Marcela Gutiérrez paints in fashion – Interview

Words by Rachel Preece

Marcela Gutiérrez paints in fashion - Interview Marcela Gutiérrez is the Guatemalan fashion illustrator, whose works can currently be found gracing Prada’s flagship stores walls. As well as designing Prada’s wallpaper, the Barcelona-based artist has illustrated for fashion photographer Rankin’s new magazine The Hunger and has worked with Beyoncé’s creative team. We thought we’d better catch up with the young talent to see what she’s been up to lately.

You use a lot of gouache and ink in your paintings, what paints do you prefer to use?
I don’t have a specific preference, I enjoy very much painting with gouache, ink and watercolours; they require a significant amount of concentration and I have to be very quick and focused because they dry fast and it is unalterable, yet I have learned to embrace accidents in my work. I also love painting with oil, it’s more relaxing, but I rarely have the time, since a painting can take weeks to accomplish.

You say it’s more relaxing – does your mood dictate what paints you use?
No, I don’t feel it has to do with my mood, it is more a matter of the time I have to finish a project.

You have stated, that you are mostly inspired by fashion photography – which photographers do you find particularly interesting?
I am inspired by many photographers; among my favorites are Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Mario Sorrenti, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and Solve Sundsbo. But I also feel inspired by other fine artists such as Christian Schoeler.

You have recently designed the wallpaper for Prada’s flagship stores. How did the collaboration come about?
I was contacted by the 2 x 4 design studio, responsible for the creative direction and design of the Prada wallpapers over the last ten years. I had just finished the paintings for an exhibition I had in LA and they used them as references for what they wanted: big brushstrokes, saturated colours and massive portraits.

Did you have a clear idea as to how the images would appear, or is it something that evolved while painting?
I had the specific requirements for each of the nine paintings, I needed to do realistic close-ups of the models, but the clothing had to be a spontaneous abstract interpretation. I had to consider the composition of each model. So what did evolve, while I was painting, was the clothing, since I couldn’t plan the outcome.

Tell us about your upcoming collaboration with Rankin…
I received an email from the Rankin team, saying that he was a fan of my work and that he’d like to collaborate. He wanted an illustrated editorial of his own photographs. I produced eight large paintings. This was the first time a photographer has asked me directly to interpret his own work with paintings – I was very excited, also because it was for the first issue of his new magazine The Hunger, which launched last week.

You’ve also worked with Beyoncé – talk us through the collaboration…
I had met Beyonce’s very talented stylist Jenke Ahmed Tailly. He asked me for a portfolio to show Beyonce and a few months later I was commissioned for an illustration, that included seven of the photographs in her album Around the World. It was very difficult, as I had 24 hours to complete this illustration and I was in a hotel in LA at the time, I did it all from the hotel room!

All pictures: ©Marcela Gutiérrez