“I had no idea illustration could be a full-time profession,” Barcelona-based artist Cristina Daura tells It’s Nice That. “I just knew that I wanted to draw for a living. My parents pushed me towards Fine Arts because they wanted me to have a proper job title. I ended up leaving after the first year because I found it too pretentious and stupid.” It was at that point when Cristina turned her attention to illustration, enrolling in a course at La Escola Massana in downtown Barcelona. Over the past few years, Cristina has developed a bold and distinctive style. Her illustrations are charming, carefully considered depictions of unpredictable narratives that include chillies, jockeys, piano-playing rabbits and miniature tigers.
Cristina’s art is executed with expert precision. It is her clear lines, bright colours and imaginative compositions that compel the viewer to imagine the ongoings of her illustrated worlds. Despite her incredibly precise drawings, Cristina can get inspired at any given moment: “An idea can come into my head while I’m walking, hiking or listening to music. I then capture my thoughts in my notebook, penning my ideas onto paper. I also look back on unfinished ideas to see how they might work with other projects or how I could improve them.” Cristina’s strength lies in her ability to arrange supposedly unrelated scenarios side-by-side to create loose narrative impressions rather than fully formed stories. Her poster for Gutter Fest, for example, invites unsettling questions about the detrimental effects of betting but offers no clear explanation.
After finalising the idea or story she wishes to depict, Cristina sets to work. It is important, she explains, to create simple, illustrated frames while still maintaining a level of intrigue. A large part of Cristina’s practice is encouraging the viewer to imagine their own stories using her drawings as suggestions or prompts. “I try to limit the colours as much as I can so I tend to only use between three and five. It might look like I always use a similar colour palette but I usually try different nuances until I find the best combination that works for me,” Cristina explains. It is her complimentary colours and clear sketches that bring Cristina’s deconstructed stories to life.
Cristina has worked with big names like The New York Times, La Republica, and Die Süddeutsche Zeitung magazine and illustrated covers for Penguin Books and posters for clubs like Razzmatazz. When asked how she manages to inject her distinct aesthetic style into every job she takes, Cristina explains: “I try to accept jobs that I know I will find comfortable, and to collaborate with art directors who connect with me. I put a lot of me into the commissions, a lot of personal anecdotes, so it is important to be sure beforehand.”