Friday, 5 July 2013

Laia Pampalona

It's Follow Friday!

Barcelona-born artist Laia Pampalona, also known as Matilda, named herself artistically after Roald Dahl’s famous character, both mischievous and shrewd. Matilda’s paintings are always daring, uninhibited, juvenile and unframed, must be evidence of her “underground” early years as a graffiti artist, yet the appearance of warm tones and accurate strokes refine the rebellion always evoked. It goes without saying that this chromatic environment leads the author to convey a sense of unconstrained fun that represents her passion for her job, showcasing an explosion of contrasts end textures. The exact touch of acrylic on each stroke and the accuracy of the curved shapes, suggest a talent and a delicacy that confirms the achievement of maturity in the development of a very own style that will not leave anyone indifferent. And it is precisely here where the charm of this exhibition lies: on the revelation of Matilda as a poignant and rebellious artist already established who, by means of the combination and harmonization of her wide colour palette, has smoothly turned the spray paint into a fine and precise brush. 

Laia Pampalona is a graphic designer and artist from Barcelona, Spain. She created her own brand Matilda in 2005. Her illustrations can be seen on iPhone and iPad cases, pins, T-shirts, children's books, painted on canvas... . In her own studio, Laia also applies her unique style to design graphic projects both for individuals and companies. Currently, Laia Pampalona exhibits in Spain and Europe, being her artwork part of the urban art. The faces, flowers and landscapes revealed on the canvas, evoke an illusory and colourful world, where refined hues provide with extreme delicacy the painter's style. From 2005 to 2009 Laia Pampalona headed an art gallery, the Graffity Shop & gallery of Barcelona, where she organised exhibitions, art workshops, talks, etc. This is when her artistic career began; now she works to order.

You can follow Laia on Facebook, Pinterest & twitter @laiapamalona. You can also see what Laia is up to on her blog.

Have you always wanted to be a graphic designer & illustrator?

Since I was at school, I always knew that I would be working in some artistic job, say an art curator, a children's books illustrator or some kind of art writer such as an adventurous journalist. So, I decided to become a graphic designer and studied for 4 years at the university. I loved what I leraned there! Integrating art and a computer, drawing by hand or at the screen opened a new world in front of me. Studying typography and calligraphy, packaging and doing page layout was formidable! I couldn't wait to finish my degree and work on my own Studio. But it didn't happen like this. First of all, I worked for several graphic design studios where I could learn more about this profession. It was great but during all those years working as a graphic designer, I never used a pencil or brush anymore. I was in my early twenties and I thought I had to quit working and start studying again. This time I decided to study illustration. But after 3 months attending the art school to learn or practise how to draw a vase and a chair for several times, I decided to quit! It was easier than I thought, so I thought that I didn't need to take classes. So, I started on my own, painting canvases with ink and acrylic. I really enjoyed it and I opened a graffiti gallery and graphic design studio in my city. There I became the art curator and I ran the gallery for almost 5 years. I liked it a lot because I organized art exhibitions, workshops and also worked hard as a graphic designer. I thought it could never end, but economic crisis was hitting and I had no choice but to start again from the beginning. So I dedicated all my time to improving my drawing skills and I finally became a graphic designer and illustrator.

Which do you prefer or do you love them both the same?

For me, graphic design is my profession and illustration is my passion. So, if I combine both, the result is a creative and functional design and my clients appreciate the difference between an original style and a free template that you could find on the internet.

What's your next step?

My next project is to live abroad and open a new art gallery.

The difficult thing about it is to decide where to go! There are a lot of nice places where I would like to end up living, say Haarlem (NL), where I have already lived in 2010; London, where everything is possible; Berlin, where underground culture is growing; San Francisco, where the sun shines all day long, etc. Wherever it takes me, I will be so delighted!

What motivates you?

What motivates me is to know that there are still some people who like to enjoy art and culture as a way of life.

How do you start a new project/design?

When I start a new project, the first thing I do is define the concept and determine its goal and its target. The most entertaining part of the process is to draw all the sketches until I find the right one that matches with the concept. When I get it, then everything runs as a waterfall!

What do you enjoy most about design/illustration?

What I really enjoy about design and illustration is once I have determined what the client requires and I have understood it, the design process is only between me and the blank paper that's over my table. So during this period of time, a few days or some weeks, I get a love relationship with what I'm creating! :)

Do you have a favourite design/illustration that you have created?

My favourite illustration is the one concerning my character Matilda. All about Matilda is all about me.

Some orders that I have demand Matilda's style drawings, and they are those ones I enjoy most because I'm free to do what I want because the client trusts in what I do. And Matilda's style fits in a lot of projects because its spirit is rebel and modern and very expressive.

Matilda's style is a way of life. My manifesto is: " it's never too late to be a rock star", so it means that although you were a strict mother family taking care of your good boys, you can always dream about singing on a stage with lights on your face and people really seeing you as a rock star. It's Matilda who does it for you,

What is your typical day like?

The first think I do when I arrive at my studio is to fill up my big mug with Arabic coffee and then I turn on my computer to check my e-mails. When my cup is empty and all the mails have been answered, I'm able to focus on the drawing or design project I am doing.
I prefer working early in the morning until lunch time (in Spain lunch time is around 2 PM), it's when I'm more productive and creative.

What I really hate is to combine my passion with the fact that I have also to control my financial situation and have to call my solicitor to know if all the invoices have been paid!

In the evenings I like to visit some art exhibitions to get inspired.

What medias do you like to use?

I draw with pencil, and when I think that the illustration is finished, I use a thin black market to retrace it. Then I scan it and start to work with the Photoshop program erasing parts that I dislike and cleaning the background, then I proceed working with the Illustrator program, where I convert this jpg drawing into a vector illustration. This is the part I like most because I touch the lines, choose the colours, etc.. After that, I combine it with typography to design a logotype, label, packaging, etc.

Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?

My family and friends consider my passion for art my job, so they understand what it means to me.
But there are some people who always ask me what is exactly what I'm doing in my own studio. They think that drawing and painting is not a real job, that it is only a hobby. Those ones are that ones who order me illustrations for free! OMG!

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

I would like to run my own art gallery and publish my own art magazine.

Do you have a favourite illustrator, designer etc?

I know several good artists and designers.
Actually, those who really inspire me are: FLOR PANICHELLI from London, with her "Sweet bestiary"; the French comic writer Margaux Motin, and Lili Scratchy with her fantasy illustrations drawn in her sketchbooks.

Favourite design book?

My favourite book that helped me in my personal way to run my freelance studio has been “Creative, INC. The ultimate Running a Successful Freelance Business” by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Deangdeelert Cho, by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

Thank you for your time Laia, I really appreciate it. If you'd like  feature & interview on this blog, then please email me at:

*All images courtesy to Laia Pampalona 

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