Growing up, Spanish illustrator Mabel Esteban says she was innately drawn to dark subject matter, and consciously chose to make what she describes as “creepy pictures”. She no longer feels this urge, but admits that much of her current work still carries ominous undertones. “When I work for myself the illustrations usually have a sinister aura, but this turns up naturally, I don't do it on purpose," she says. "I really feel comfortable with this characteristic and I think it is possibly what will make you love my illustrations or hate them.”
We, for one, love them, and are particularly taken with Mabel’s figurative illustrations, which feature dark-haired protagonists that recur throughout her work. Rendered in bold hues, Mabel’s figures are frequently accompanied by plants, food and other strange, inanimate objects. The flora wraps itself in an unruly fashion across the frame and there is a sense of foreboding in the detached, remote expressions of the characters. Their faces feel like facades that hide a deeper symbolism and, according to Mabel, that may well be the case. “Somehow, I like to talk about the mysterious, about what is hidden,” she explains. “My work has become softer [over time] but this mystery is still very latent.”
Copyright © Mabel Esteban, 2023
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.