Ignacia Ruiz was born near the Andes but has chosen London as her home. Since graduation from her degree she’s had a packed schedule, featuring in numerous exhibitions but happily finding time to produce some artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion too.
What has prompted your lifelong obsession with greenhouses and plants in general?
I think it started with the very first place I lived in. There was a small greenhouse in the centre of the house and I can remember being about 4 years old and going in to water plants with my mum. It always seemed like the most magical place! I think that has remained my impression ever since. Being from the city and surrounded mostly by buildings has made me see plants and greenery as a precious thing.
You love to sketch on location – how did you set about capturing the hothouse atmosphere of the greenhouse?
For me it was getting the mix of the delicate architecture of the steel frame and glass against the organic structural shapes of the plants themselves. The tropical heat of the greenhouse hopefully comes across on the vivid colours of the plants in the drawings!
What was the best bit about growing up in Santiago de Chile?
Weirdly enough I think it was probably the topography of it. You can drive from the city to the seaside in an hour to have a swim and later drive up the snowy mountains all in the same day. The variety of landscapes is lovely. My favourite thing in Santiago is seeing the Andes mountains at sunset. The snow turns red and orange and you can see the beauty of them in stark contrast with the glass and steel of the buildings.
Why did you pick London for your study?
Initially I was only coming to London for maybe a year, but a lot happened in that time and I felt like it was the right place for me. I then applied to do the Graphic Design and Illustration BA at Central Saint Martins and got offered a place. That’s when I decided I wanted to stay here and try to develop my career. It’s been going well ever since!
How do you translate your location sketches into finished works of art and what is the process?
My sketches are usually very fast and loose, so I like to have finished work that retains some of that quality. I have found that with print methods like linocut and woodcut I can emulate the drawing pen with the chisel. I guess it’s the same idea, just a different tool. I love playing with negative space and the bold flat colour you get with relief printing. I also like the imperfections of the print that relate to the initial rough sketch. I’m not a perfectionist printmaker at all!
I believe you’ve just completed a residency in Italy – can you tell us more about this?
Yes, I was very lucky to have been asked by the print studio Opificio della Rosa to come and work in an artist book. I decided to make a reportage project of the area the studio is located in, the Conca Valley. I travelled around with my sketchbook documenting the people and places I encountered. Later I returned to the studio to turn the drawings into woodcuts. It is an ongoing project that will be finished and published in 2016.
How did you get the commission to illustrate a Penguin book and what was the process of producing your final artwork?
One of Penguin‘s art editors came to our second year illustration exhibition and liked some of the work I was exhibiting. We kept in touch until finally she said she had a project that would suit my work. It was a book about the planning and logistics of the Crusades. I was so excited, especially since all the research consisted in looking at beautiful period illuminations and films depicting the Crusades. The artwork went through several roughs before it was approved by Penguin and was finally rendered in a woodcut style with thick black outline and very little colour.
Can you tell us more about the recent exhibitions you have taken part in?
There has been a few this year apart from my degree show. I had a piece in the AOI’s Places and Spaces exhibition at the London Transport Museum, I did a cover for Alice in Wonderland which was featured at the YCN Student Awards at the Barbican Centre, I had a project about depicting boxers training in a gym in Islington featured in the Reportager Award at the UWE in Bristol and my City linocuts series appeared at the Cheltenham Illustration Awards. It’s been a busy year!
What next, will you stay in London and if so why?
I have some commissions and teaching jobs on at the moment so London feels like the right place to be. We shall see what the future brings!
You will be able to own your very own copy of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring the work of Ignacia and many others… just make sure you grab your book once my Kickstarter campaign launches in a few weeks time.
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