Antonio Ladrillo is the pen name of illustrator and art director Antonio González who is based in Valencia, Spain. We recently became obsessed with his work through his wonderful books and decided we needed to know more with an interview.
1. Hi Antonio, tell us a bit about yourself
Hi! My name is Antonio and I am the second in a family of 5 siblings. I have always felt a great interest in form, color, and space. Interest that has been maintained uninterruptedly over the years, gradually maturing through different activities. About 10 years ago I managed to finish my first illustrated book ‘¡Oh! ¡Un zigzag!’ And since then I’ve dedicated part of my time to this activity.
2. What’s your work process like? What materials do you use?
What I like the most—if the project allows it—is to start working as indefinitely and as inaccurately as possible, trying to avoid to have a previous result in mind that it supposes to be achieved beforehand. A word, a color, a situation, is all I need to start. The rest I hope to find it during the process.
For example, when I started working on my third book ‘Being a ghost is cool‘ I had been thinking about the idea of opposites for a long time: day/night, full/empty, near/far, etc…These reflections are the basis of ‘Being a ghost is cool’ a black and white book, in which I tell the day (our night) of a ghost.
3. Do you listen to or watch anything while you work? Podcasts, music, TV?
I like to listen to interviews to writers, philosophers or artists. I follow YouTube channels about philosophy, criticism, and aesthetics. I also listen to music and on many occasions, I try to be silent.
4. Tell us about a typical day in your working life
I don’t distinguish so much between labor and non-labor. There is always some murmur in my head. Everything is there, waiting. One must remain open and constantly attentive.
5. How do you balance working as a teacher and your own illustration practice?
Well, my work as a teacher is punctual, so it doesn’t require— except at specific times—a very significant restructuring of my time. Being able to share the knowledge that one has acquired—and see how it is used and reinterpreted—is a very rewarding experience.
6. We think you’re based in Barcelona? Where would you take us on a day out? Any unmissable hotspots?
No, not anymore! I was, but I currently live and work in Valencia. Valencia is a city with a wonderful and special light. A quiet and manageable city. Something that I value a lot in my daily life. I would like to go with you to Ostras Pedrín, one of my favourite bars in the city. We could take vermouth, some oysters or whatever comes up. It’s all great!!
7. Do you have any advice for someone who would like to get into illustrating books?
I would love to be able to give advice as empty of meaning as possible, but I guess that this is not possible. I do not believe that to advise someone—no matter how good your intention will be—is something good or enlightening. From my point of view, the beginnings must be imprecise and unexpected. They must represent the opportunity of the intimate encounter with oneself in relation to the activity to be carried out: the possibility of accessing, deepening or generating new thoughts. Indicating or advising the way to do it would suppose inevitably a modification and, in so many cases the destruction of what could have been.
8. Whose work are you admiring at the moment? Anyone/thing you want to big up?
There are constantly infinite attitudes, thoughts and situations that capture my interest and my attention. On the one hand, we would have everything that belongs to the field of the ‘unknown by me’ situations that by their novel nature manage to keep my interest. On the other hand, everything that belongs to the field of the ‘known to me’ situations of an inexhaustible, infinite character, situations that even returning again and again on them, maintain unattainable aspects.
I am currently very interested in sculpture and its results on a formal and intellectual level, so I spend a lot of time studying it. [See Antonio’s personal tumblr of sculpture and painting inspiration here]
9. What are you currently working on? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
Lately, I have been working on the design of a mascot for the Master in Professional Illustration (Valencia), in which I teach. They commissioned me for developing this funny character that represents the empty space. Mascots are so playable because they end applied in so many things, and I love to see my characters turned into phone stickers, pins, or tote bags, hahaha.