Diverse, political, irreverent, sensitive, and love of pain of everything are the illustrations by María Jesús Contreras. Contreras currently lives and works in Santiago de Chile, but grew up in Temuco, a small city in southern Chile, her family has always been dedicated to the field, her father a farmer, and her mother an agronomist, Contreras spent her childhood watching 90s movies, and those memories of watching movies like Space Jam, The Parent Trap, Matilda and the original Jumanji often inspire her current satirical, psychedelic, humorous, nostalgic, and saturated illustrations.
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LOS GATOS: Can you walk us through your process?
MARÍA JESÚS CONTRERAS: Many times during my "work day" I would secretly draw on my computer, pretending to work, but when I'm not in the office I prefer to draw on paper. I work in stages mostly, sometimes I would create a collage of found images as a starting point and use that as reference, or take photos on my phone and combine them with other photos and that would be another starting point. There isn't necessarily an order that I follow when I create my illustrations, but I'm always in a hurry to get my thoughts out as quick as possible, I feel there is a sense of honesty in that because it doesn't go through logical reasoning.
GATOS: How does commercial art creation differ from your personal art?
CONTRERAS: Almost everything I have on my instagram is my personal art, sometimes I share what I do as collaborations with others, I enjoy doing both, doing something for someone else is pleasant sometimes, since spending a lot of time with yourself and your own thoughts and ideas can sometimes be very self-absorbing.
GATOS: Your illustrations come off as humorous and diverting, would you say that your art reflects your personality?
CONTRERAS: Thank you, I'm not really a very funny person, I have a very dark view on things, and to cope with that and to cope with that I use a lot of color and energy. Truthfully, I've been looking for my personality my entire life, I think that making art has shaped my personality for me, the truth is that still many times I feel lost and I don't understand myself.
GATOS: Do you agree that the essence of art should be fun and light-hearted?
CONTRERAS: It seems to me that artistic manifestations must be what they want. In my case, I only like to connect with the emotions of some people, it makes the truth feel less alone. Life is sometimes political, and art is part of life, and when one feels moved by a political event this manifests itself in the work, it is a natural process.
GATOS: What are some things that inspire you to make your illustrations?
CONTRERAS: Animals, everyday objects and facial expressions.
All images courtesy the artist.