Interviewing Genie Espinosa is exactly as you'd imagine from the illustrator's personal, playful art style. The Spanish creative's emails are sprinkled with capital letters, heaps of ha-has and exclamations, and a lot of honesty amidst her freewheeling words.
Genie's work over the last few years will have no doubt tumbled into your social feeds, with clients ranging from Time Out to Life Saving Lingerie. She's everywhere, and the artist is so prolific that you won't be surprised that she's currently pumping out a graphic novel alongside a bunch of projects just waiting for the green light. Don't let envy get you green though; just get Genie!
Hi Genie! What's been keeping you busy lately?
It's been crazy (and I'm not just talking about the pandemic). I find myself on a roller coaster that goes from "Oh god, I don't have anything to do" to "Oh my god, I've got too much to do!" I have never been great keeping a good track of things, but lockdowns and isolation and the current state of things have messed with my brain a lot. But I am just in the final sprint for finishing my first graphic novel to be published March 2021, and in-between, so many awesome projects all piled up together waiting for a green light so I can do them!
Please tell us about your career so far
Oh! It's a very long path. I feel I am still marching, sometimes I feel like I am left out, and sometimes I think I am one of the front runners. Since I decided to quit my job and start freelancing when I was 28, I had the feeling I needed to push myself and make things happen faster, or they will never happen for me.
As my studies (Economics and Graphic Design) and job (Graphic Designer and then Head of Marketing in an automotive store) were so far away from what I wanted to do (children's books!) I felt I had to cover that gap with a lot of work and lack of sleep. It paid off because after all these years I am still running down this marvellous path. But it's exhausting sometimes.
How would you describe your style?
The lovely band Dream Nails I've been working with for the past year described my work as "bold, vibrant, unapologetic" and "sometimes angry". I think nobody has ever been as accurate at describing it as them (maybe because we've been so close for so long!) But if I had to add something, I would say that I want to illustrate what I wish existed, so I could have references on shapes and textures when I was looking for something to identify myself with while growing up.
Which projects of yours are you most proud of?
My graphic novel! I am 100 pages in and still doing it; I could never imagine I'd be doing it with added extra jobs here and there, juggling so many different mindsets. But I am thrilled I am doing it! Also, I would say any project I say 'Yes' to is because I find my heart very close to the concept, and I usually jump in with all my energy and willpower. Anything that I share or post I am delighted to have worked on!
What comics, creatives and cartoons inspired you growing up?
Disney animation and comics were definitely a huge thing for me growing up. I've always been a bit of a loner, happy to hide in my room and read and draw so they felt like company. I was obsessed with Stephen King and Anne Rice at a young age, and I remember playing video games until crazy hours at night.
I grew up reading many Spanish comics, like Mortadelo y Filemón and Zipi y Zape. All these influenced me, and I think having read so much has created a massive visual archive in my brain. Also, I was such a manga and anime fan in my teenage years, so authors like Rumiko Takahashi and (all-female manga team) Clamp have been very much in my library since then.
When it comes to drawing, what's the one thing you find most challenging to illustrate?
As most of my work is about feelings and attitude towards life, I find it a bit hard to illustrate things that lack meaning for me. I need to feel connected and love the thing I am working on; when I feel it doesn't belong to me anymore, the feeling is not very nice.
As per things that I can't draw specifically, you'll laugh, but I can't draw bananas. I've never been able to, and I never will. I don't like them in real life, so maybe I am just projecting the hate in paper!
What tools and things could you not live without for your work?
The iPad or Cintiq and the possibility of undoing things a million times! Also coffee, my two magic notebooks and the pieces of paper I have rolled on my table with sketches and random ideas (I think this would also imply a pen, haha!)
How did you keep some normality in 2020 with all the chaos?
I've done so many things. During the first lockdown, I got into training at home, lost so much weight and was the fittest I've ever been. Then I started cooking and eating, so I am now super out of shape and feeling like a blob. I started cooking things under the name of Overreacting Cooking (I have a highlights folder on Insta), and I can say I haven't done bad, quite proud actually!
What are your hopes for 2021?
I hope everything becomes a bit easy, and we can get back to medium normality. I think that would take the weight off my mind and I'll be able to enjoy and think with a bit more clarity. I hope that my novel gets published and sold into other languages and I hope you like it when you read it!
I also hope I have the chance to work with great clients as I have so far. I also want to enjoy a bit of calm and if possible, have a semi-long holiday. That would be very nice!
Please suggest an interesting question I can ask the next creative I interview. Thanks!
Have you ever felt after working in your dream job, you didn't want to do it anymore? And how do you deal with the lowest periods (mental health-wise) in your career?