Simon Prades is an illustrator known for his etching technique. His works, especially those that represent nature, can be distinguished by the intricate details and vibrant watercolors. Most of his projects represent social awareness and are endearing to the audience. He is currently studying Graphic Design in Trier, Germany.
Can you tell us about your background as an illustrator? How did you get started?
School felt like a pretty bad place for me, so I spent most of the time drawing and doing sketches there, which kept me from doing even more useless things. I always loved to make pictures that explained something I wasn’t able to write down.
After school I spent my earnings travelling through South America, doing sketches of the places I visited. People showed a lot of interest in these sketches, mostly done with ink and watercolor, and seemed to like them, so I decided to learn how to draw.
I am studying graphic design now in Trier, Germany with a main focus on Illustration and book design. Etching and the art of printmaking became also very important to me, in the last two years. So basically, I am still getting started.
Do you consider anyone as your mentor or inspiration as an illustrator?
There are a lot of contemporary illustrators like Lars Henkel, David Hughes, David Foldvari or Sterling Hundley, who I really adore. But if it comes to inspiration or mentors of mine I would rather name Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya or Horst Janssen. The distance between me and them (which comes from the fact that they are all dead and lived in quite different times) makes it easier for me to study them. I love to analyze the way they composed their drawings and etchings and also how they adapted their mentors and developed their own style.
Literature is a big source of inspiration for me too. I love to read Heinrich Böll, Lion Feuchtwanger, John Steinbeck or Henry Miller and also biographies of artists and writers.
Can you tell us more about the technique of etching? What is it and why do you use this technique?
Basically it is a form of printmaking, using an engraved metal plate to reproduce a drawing. Chemicals, mainly the acid, help you to engrave the drawing into the metal, which later prints the ink into paper. As handcrafting was always a passion for me and this one combined with drawing, it felt right from the beginning.
The fact that you can experiment a lot with the materials and develop your own way of using them is very interesting too. There is something very special about original prints, with the inked line coming slightly out of the paper and the nice grey tones and structures – it has a visual expression that most people aren’t used to anymore. And using the same method of printmaking Rembrandt, Leyen and Goya used hundreds of years ago is a bit of a weird, romantic thing for me, I guess.
What elements do you consider most important in creating your illustrations?
Time to let a project come to existence is very important. Good coffee too. A certain mixture of seriousness and taking things easy is a pretty good combination for me. Oh, and people, who tell you what they think about your work, even if it’s uncomfortable, are very important.
In your experience, were there moments that you have struggled or had difficulty in coming up with a concept? If there are, how did you overcome/cope?
Well, I guess struggling and having doubts about a project or a concept is normal or even important for me. The failures you experience are an essential part of your artistic development. If there are no questions or ups and downs in the process of creating something, the result won’t be good – at least that’s what I believe. Most works I really like now have been a pain in the ass at one point or another!