Today, we are joined by Martín Azambuja , he is an Illustrator. You can view his portfolio here.

  • Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!

From childhood I was attracted to drawing, I remember several times drawing without doing anything else and spend hours. I liked sketching things I saw and draw pencil portraits of people, always with pencil, I enjoyed playing with shadows and swipe to get different tones. I remember my parents surprised of how I could spend hours just drawing a house, a tree, a landscape, etc.., Really enjoyed it.

Then when the first computer arrived in home, I remember to illustrate many things in the classic program called “Paint”. At that time I remember drawing with the mouse anything close, album covers, book covers, etc..

When I was growing up, I always thought about studying architecture but then I met the graphic design profession through a one-day workshop I did and I chose this career. No doubt it should be a career where illustration is important.

I was lucky that my parents have encouraged me to do what I want from boy and supported me very important in order to design college for 4 years.

  • Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?

No doubt that in college I learned a lot and also gave me the opportunity to meet other people with the same interests as me, that helped me to learn new things and different skills, work processes, etc.. Beyond that, I think where one learns the most is working. In my case while I was in college, I worked in an advertising agency for a year and a half. Working in advertising in my opinion is not very good for a designer since one is not part of the creative process many times and just need to reflect other ideas graphically. But beyond that, I served for working methods, suppliers and spend hours on the computer researching and knowing what was happening in the world of design. I remember some days had very little work and that allowed us to spend hours in front of the screen watching various design blogs, art, etc.. No doubt that this step helped me to define this career I wanted to do for a living.

Then in recent years after working one year in a design studio, I am almost two years working alone and have a studio with another illustrator. Definitely these days I am still learning to work alone because you have to handle more things, not just design. I have to manage projects, payments, meetings, etc.. It’s a challenge but I’m really enjoying.

  • What does your creative process look like?

Works on the process has been better was when I can talk to much with the client before confirming the job. I want to know well the situation and what the client is looking to pass a budget adequate and well detailed. After that, I also have some questions (similar to a brief) that sometimes I send to the client to get more information. This is good because it forces the client to become more involved in the project and to provide information that is sometimes impossible to get since I’m not in place or in his head.

After the work is confirmed, start researching about the project, see things that the client has done before, similar things from other brands, which is the target audience of the illustration or design, which is to be used, etc.. Without doubt this is one of the most important parts because you’re filling your head after some information that consciously or unconsciously going to use it. It also serves to learn new things that in some cases never would have learned.

After obtaining this information I moved to the step by step sketch. My pencil sketches are pretty basic and even sometimes I’m embarrassed to show them. I think this also depends on the client, I think in some cases the very basic pencil sketch can confuse the other person, so I prefer to send a job to a little more advanced vectors showing the process I made to get to that solution. Then if it is approved, I move to a final phase in which work details of the illustration and sometimes even I make small changes to get to the final version. (let me know I Could send you some images).

  • Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?

In my opinion the books are becoming increasingly more valuable when you want to search for references of design and observe the work of others. Internet is full of images and references but there are still things that are only in books, so take more time value and is good every now and look at different things.

In my case I really like to find other books from decades which I admire the design and also the work from other illustrators. I recently acquired several numbers of the books “Graphics Annual” between 58´ and 63´, have very interesting things and I think you need to get inspiration from other places other than the internet. I also recommend the Japanese graphic design and illustrations books, I recently obtained a 1950 book of Japanese design and every time I see something surprised me, the colors, methods, something always amazes me.

About programs, work 80% of my time with Illustrator, I really like working with vectors.

  • Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?

Right now I’m combining the work between the studio and some days in my house. A year ago I moved in with my girlfriend and I have a home studio because sometimes I have to work here.

In my case, I have a record collection and when I work I really like listening to Jazz. Undoubtedly relaxes me and helps me to concentrate in what I must to do. Today it is very difficult to get concentrated over two hours to work on something with the amount of stimuli around us, internet is the first one haha.

As for places, I do not usually change much, work at home or in the studio but every so often if I need to give a ride to clear his head. Sometimes a design or illustration is always running around in my head for more than you’re not working and that sometimes it’s stressful because you can not separate the work of others situations. In my case I play soccer and practice games with my friends are good to clear my head and think of something else.

  • Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?

In my case there are 2 times of the day to enjoy working, very early morning and very late night. Are there two quiet times and when I can focus more on the job. It’s a bit difficult to combine this times so much depends on what I have to do. At the time I worked in a studio and freelance in my house, I took the habit of working with the tranquility of the night and I enjoy it a lot. I think when there is less incentive and you can concentrate well. A night with jazz playing in the background I think is my ideal work situation.

  • What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?

I think the relationship between art, illustration and design is very close. Obviously there are some techniques, processes, etc.. that are specific to the job but it has happened to me many times to enjoy works cataloged “design” that are performed by “artists”. A good artist does not make it a good designer, but I think the distance you must continue to be much lower than the rest, no doubt.

  • What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?

I think I can after two years of working freelance, say that would never work in a local agency. Being able to manage my schedule is something I think is a blessing and should be valued much. No doubt there are times of stress in which work long hours and go out shortly but I can also choose any day to take it free, go for a walk with my girlfriend, do another activity. It is essential to manage a good work schedule when you work freelance, it will avoid many headaches.

If I worked for a design studio or agency, it would be in another country and to learn more about the process and how recognized design studios work. It would be a dream to someday work in Chermayeff & Geismar or Pentagram for example.

  • How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?

I recently had the opportunity to work for a coffee store in New York called “Kaffe 1668” located in Tribeca, Soho. It was a great process and outcome was also very good. It all started thanks to a drawing I made in a spare moment, no client, without payment, simply because I wanted to do. Thanks to this design, the client saw it in my Behance ( and contacted me to see if I could illustrate labels of their pressed juice they do in their coffee. I had the opportunity to exchange several emails before submitting a financial proposal, told me they were 25 labels, one for each juice.

After confirm the work, he send to my house in Montevideo (Uruguay) sample bottles to work on them. The good thing about this project is that I had complete freedom to work with them and the client had seen my illustrations, this means that there were no other references to other illustrators (which I don´t like).

From this I illustrated and designed the labels of each juice focusing on the values ​​of each (energy, vitamins, etc..). Luckily the process was great for both of us, and there was no correction and sent them the material to be printed in Nyc. Total work time was about 1 month and a half and the result was very good. I had the chance to travel to Nyc to meet with the client and see work applied in the coffee store, which is undoubtedly one of the best feelings for a designer, see their work interacting with the everyday lives of people.