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Leo Espinosa
Dream Project
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I've been very fortunate to do a few very fulfilling dream projects during my career but the one I did over the summer exceeded my expectations for many reasons: One, I was asked to illustrate characters from the classic fables of Rafael Pombo, one of Colombia's most famous poets and authors, but more important than that, those where the fables many generations, including mine, grew up reading and I always, always wanted to recreate them in my own style. Two, The illustrations were done for an amazing music project put together by Grammy Award winner, Carlos Vives, with the idea of bringing back Pombo's legacy, but this time, seasoned with all sorts of music rhythms so new generations would enjoy them as well . Three, I went back to live and work in Bogota for almost a month! That might not sound like a big thing to you but I had not been there for so long since I left for New York something close to sixteen years ago. I could keep going but I better stop at my fourth reason: The CD, titled Pombo Musical, was released in early August and in a matter of days turned Platinum! I finally got my own copy yesterday (gracias, Valeria), so here's a little mix of pics, sketches and final art of this dream project I will always hold really close to my heart.
Creating the characters was the biggest challenge since I wanted a contemporary but at the same time classic look to evoke my childhood Pombo books.
The music aspect of the project was perhaps the biggest influence when creating these characters. Every song is interpreted by a different artist and has a different rhythm. Because of Colombia's topography the difference of cultures and music is very rich and diverse. This was my everyday uniform for insporation: a "Vueltiao" sombrero from the Caribean coast.
Sketches and more sketches. I did many versions of each character focusing on the importance of making them my own, trying to forget about trends and visual influences.
Here's a detail of the CD sleeve. One side was printed with the lyrics/fables and the other was done as a big poster with tons of characters.
Another detail: Playing with type and a simple palet made the project really enjoyable and less stressful. The designer and I were working against the clock! (Keep in mind people always have to make room for very long lunches down there :-)
Macario, from the fable "El robanidos" (the nest snatcher) was perhaps one of my favorites. Because of how dynamic his pose came out, I had to go back and redesign some other characters that look too stiff in comparison. That added a couple of allnighters but it was totally worth it.
All those bright colors can make you very hungry. Fortunately there was always good food around. Pictured here, an Argentinean alfajor (my favorite dessert).
Et voilà! The unfolded CD sleeve doubling as a poster! I'm hoping kids would spend time exploring all the details I put in there and using these drawings as a reference to create their own.
Icons needed to be created to decorate the lyrics and to use with collateral material. I usually hate doing these little thingies, but I trully enjoyed creating this set. The little bird is from a song about the soul (which has no wings but it can fly) but I'm not even goint to attempt a translation. Pombo's words are too precious for me to mess up with them.
Besides the illustrations that were part of the CD cover, which I created in pencil and markers and colored in Photoshop, I also did vector versions that are going to be used for merchandising.
One more vector character I was really please with: Her name is "Tía Pasitrote" and she is that crazy aunt that's always in a rush going somewhere.
And finally the creative team behind Pombo Musical: My good friend and design director Lucho Correa, who taught me a lot while creating this project, Me, the doodle director and Carlitos Vives, the music mastermind. Not pictured here but a key ingredient of the whole enchilada, Claudia Vasquez.
Did I mention that that's a cardboard sombrero?
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