computer Arts; the rich, chaotic palette of Barcelona is at her disposal. Everything is coming up roses—and daisies and vines and owls—for this cheerful, color-loving artist.
Where do you usually draw? I usually draw at home. I share a small studio there with my husband—it’s a nice place with lots of light and a beautiful window. If I’m working on paintings and art pieces, I usually do that on the kitchen table. Sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays we both go to a nice café for breakfast, and we bring our stuff and work a bit there. I draw while he reads or studies—that’s also a pretty nice way to work.
Who first taught you to make art, and what do you first remember drawing? I don’t remember someone specific teaching me how to draw, I just remember I always loved when people gave me colored pencils, markers, or paints as a present; and then my parents might have been very encouraging when I showed them what I used to do—my paintings, drawings, collages, and so on. I remember very well that I loved making these beautiful Mother’s Day cards. My brother and I would work on them so much; we really enjoyed it. We used mixed media: We taped real, small flowers on drawings and also burned the edges of the paper so it would look antique. It was a very particular aesthetic, but she loved them, and she used to keep them all in a box like a little treasure.
What do you like about being an illustrator? What do you like least? I love being able to manage my own time and deciding which projects I want to accept or which ones I won’t take. That’s the best for me, to be able to work on what I like and do it in my own way. I don’t like to take care of taxes, invoices, estimates, contracts, and all of that.
Is your work characteristic in some way of Spain or Colombia? Yes, but I guess my work seems very Colombian to me just because it’s greatly influenced and inspired by the memories I have from that place. I also think it has some bits and pieces from Barcelona. It’s easy to get inspired in such a beautiful city. Besides this, I also have to say it looks a bit inspired by all of the many, many countries I have traveled around. I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot during most of my life, and from each place I visit I keep things in my mind, and suddenly, they come out in my work in different ways.
Where would you most like to see your art? I love to see my work in different environments, in different media, different sizes. This is what I enjoy the most—having access to so many different ways to exhibit my work.
If you could collaborate with one other artist, who would it be? I want to collaborate with Pancho Tolchinksy. He’s my favorite photographer, and he happens to be my husband. We’ve been wanting to do something together for quite a long time, but we always get involved in something else. But I’m sure we will do it eventually!