Pablo Pintachan is an international graphic and character illustrator from Spain. He is known for creating lively, whimsical, and colorful artworks with a retro appeal.
“… It has taken me many years to even think about having a manageable workday and now I am aware of the importance it has…“
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Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I’m Pablo, aka Pintachan.
I’ve been a full-time illustrator for over ten years. I was born and raised in sunny Seville, in the south of Spain. After spending time in Madrid and Barcelona, now I live in a small town in Northern Spain, with my two kids and my wife.
In the early 2000’s I co-founded a small business to sell t-shirts, badges, and that sort of stuff. As we didn’t have money to hire an illustrator, I decided to take on the job myself. It’s been almost 15 years since and, though I still take care of some t-shirt designs, my work has followed different paths.
A random, not illustration-related fact about me is that, besides my actual work, I play in a band that is quite big here in Spain. It’s called La Casa Azul and it’s a very fun part of my life.
What inspired you to make art?
I think it all started when I was still a kid, and my father used to take me to bookshops with him.
While he searched for large Architecture books, he left me “parked” at the children’s book section. I always chose to bring home some tale books, which I still keep and are still a source of my inspiration.
I learned to count a long time ago but I still flick through Best counting book ever by Richard Scarry very often! 🙂
Did you study at art school(s) or are you self-taught? What did you study? What were the “aha” moments? What did you find the most beneficial?
When I finished high school, I decided to take a college degree in Biology.
My experience as an intern left a trail of explosions and toxic-vapor-induced faints, so that was a sign that I had chosen the wrong career. After that, I decided to switch from test tubes to colors and I think it all went much better. If I had stayed there mankind could have already reached its end!
Regarding illustration, I’m mostly self-taught.
I really don’t know if there has been an “aha” moment for me.
Sometimes I think that I did not decide to be an illustrator, it just happened naturally. I’m not really a people person so the idea of having a career that allows me to be on my own a lot of time makes sense to me.
How did you develop your own art style? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you keep your creativity flowing?
My illustrations arise from stuff that I love, but also from the ones I hate, things I collect, places I have been… it is all connected as my whole life experience.
Music inspires a lot of my work. Reviewing my old illustrations I could almost say which record I was listening to while doing them. I love doo-wop, psych-pop, brill building, 70s disco, 50s rock’n’roll, Motown, Jpop… To name a few artists: Bobby Vee, The Beach Boys, The Cowsills, Frankie Valli, Leslie Gore, Petula Clark, Pizzicato Five, The Go Team, Sha-Na-Na, The Archies…
SciFi and B-series horror movies from the 50s are also a big inspiration. I have a big movie collection. Though I find nouvelle vague films very evocative. Agnès Varda is my favorite, I’m a big fan of her films and persona.
My trip to Japan has also been a big influence. Thanks to the month I spent there, I started paying attention to Japanese children’s books authors, such as Taro Gomi, Taro Miura, and Tatsuya Miyanshi. I think my job also reminisces about the kaiju aesthetics.
Record covers, magazines, and books from the 50s and 60s are also a big part of the image library I constantly look up for inspiration.
Classic 50s illustrators, those who made such amazing backgrounds for Disney movies, and Hanna-Barbera designs are also a big influence for me.
Thanks to my kids (I have two small children) I’m really up to date about cartoons. These days we love to watch Adventure Time together, it’s a fascinating series, very colorful and fun, with aesthetics that get to be naïve and acid at the same time. I like to think we share the same spirit and that definitely inspires me.
How did you start making a living as an artist? What was your first paid art job?
While I was running my t-shirt company, people started approaching me for commissioned work.
At some point, I realized that maybe being an artist would be a better way to make a living for me, that it would make me happier.
I think my first paid job was a poster for a film festival, but the moment I thought maybe I could work as a full-time illustrator was when an advertising agency from Los Angeles contacted me to illustrate 4 magazine covers.
At that time, I didn’t even know how much I should charge for that job, it was really stressful, but without a doubt, it was an important moment in my career.
Actually, maybe that was my “aha” moment!
What do you live from as an artist now? What are your main income streams and what is the approximate % split of each?
I would like to say otherwise but, the truth is, right now commissioned work represents 95% of my income as an illustrator.
We are working at the studio to change substantially in the coming months so we can have a more balanced workflow.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on the first of an eight-book series for children, two board games, and another book series about sustainability.
Besides that, my team is working on our new project website, “The Pencil Council” where we’ll be sharing what I think would be helpful resources for those who make illustrations for a living.
What do you think are the most important characteristics of an artist?
I think one of the most important things is to have your own identity as an artist.
It is something that takes time to achieve but once you have it, your work becomes much more pleasant.
Knowing how to organize your working hours is also something that seems very relevant to me.
Illustrators spend a lot of time in front of a screen, alone, immersed in their world, and sometimes it is difficult to know when to stop to rest, to know how many jobs you can do at the same time, or to know what to prioritize at all times.
It has taken me many years to even think about having a manageable workday and now I am aware of the importance it has.
What are the art tools and other products and services you can’t live without?
My process is quite simple so the tools I use are too.
The first thing I do is shape the initial idea in my head. From there I start by sketching with pencil on paper. This part of the process is very important to me: I do a lot of sketches before starting the digital process, and most of the time, the resulting illustration includes fragments of many different sketches. So I would say Paper and pencil are things I can’t live without.
Once the sketches are digitized, I use them as a template in Illustrator, add a basic color palette and define everything more or less. At that point, I used to move on to Photoshop to work on extra textures and outlines but for a while, I’ve been doing the whole process in Illustrator.
Now it is easier to find brushes and textures for Illustrator than it used to be and many clients prefer to have vector final arts.
What are your favorite art and other books (fiction, non-fiction)?
I really love children´s books and I have a very large collection at the studio. Richard Scarry, Miroslav Sasek, Alice Provensen, and Lois Ehlert are some of my favorite authors.
I find the “Drawn to life” books by Walt Stanchfield so helpful for character design, they are a must-have for me.
More recently I’ve discovered the “How to think when you draw” series by The Etherington Brothers where you can find so many resources for illustrators, love them too.
What advice would you give yourself as a beginner artist? Or alternatively please include your favorite quote and the author.
There are many things that I would say to the Pintachan of 10 years ago but I think there are two that I think can be useful to any illustrator.
- Always find time to do self-initiated work. It is the best way to grow your portfolio showing the type of projects that you would like your potential clients to commission you.
- Whichever point you are in your career, don’t forget that promoting your own work is important. Whether you have an agent or not, a large part of your clients will come to you thanks to your self-promotion.
Get in touch with Pablo
Thank you, Pablo, for joining us today!
All artworks by Pablo Pintachan, used with permission.
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