The works of Spanish artist Irma Gruenholz are nothing if not unique: combining three-dimensional clay modelling with digital manipulation, she crafts illustrations in a most intelligent and complex manner -delivering final pieces that are soft, endearing and incredibly thoughtful. The former art director, who has left the field of advertising to pursue her freelance career, talks about her creative process, her drive to find her own language, and the excitement that sculpture brings her.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic background…
Ever since I was a child, I have felt a special attraction to three-dimensional objects and miniatures.
I’d spend hours and hours playing with clay. I would write stories and then model the characters. Making three-dimensional illustration was always natural to me; something I’ve always done. It’s been a matter of thinking about the roles of these sculptures, how I want to convey such roles, and also finding my own language.
What do you most enjoy about hand-sculpted illustration?
I love working with my hands and touching the materials. The creative process is more organic; it’s where chance and spontaneity play an important role. Working in 3D makes it possible for me to incorporate all kinds of materials – depending on the piece, of course. The creative
I prefer to dive into the illustration, working directly in three dimensions as soon as I have a clear idea in mind.” process is very exciting; I love exploring the possibilities of each project and experimenting with new solutions and textures.
What is your creative process?
The process varies greatly depending on whether it the project is an ad, a book, an article… but I can summarise it with the following basic steps:
I read the brief or text carefully, and emphasise what I consider most important. I then look for documentation on the subject, gather all the information I can about it, and start to develop concepts.
I do not draw sketches in detail;
I prefer to dive into the illustration, working directly in three dimensions as soon as I have a clear idea in mind. My sketches are very schematic drawings that help me direct the illustration, and specify the materials and a palette that I will use.
Sometimes I build quick sketches in 3D, using a foam board and plasticine to check their dimensions, composition, and framing. Once the sculpture is complete I take a photo of it – this is a very important step in my work, and at this point lighting and framing are essential to building the proper atmosphere. I then retouch the image digitally.
Ever since I was a child,
I have felt a special attraction to three-dimensional objects and miniatures.
I love exploring the possibilities of each project and experimenting with new solutions and textures.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
I get inspired by nature, paintings, sculptures, design, cinema… in the world at large, if you have an open mind to any stimulus, this facilitates the creative flow and inspiration can arise out of the most unexpected things.
What are your resolutions for the year to come?
To continue working on exciting projects which will allow me to grow and experience new things.
A word of wisdom to share with us?
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
IRMA GRUENHOLZ Photo Gallery
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