Through detailed illustrations, Marina Fernández creates a phantasmagoric land. In this land, there are alpacas, monkeys offering flowers, nighttime wanderers and strange creatures riding into the evening – all of which are placed in a minimal colour palette and decorated with busy scenes. “My images often feature current day and life situations, as well as feelings or physical emotions,” says Marina, “but not necessarily negative ones.”
Like most illustrators, Marina found herself enjoying the process of drawing, watching cartoons and reading books from a young age. “When I was about seven, my mum started studying fine arts in Seville and I decided to do it as well,” she tells It’s Nice That. “My parents were very supportive of it.” Then, after graduating in printmaking, she worked in this medium for a couple of years before moving to London with some friends – here, the group set up a basic screen printing table and started printing their own personal illustrations. “Back in Seville, I created Siesta – my first zine. It was Risoprinted by Ultimo Mono, and it’s about a sort-of a dreamy day out; a getaway from a Sevillian summer,” she adds. “I spent a long time on the process, but it was fun. I was already in love with Risoprinting but after that, I fell deeper for it.”
Marina would describe her style as one that’s “surreal and a bit silly”, as well as “digitally hand-drawn [with] short colour palettes”. She pulls inspiration from various sources, spending hours “just looking at images”. Her main references come from Medieval book illustrations and Japanese ukiyo-e, Hieronymus Bosch, as well as children’s books and more recently painters Peter Doig and Anna Topuriya. “I also love lots of current illustrators and comics artists like Cynthia Alfonso, Andreas Maganz and Ruohan Wang, among many many others.” She also draws heavily from an interest in religion. “I’ve always been intrigued by religions, myths and folklore, and the way their stories are told in pictures – particularly the compositions and use of symbols,” she says. “Among other things, the different truths and how time works in different faiths fascinates me. [I’m also interested in] the little holy relics and mementos that people keep like the ones that my grandparents had in there houses.”
Once compiled, Marina looks to her references and starts creating – confessing that she’s somewhat a bit disorganised and works without a proper routine. When the process strikes, her personal projects go something like this: “When I’m relaxed I write some ideas down and sketch,” she says. “I quite like automatic drawing while I’m doing something else, like answering the phone or watching something, as a way to come up with different image associations. After knowing what I want to represent or tell, I would do a few drafts of possible compositions and element details until I more or less know which one to start drawing on the Cintiq (sometimes I also draw it on paper and scan it).” This mostly digital approach allows Marina plenty of freedom to experiment where, after providing a linear rough, she applies colour and lets the process evolve organically.
After adding, reorganising, taking down elements and changing bits here, she admits that her illustrations tend to get rather overcrowded at times – “sometimes I even do other different illustrations from the ones I discarded,” she says. “Finally I would group up the layers to do negatives, just in case it’s going to be screen or Riso-printed.” But this disorganised means of making is something that she appreciates. “I guess my personal work is mainly for my own amusement,” says Marina, “although I do hope some other people can enjoy it as well.”