Scholastic Book Fairs social feeds have been filled with vibrant celebrations that explore the richness and diversity of Hispanic and Latino identities, cultures, and histories over the last month. We’re so honored to have Latina Illustrator Gina Barranco help us celebrate National Hispanic Latino Heritage Month.
Gina's pride of her country and heritage comes through in her work. “For me, having lived in a Latin country for all my life, it feels great to have the opportunity to capture what Latin culture means to me, all the colors, textures, and vibrant elements that make it unique.”
We took a moment with Gina to learn more about her design work.
What sparked your interest in design?
Gina: I have always been clear (literally since I was a child) that I wanted to work, as an adult, in something that had to do with art. It has always been something that has interested me, everything that is manual-painting, making crafts, drawing, painting murals... and I am lucky enough to have followed that path.
What do you like most about being an artist/illustrator?
Gina: What I like most about being an illustrator is that I can create my own worlds, that I can show people, in a graphic way, how I see things or what I think or interpret about a subject.
Can you tell us more about your creative process? Do you have a routine when you create?
Gina: I have definitely maintained the same routine since I started working as an illustrator. First (and the hardest part) look for a concept, define what I want and how I am going to communicate it graphically and in a creative way. After having an idea that I understand could work, I make several sketches of how I visualize it until I come up with one that I like. After I have a sketch, I begin to refine that sketch and fix the shapes and composition. After I have a final sketch, I make another kind of colored sketch to see how it works and then I start to make the final shapes and the last step... add details and textures, lights and shadows (my favorite part) because that phrase is definitely real, the one that says that, “the details make the difference” and make the illustration take another perspective. I know! (a very long process,but illustrating has taught me to be patient).
With what do you create your art?
Gina: I generally work with the computer and the iPad Pro, everything that is digital. But, I still like doing some manual illustrations because it takes me out of the digital world for a moment, and it is fun and different to use real life materials.
What are your art inspirations?
Gina: Although it may sound a bit "cliché," I am a believer that inspiration can be found anywhere, in a conversation, in a movie or series that I am watching, in a book, in nature, on some special trip, walking Lupita (my dog), literally anywhere . There's also inspiration from the things I've been exposed to and maybe I don't even realize it, until the idea comes to mind. I think that part is my color palette, which expresses a lot the "eternal summer" and living on the island that I have lived all my life.
We must know more about your furry sidekick, Lupita. We noticed she has an Instagram account.
Gina: Lupita is literally my best friend, (I know cliché again! But it's true!) She is a great inspiration for me. Since she came into my life, she does so many fun things that inspire me to include her in most of my illustrations. She has made me a better human being and is my main character to illustrate forever!
Do you have a favorite book?
Gina: One book that I read that is very special to me is Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett. It touched me a lot because it talks about the importance of doing something you love in your daily life, that no matter how bad you are going through, if you love what you do enough, and you are honest with what that means to you, it can always save you.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Gina: Lupita, my pet! My favorite living thing. And, plants of course!
And of course we have to know, do you have any Scholastic Book Fairs memories?
Gina: Now that I had the opportunity to enter the Scholastic universe and see everything it offers, I would have loved to have that experience since I was a child, and all the great stories and authors. Now I would like to be in school again and read everything. Thank you for giving me this opportunity even as an adult.