Having drawn since childhood, Barcelona-based Genie Espinosa always knew that one day she’d become an illustrator. But as she grew older, life seemed to get in the way – as it so often does – and it wasn’t until her later years that she realised her role in marketing wasn’t quite right for her. One day, she left her former job to become a professional illustrator, “and here I am six years after that crazy thought, working full-time and happy about it.”
Upon first glance at Genie’s portfolio, you’re instantly greeted with vibrant colours, outlandish figures and some catchy slogans. “I would say that it looks more innocent than it really is, I think there’s a dark core inside everything I do,” she explains. “I am very fond of subtle messages and just telling things that some people would understand and some won’t.” Delivering these messages are her powerful characters – you see a floating head yelling “bitch, I am everywhere”, a woman with rather shiny bum cheeks, and another woman eating a dripping hot dog alongside “get what’s yours”. Genie suggests: “Scratching a little at the surface would be recommended.”
Once the surface has indeed been scratched, only then will you open up a can of inspirations which range from comics, manga, illustration and animation “from every source” possible since Genie was a child. “Music is a big part of my life too, as it helps me with the big lump in my throat. So, everything I said before,” – the childhood inspirations – “plus horror movies, reality shows and everyday life, all mixed with anxiety and coffee is what inspires me and makes me do my best every time I grab a pencil.”
A typical day sees the illustrator take her dog for a walk to clear her head, which is then followed by a run and a boxing class, something she started recently that helps her cope with anxiety and stress. As she returns to the desk more relaxed and with a coffee in hand, that’s when she grapples with her inbox and whichever task that has the closet deadline. “Sometimes other projects jump before as they’re more fun but that gives me lots of headaches, so I try to be a good girl and don’t do it – even though I can’t resist being a bit naughty sometimes.”
A recent project saw Genie create a couple of posters for the last Lost & Found market in Barcelona, a weekly Sunday market selling vintage and second-hand pieces. With a free and creative brief, she presented wind and flowers “flying into one another”. Another sees a “mute comic spread” for the Catalan newspaper Diari Ara. “This one was quite challenging because I wanted to express something and I struggled a bit on it,” says Genie. “I wasn’t able to find a way to draw it and I had to begin with some A3 drawings, which is very unusual for me.” But it also allowed her to experiment, providing her with a new technique most suitable for her next endeavour – that is, her first graphic novel set to be published next year. “It will be a mix of sci-fi and chavs.” We can’t wait!
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.