Gastón Caba is an illustrator we discovered on good old twitter. He’s the creator of Churro the rabbit and you probably recognise his work from the excellent Dot Magazine.
1. Hi Gastón, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi Lucy & Patrick. I’m Gastón Caba. I’m from Patagonia, Argentina. Last year I moved with my family to Spain. I love drawing and making comics. A few years back I started giving all my energy to my personal projects, that’s how my character Churro was born and then my first & second book: Churro, el conejo (ed. Edelvives) & Churro y el mago (ed. Mamut Comics). I’m still doing freelance illustration but I’d rather spend my time on my new stuff.
2. What’s your work process like? What materials do you use?
Even if I got the most beautiful notebook I end up drawing on loose paper. I do my sketches with ink with the lovely and not-fancy-at-all Platinum Preppy. Then I do the inking with pencil. I’m in love with the oil based pencil which I use because it’s dark enough and you can get many stroke variations, from rough/textured to fine/detailed. After I do the “inking” I do the colour on the computer. When I get some spare time I also love to try things around so I test different techniques just for fun. Once I even made my own ink and almost made the kitchen blow away heating carbon with oxi-gel.
3. Can you elaborate on making your own inks? How did you do it and what were you thinking?
There was a shortage of good ink in Argentina at that time. I thought that it would be easy to make some. I was very wrong because you need gum arabic and there was also a shortage of that (sure you can use smashed pig bones too). Ashes would dilute easily with water and you can paint a nice grey with that mix but you need to fix it anyway. The difficult part was to dissolve the carbon, I didn’t have a mortar (not even a hammer) so I tried to dissolve it with stuff that I found around the apartment (eg. Coke, cleaning oxi-gel). As it was not working then I put it all inside a tin can and put it on the kitchen fire and that’s when it all blowed away 🙂
I also tried to make watercolours. I tried boiling parsley, red cabbage and camphor leaves in water and I had some nice colours. Camphor leaves did make an awful and toxic vapour (don’t try this at home).
I guess there must be plenty of Youtube tutorials about the subject but at that time I was having fun just testing out things.
4. Do you listen to or watch anything while you work? Podcasts, music, TV?
I do listen to loads of music all day, it’s one of the best things about working at home. This year I’m saving all the new music I like in this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/
5. Tell us about a typical day in the life of Gaston Caba?
I’m up at 8:20 a.m. I take breakfast with my family. I take the girls to school and then back home I start working. I like to draw in the morning so there’s plenty of light and I do it best after a cup of coffee. I work till 5 p.m. and then I go to pick up the girls. We go together to the park and then back home. If I’ve got loads of work I keep working till dinner, or else I read a book. Before dinner I enjoy some time with my daughters. After dinner we always watch one or two movies with my wife.
6. How does being a father impact on your work and creativity? Having kids must be demanding on your time, is it tough to find the space and freedom to work creatively?
Me and my wife are designers and illustrators and it’s true that the girls and the home itself are very demanding (breakfast, laundry, dinner, etc). Chan is very Kondo style and I’m more like a mess, so I’m learning a lot from her. So it’s very important for us to be organised with the time. I guess I’m better that way after being a father, before that I didn’t know how precious my time was. We have so much fun with the girls and kikimuttttttssdddddddddddddddd
7. What would you do on a dream day off?
8. You create a really wide variety of work: editorial, patterns, comics and books – what’s your favourite kind to work on?
I did many prints for T-shirts and clothes. I like that because it’s quick work and then you can see people wearing it, that’s super nice, I guess you know the feeling ;). But I enjoy all the process of doing a book, from the idea, the sketches, binding it all together to check if it works and reworking it. Doing the final artwork is hard, it’s a lot to be done and needs concentration, you spend many hours each day doing the same thing and that helps you to make better artwork each time. My favourite assignment anyway is the double-spread of Churro for each new DOT magazine issue.
9. Whose work are you admiring at the moment? Anyone/thing you want to big up?
10. What are you currently working on? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I’m doing tons of illustrations for preschoolers (+3) for a big publisher in Spain, now doing some overcrowded scenes posters. I’ve got an upcoming comic book in collaboration with Cecilia Pisos (an Argentinian poet) that will be edited this year also by Mamut Comics.