Ana Sainz Quesada, a brilliant future for illustration in Spain

  • Culture

Ana Sainz Quesada, a brilliant future for illustration in Spain

Ana Sainz, winner of the International FNAC-Salamandra Graphic Award.
Ana Sainz, winner of the International FNAC-Salamandra Graphic Award.

In spite of your young age, you have had an interesting career. Which comic strips did you first read?

I have been surrounded by comics ever since I can remember. My father opened a bookshop specialising in comics (in fact it was the first in Palma de Mallorca). As a little girl, I read Captain Trueno and Tintin, as well as Corto Maltese and things by Bourgeon. In my pre-teenager years, I went through a Japanese Manga Comic phase. At the age of 14, I discovered ‘Persépolis’ by Marjane Satrapi, and ‘Maus’, by Art Spiegelman. These two works made me understand comics from a different perspective than before.  

Who were your first favourite national and international illustrators and who do you follow today?  

I grew up reading the tales of Beatrix Potter. I also loved Maurice Sendak (‘Dídola Pídola Pon’ was one of my favourite books), Bill Watterson, Charles M. Schulz, Quino… Due to proximity, I also admired the illustrations by Max or Pere Joan, although I didn’t understand them then. Nowadays, I follow many national illustrators: Carmen Segovia, Sonia Pulido, Arnal Ballester, El Roto, Isidro Ferrer… In Spain, we are lucky to have first class professionals.  Other illustrators I like include Marione Fayolle, Simone Rea, Yuko Shimizu… extremely diverse styles, but all of high quality.  

How would you describe yourself as an illustrator?

Right now, I am like a sponge. I absorb everything that surrounds me. I love experimenting in accordance with the focus I want to give a project. What I want to convey through my drawings also varies depending on what is being told, although this involves my own vision of the reality.  

On your website you are satirical about those who classify your work as an illustrator as “doodling”… or those who directly question whether drawing is a job. Have you faced many people like this in your professional career?  

Luckily, I haven’t. When I was younger, I had some difficulty getting my family to accept that I wanted to specialise in drawing, but they soon came to understand it and have always supported me.  The same occurs with my friends.  On the other hand, I don’t think that the work as an illustrator is duly recognised in Spain, although this gradually seems to be changing.

Your ‘Intimidades’ series led to an exhibition at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Germany. Would you like to continue exhibiting in the future?

I would love to. In fact, the series isn’t finished yet. It is a project on which I am still working with the aim of seeing it hanging on a white wall one day. This exhibition gave me a lot of confidence in my work. I sold all of the pieces to various collectors, which made me feel both valued and proud.

-You say that your ‘Tern(e)uras’ stories always take place in a nearby location, where neurosis is the daily bread. Do you base your work more on real and everyday experiences than on fantasy?  Or do you try to combine both worlds

I’d say the latter. I like to base myself on real experiences and particularly on my own, as that is what makes them unique. Although I also love to lose myself from time to time and give free reign to the sub conscience.

- You won the 8th International FNAC-Salamandra Graphic Award 2014 for ‘Chucrut’, a comic which will be published in November this year. Were you surprised to win such an award?

Yes, very much so.  I began working on ‘Chucrut’ at the beginning of last summer as a result of a final project that I had to present for the Master’s Degree that I was studying at the European Design Institute. It is a story about which I’d rather not give too many details, but I had wanted to tell it for some time.   I took advantage to turn something “compulsory” into a personal project. I was seriously questioning whether to enter it for the competition, but I think that it is important to move your work if you believe in it as it is difficult for someone to come and look for you.  I’m glad I did.

It has been one of the sources of happiness in my life. It is the first prize I have won and I value the opportunity to be able to see my work in a bookshop. My first graphic novel published!

You also desktop published the fanzine ‘Refranes Intraducibles’, a book of Catalan-Spanish sayings in which your drawings illustrated the different meanings of the sayings on translating them. Would you repeat something like this in the future?  

Of course I would. The world of desktop publishing is fascinating. It is a good alternative to traditional publishing methods.   There is an entire universe of really good cartoonists who use this option for their work.  

You are currently working with the writer, Fernando Savater, on an illustrated book for Random House. What is it about?

I have been working on it since last year. In the book, each chapter talks about the life and works of a writer: from Leopardi to Goethe, and from Valle-Inclán to Agatha Christie. I am learning a lot from Fernando, and I appreciate the trust he has placed in me.

What are your plans for the immediate future?

For the moment I have (hard) work until summer. I am not considering any other projects until I have finished ‘Chucrut’ and the book with Fernando Savater. I will continue with ‘Tern(e)uras’ and other personal projects, such as ‘Intimidades’. But the future looks promising and I am open to whatever comes up. If it doesn’t come along, I will go out and look for it.