Artist Adriana Lozano on discovering new music through drawing
In the first part of our ongoing collaboration with Spotify Fresh Finds, we speak with Adriana Lozano who has created a series of portraits representing a roster of independent artists.
It’s Nice That has partnered up with Spotify’s Fresh Finds, the go-to playlist collection for emerging artists across genres. Visual artist Adriana Lozano teamed up with a selected group of independent musicians, portraying them in her signature style. We chat to Adriana about her research-led process to create illustrative representations of each featured artist.
Upon finding a new musical love, one of the most thrilling elements of discovery is the process of learning about the artist. Once hooked on a new track or album, most of us usually adopt the same habit of trying to find out as much as possible about this new musical crush, heading online to read interviews or snooping on their social media accounts. Learning who this artist is personally is a significant moment when connecting with a musician, especially when their art can feel like it directly relates to you. It’s all part of the joy of discovering new music.
To signify this moment and the excitement it evokes, as part of It’s Nice That’s collaboration with Spotify’s suite of Fresh Finds playlists, we’ve commissioned artist Adriana Lozano to create a series of bespoke portraits. Creating detailed portrayals of the best in independent new music, each of Adriana’s pieces offers a deeper sense of who these artists are, and provides a chance to get to know them and their craft in a new visual way.
Born in Colombia, but kicking off her creative career in Buenos Aires and now residing back in Barichara, a little town in Colombia, Adriana’s drawings first develop from a long period of people watching. Sometimes inspiration can strike after spotting a bored person in a restaurant, or Adriana will stash away saved images into a folder titled “Next Drawings”. Wanting to keep hold of this quality in her portraiture approach for Spotify (which, due to obvious reasons, is created from photography rather than a sitting subject), Adriana first tried to get to know her subjects by listening to their music. While getting familiar with their back catalogue, “I was checking their social networks,” adds the illustrator of her creative sleuthing. “That part was fun because I had the opportunity to see not only the pictures I was given, but also their selfies, or the pictures their friends or family took in a more relaxed environment.”
In turn, creating her own curated portrait of each artist, Adriana developed a mood board of expressions and outfits to pull from. The artist’s next step was then to create rough sketches, with the aim of outlining an overall resemblance of each artist. “That was the easy part,” she tells us. Colour then became the central focus during her second round of research and development, “and it raised the bar on how representative each portrait needed to be.”
This not only included Adriana carefully composing colour palettes to ensure resemblance, “but also, and more surprisingly for me, in their fashion choices,” she explains. As a result across the portraits, you’ll be able to spot a certain level of consideration. For instance, in her drawing of AG Club, a music collective from the Bay Area, Adriana creates personality through the patterned checkered shirt design on the central artist, the glimmer of their earrings, through to the sketching of a logo on another’s cap, or just the sunset-hued sky relating back to their location.
In another, a portrait of Latin artist Gus, Adriana pulls in further detail by posing the artist surrounded by plants – a reference taken from his record covers which feature a sea of plants relating back to his hit, El Jardinero. Elsewhere, facial expressions are more of a focus, notably in Adriana’s drawing of country artist Abby Anderson, which pulls the viewer straight to her recognisable wide-eyed smile. This level of detail needed to be matched well with Adriana’s creative approach in representing characteristics truthfully, adding: “I was happy to be guided through the personal stories of some of the artists, just to realise how much they evolved through their careers and pay attention to what their present moment is.”
The musical style of each artist also influenced the tone of these pieces, from Clubhouse’s pop music, Miloe’s indie songs, or Chappaqua Wrestling’s rock ballads. “All of those different musical styles are crossing all the features that define their different characters,” points out Adriana. This became an influence when the artist was considering the background elements of each musician in particular. “Their music sets me up in a very specific mood and that influenced the choice of placing them in an interior space, or in the middle of a landscape, the specific weather or hour of the day,” she describes. “As there is not much room for interior details, it became all about the election of a single colour or use of light and the texture that I was able to convey from that mood.”
Discovering new music via drawing has been an exciting process for Adriana, who doesn’t often work in this realm within her artworks. Noting how most of us often “end up listening to what you are already used to, it’s amazing to find how discovering something new opens your emotional spectrum,” she says. Relating this feeling back to her own experience of “having moved from the city to a dry tropical forest town, I am getting these crystal-like sensations from hearing different new artists,” she reflects.
Even just working while listening to music has been a new process for Adriana, who relays back the shock “surprise and stupefaction” of a friend when she admitted “that I draw for hours in absolute silence,” she explains. Although never before having a soundtrack to her creative work, the artist finds that music still acts as a backdrop of influences, citing that “there is a relationship between the way I start a drawing and the way a song is composed.” For example, when developing a piece she’ll often utilise words, and creating her own version of lyrics is a regular approach. These snippets of sentences then become “a tune that goes into my head and repeats itself impassively, requesting a specific kind of attitude in all the gestures I have to do.”
With all this research in mind, Adriana decided to stick to the tools she knows best when it came to creating each piece. Sitting at her desk with her trusty “colour pencils and sharpener”, each drawing is composed carefully by hand. Once she felt like she’d utilised the hands-on elements as much as possible, Adriana then pulled each drawing up onto her husband’s extra large monitors to check the details, making the most of “his skills to calibrate them together,” she adds.
Having her final works presented to such a wide audience as Spotify’s has “been a challenge and a dream” for Adriana. Being given the trust to expand her highly characterful and detailed drawings has definitely been a learning curve, but, as the artist puts it, “How often are you asked to do exactly what you like to do, by people that are not only kind fans of your work but are also pushing you to learn and improve?” she asks. “I couldn’t be happier!”
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Adriana Lozano for Spotify Fresh Finds: Hip Hop, AG Club
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.