Roger Olmos

go outside and warm up your brain...

  • Tell us about you and when did you decide to be an illustrator?

 I always have been in touch with any kind of art, in my house my father use to paint at home, he was a graphic designer, but without computer, all hand made. So the smell of paint, gouache an turpentine and many art books  have been always present. At school, like all my friends, we use to allways draw, the difference is that I never stoped, My books were always full of drawings. We use to travel a lot through the country, visiting many museums, churches, chapels and cathedrals. I was always fascinated by sacred paintings and sculputres, huge and laborious altarpieces that make you feel a tinny little person. Many relics in the center and some times a nun or bishop mummified. It was not about religion that came my fascination. I was more fascinated with all this darkness and pain that those masterpieces and sculptures reflected, surrounded by this ancient silence illuminated by a thin ray of light. I think  because this, many people says that my works breath some time  a little bit of… dark. But not only this, also Eddy, this character allways present on  the Iron Maiden band, and the great illustrations from Brian Froud and many others inspired me too. So when all my friends were deciding which career they had to choose, I discover that I could live from this, so I landed at the Llotja Avinyó school in Barcelona to study Illustration.


  • How do you define your illustrations?

It's difficult to say…  maybe some times melancholic, other are more crazy, humorous, others maybe painful, some times i try to make you travel to the past… I don’t really know how to describe them...


  • With what technique are you more comfortable?

I’ve tried many’s, and actually now I’m working with oil paintings. I love the colors, textures. Oil let you work slowly, so you can correct, eliminate the marks of the brush, and the paper the paper does not wrinkle. 

The only bad thing is the smell. 


  • Would you explain more about your books, do you prefer philosophical story or fictional ?

Philosophical in a way  to wake some thoughts inside  minds of readers (or watchers in my case). When I do a entire book myself, story and illustrations, I like to be critic with some ideas or establishments that are in our society. WORDLESS and AMIGOS talk about how we treat animals in this world. But I think that is better to make you think a bit, showing you some situations where later it is yourself who make final conclusions. But just giving the informations, trying to be objective and showing what they are playing with, and the most important, not lying. But some times I like to illustrate just for fun, some nonsense story just to make you laugh, or represent ridiculous situations, or melancholic… depends of the moment.


  • What is the importance of philosophical role specially nowadays?

I believe that even if it’s from reality or fantasy , illustrated books have, beside others functions like to have fun, make you dream, or feed your imagination, they have to educate. To show how to be sensible in front a situation, colors or textures. Inspire other minds with scenes illuminated in a particularly way. Show important values that they are going to find in their real life. As I said in the last question always telling the truth, without hiding the reality. Sickness exist, war exist, poverty, really bad people very well dressed also exist. Typical stories where pink princesses fall in love with the eternal blue prince for example have done quite pain to so many people… In my case for example, I’m in fight with all this authors that keep telling their beautiful stories in places like circus, farms or Zoos. Places where they want to show how animals are willing to make  children happy or pretending that their life are easy and pleasant in those places. The reality is that those places are prisons for them,  horror concentration camps where they loose they freedom and soon or later they will find a painful death because our benefit, fun for the ignorants and money for the cruel. So those are not themes to make beautiful stories for their benefit, these beautiful stories should be for their freedom. So For me I think this is the important role of philosophical in children books, don’t lie them when you deal with real issues.


  • How many times do you tend to draw a character until it’s right, and also how do you know that it is right?

Never enough time… And  I never know if it is ready (jajaja). We work with deadlines, so from the first minute they give the OK, time is running out. Many times in the middle of a project, they come to your head new ideas or different ways to do it… to me it happens constantly. But i guess that it arrive a moment where you have to learn to know when to say stop, and here you have your new character. The main character is going to be with you the whole Storie, she or he or it has to reflect the personality, the psychology of she’s or he’s or it's behavior, and make it fill it to the reader. so when you get that, is done.


  • • Where does an idea come from and how does it transform from an idea into a book?

From everywhere, the illustrators have to be the best “observers” in the world. Every detail, movement, color or shape could inspire you. It is very important to read, to watch films, go outside, see the clouds, find forms in a dirty wall… that’s our food. All those things plus our personal experience and mixing it with a bit of craziness, you can get the idea you are looking for. The difficult think is to realize that this same idea, all along your whole life, is going to have to change, it has to mature. For example: there are many ways to represent a simple scene where some one is having a coffee. In the reality anybody stops in front of some one who is having a pleasant cup of coffee in a bar. But in a illustration, you are going to observe this situation closely, and it is my job, to give you more information of this situation: is she waiting for someone? is he just having some minutes of relax? is  she nervous…. mysterious because the way the light touch her, keeps her face in shadows… but I show the smoke  of a cigarette over her head been traversed by some ray of lights?   The difficult  is not only to have the idea, also is difficult what to do with it once you have it. 

  • How do you decide what to include and what not to include in the book?

When I do do the story board, you create many scenes to explain the story, normally you are attached of a determinate number of pages, so you can not extend to much on some pages to explain something. You choose in function of which of these ones will create some tension, or maybe to arrive at this moment of the story I going to need three steps to make understand what is happening. At the end you see which scenes you need and which ones you can avoid. 

  • How do you find thinking about the book as a whole – the text, illustration, design – in comparison with illustrating someone else’s text?

I think it is much more difficult to do a whole book by your self than to illustrate a story from another one author. When they give you a text you have everything done, you only have to worry about characters, architectures and the style you are going to use. But you own story? is very difficult to create a clima or to be sure if this is the way you want to explain it. Most of times, during the process, you are correcting many times the way to end it, or how you get to this point, I need to do 4 scenes more but oH! no more pages!! so I have to cut some other from the begining… it is always like this to me.

  • Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

 My father on the way of working, the way he educate me pushing me always to think that once something is finished, a second time it can be better done. And I can say clearly my wife. She’s been a example of how to be consistent with your life. That’s how I did get in touch with veganism. But not only with the respect to other species, as well on our dairy relation with other people. Most of what I am today, I I owe it to her.

  • Can you give some advice to any illustrators out there who may be looking to become a children’s book illustrator?

Every day, when you’ll walk outside, worm up your brain, try to see everything, every little detail is important. Bring always with you  a small sketch book and a pen, and draw something when you’ll have those little moments waiting for someone or something. Be yourself, don’t try to be others. It’s OK to be inspired by other people, everybody does, But try to use it a a tool to transform your own thoughts, transform it in your own language. And… don’t know, think that it always could be better, maybe on the next one ;)



Sonja Danowski


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