Nicolas Navarro Rueda is a genius-fashion-illustrator based in Germany. Nicolas experiments with shape and colour, creating fluidity through structure and detail. His silouhettes are alive, just waiting for the opportunity to walk out this sheet of paper. A permanent fight between light and darkness is found in his work.
KALTBLUT: Hi Nicolas. How did you come to illustration?
Nicolas: Since I was a child, I really enjoyed colours and shapes, which I have to thank my father for, since he introduced me to art and culture. I didn’t really want to pursue it until a friend of mine, at school, told me I should definitely try it out, and I did. It felt right, so I’ve never really stopped since.
KALTBLUT: You do such a great job. When did you start to be interested in fashion? And when did you start to illustrate it?
Nicolas: Thank you very much, I try to work very hard! My interest started when I was very young. I remember my father sketching out pantsuits and dresses for my grandmother and mother to be made by their tailor. I also remember sketching out little dresses, which I would cut out of paper and I would stick them in books. I also grew up surrounded by girls, and girls enjoy dressing up so that sort of built me up as a designer. My interest in fashion was very awake from an early stage.
KALTBLUT: Who are your favourite designers and why?
Nicolas: Cristóbal Balenciaga is my all time favourite. His cut, his silhouettes, his imagination. He was a true master. From the much current faces in fashion, Nicolas Ghesquière is my idol, his aesthetic is fantastic, he is always reinventing his designs and he is a visionary in motion. I also live for Yohji Yamamoto. He works with beautiful concepts and tailoring and he has an easiness to his designs, it’s just admirable. Stefano Pilati is also a very big influence, he delivers emotion, which I find very appealing.
KALTBLUT: Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process when starting an illustration? How long does it take to complete a drawing?
Nicolas: I always start thinking about colour and how it can translate something, I do a lot of research, especially if I am illustrating other designers’ work. I am a very rough and careless draftsman, I just fill in the blanks and details with colour. I was taught to always put everything where it belongs: “The lights in the light and the darks in the dark”, it’s very basic and not very exciting. I can take from 40 minutes up to an hour working on detailed work, especially if I use watercolour, but when it comes to runway illustrations I like picking up the most important characteristics of a design and I run with it.
KALTBLUT: Are you a slow and careful or quick and speedy draftsman?
Nicolas: I am quick, or I try to be. And I am very careful. I am my worst critic, so I tend to dismiss something if it does not deliver.
KALTBLUT: I like the way you use colours in your illustrations. What is your approach to colour? Do you follow a colour scheme or just follow your instincts?
Nicolas: Colour is very important to me. I read a lot about it, studying Henri Matisse, and connected with his theories, of colours that shouldn’t work together. There is always an element of surprise when you are mixing things without thinking. I enjoy giving my illustrations green noses even though green is not my favourite and noses are a character giving quality, but I neglect this by uniformly adding this recurring idea. A scheme could be the neutral backgrounds contrasted with full colour outbursts, but I like to think of it more as matter of instinct than scheme.
KALTBLUT: Do you have a preferred medium?
Nicolas: I do work a lot with oil based pastels and watercolour, but this changes with time. I used to be a very linear and clean illustrator, especially when I am in a designer phase.
KALTBLUT: Do you keep a sketchbook?
Nicolas: Yes I do, I have a series of books filled with sketches. I never leave the house without a sketchbook. It’s sort of a private diary of inspiration and references to anything and everything.
KALTBLUT: Who is inspiring you these days?
Nicolas: Aleandr Rodchenko’s photography, Kenzo Tange, structuralism and pre-columbian cultures. I am working on a collection inspired on that.
KALTBLUT: What would be your ideal commission?
Nicolas: Collaborative work with artists and/or designers. I enjoy mashing up ideas contrasting with a clear finished product.
KALTBLUT: You are from Colombia. Why did you move to Germany?
Nicolas: Germany is sort of my second home. I found my “true self” here eleven years ago and thanks to luck and given opportunities I was able to come back.
KALTBLUT: Any exciting project coming up?
Nicolas: I’ve been working, for a while, on small-scale projects in both international and national spheres. I do hope to compete them very soon. Fingers-crossed.