IF Interviews: Fernanda Cohen

Biography:

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moved to NY in 2000 to go to SVA, graduated in 2003, started being recognized and stayed in the US for good. Recently got married to the love of my life. Working mostly with magazines and ad campaigns, including The New Yorker, The NY Times Magazine, Target, Fast Company, Cosmo, Child, The Guardian, and Continental Airlines among others. Have received over fifty awards.
Website:

www.fernandacohen.com

How did you get started in the illustration field?

I went to School of Visual Arts for illustration and then spent about a year producing work in my studio until I started to be able to make a living out of illustration. The more you draw, the more you get to know yourself and what you can do.

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?

It has changed A LOT since I started thinking about illustration (in college), though not that much since I started working as an illustrator. Most people develop their styles after graduating because when they’re in school they’re still trying stuff out and getting it out of their system.

What is your process when working with clients? Can you run us through a typical job?

Fortunately, I’m usually given the freedom to come up with my own concepts. So, I’ll get a draft of the story I have to illustrate, read it, and then turn in two to three different sketches. Sometimes art directors will request changes, which I apply immediately, and sometimes they won’t. Once they choose the direction we’re going in, I go straight to the final.

What is your creation process (start with sketches, etcâ?¦)?

I first think about the concept for as long as I can, sketch different angles in my head, and then put it on paper in pencil. I use photo reference when necessary, or just draw out of my head depending on the subject. After I’m done with the sketch, I ink it up, and fill it in with water-based colors. The only digital step in the process is scanning.

How do you market/promote your work?

A lot of it is getting published and word of mouth, and some of it is sending postcards and winning competitions.

Do you have a rep? Why/why not?

Not for long….by now I know it’s best to try a few different reps until you find the right match.

What was one of your favorite assignments?

Both yearly fashion campaigns I did for Ikram, a high-end boutique based in Chicago. She gave me absolute freedom, and believed in me when I was just getting started. I ended up photographing myself at least a hundred times to create the girls for her campaign.

What is the best part about what you do?

Laughing at my concepts, and having good ideas when I do.

Describe your work setting.

I have a studio at home; it’s a fairly large room where I keep all my art in a closet, have a sofa, a large table I draw on and a few small tables for my supplies. I also have at least a dozen stuffed animals, over 400 books on art and artists, and vintage toys I’ve collected over the years. I also have a framed cover of The New Yorker on the wall, and a poster of one Steinberg’s shows.

Do you have side projects you work on?

Always.

How do you maintain balance in your life between work and play?

The most fun is actually when I’m working, otherwise, to answer your question, yes, I do have a pretty balanced life. Especially ever since I met my wonderful husband David.

Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?

Yes, I do, and I hate it every single time, but it’s usually a good sign of change, otherwise it would be too mechanical. I go for a walk when it happens.

What do you do for fun/when you’re not working?

I travel, spend time with my family, or stay local and go to the movies. I’ve gotten really sucked into 24 lately, as long as I can rent it…otherwise I donâ??t ever watch TV.

What has been inspiring you lately?

A conversation with Milton Glaser, and another with an Argentine gallerist named Ana Torrejón.

Any advice for others who are pursuing creative goals?

Be as diverse as you possibly can, yet keep your style consistent and stay focused. If you love it, you’ll be persistent enough to get there, or you may just realize on the way you weren’t as passionate about it as you thought you were.

Thank you for this interview, Fernanda!

Life images (photos by David Schulman):

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Posted by admin on 02/19/07 under Interviews
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