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Interview: Rocío Espín Piñar

Illustrator Rocío Espín Piñar talks about her beautiful renditions of classical and mythical cities, how losing her job in architecture allowed her to follow her real passion and her secret love flamenco!

3dtotal

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Rocío

I'm a freelance illustrator located in Spain and work with clients from all over the world. Ive loved drawing ever since I was I little girl and enjoy illustrating whatever comes to mind. I studied architecture at university, so I feel very close to the architectural reconstructions I draw. My last artwork was an illustrated storybook which is yet to be published.

First stage for the drawing, hand drawing, resolving architectural elements (bridges, paths and water channels)

First stage for the drawing, hand drawing, resolving architectural elements (bridges, paths and water channels)

3dtotal

Tell us about your art and the things you like to create.

Rocío

As I said my real passion is architectural reconstructions. I really enjoy imagining how old temples or ancient cities looked and evoking the atmosphere of these places. When I draw, I tend to invent possible scenes, things that might happen in a market or at the entrance to a castle... I have a lot of fun doing that.

Second stage for the drawing, digital color in Photoshop, giving the depth and distance

Second stage for the drawing, digital color in Photoshop, giving the depth and distance

3dtotal

Who or what are your big inspirations? Which artists do you revere?

Rocío

When I was a child I had fun leafing through tourist guides in the bookstores, I loved the illustrations explaining the Pyramid of Keops or the bird's-eye-view pictures of the Acropolis of Athens. Then, I discovered the historical scenes of the nineteenth century Orientalist painters, which are astonishing to me. But above all, my artist icon is Fernando Baptista (National Geographic Magazine) with whom I've had the great chance of collaborating (and learning) and who, besides being a magnificent artist, is a wonderful person.

Reconstruction of the old Carthage and his mythical harbor in the mid-second century BC

Reconstruction of the old Carthage and his mythical harbor in the
mid-second century BC

3dtotal

What tools, techniques or software do you use to create your art?

Rocío

To begin with I draw a scene with pencil (which is essential to me) and then scan it and color in Photoshop. I know Photoshop is very accurate at imitating traditional painting tools but it still doesn't get the fluidity and natural communication I get with hand drawing.

Constantinople in 360 AD. Thanks to Google Earth and the planimetry provided by historians I was able to sketch the huge widespread perspective

Constantinople in 360 AD. Thanks to Google Earth and the planimetry provided by historians I was able to sketch the huge widespread perspective

3dtotal

Much of your art focuses on recreations of historical and mythical cities and monuments such as Constantinople, Atlantis and great temples; what is your interest in depicting these places? Why do you choose to depict them from a birds-eye-view?

Rocío

When I'm depicting these places I try to give a possible answer to questions about construction, functionality and appearance. I use the birds-eye-view because its the clearest way to depict it; it gives us a general vision which can show many aspects. For example, how was the communication between the water rings in the old Atlantis, how the Atlantian configured the bridges and water channels or what function every area in the city had.

Representation of the Inuit myth of Kayla. I had to join very disparate elements so the biggest effort was that everything fit into the same image

Representation of the Inuit myth of Kayla. I had to join very disparate elements so the biggest effort was that everything fit into the same image

3dtotal

If you could give your younger self advice when it comes to art, what would it be?

Rocío

I studied architecture for nine years, but I lost my job as architect because of the 2008 construction crisis. On one hand I was very afraid to start with something new but in the other hand I felt free to do my real passion: illustration. Thats why I'd be very direct Id just give this advice: Have fun, don't be afraid. Youll do well if you enjoy it.

Recreation of the Crossbow tournament at Ghent in 1440. Again Google Earth helped me a lot. Historians provided me pictures of crossbows tournament in that age

Recreation of the Crossbow tournament at Ghent in 1440. Again Google Earth helped me a lot. Historians provided me pictures of crossbows tournament in that age

3dtotal

What is your dream project?

Rocío

I'm almost touching it with my fingers! I want to draw the cities which appear in the Bible. I'm starting a very interesting project; it will illustrate different cities of antiquity for history podcasts. The historian responsible in the project is a really good professional and I'm very excited.

Luxor and Great Aten temples comparison. Commission for National Geograpic Magazine.I was guided heavily by experts and I learnt a lot about Egyptian culture

3dtotal

What techniques, styles or software would you like to learn in the future?

Rocío

I'm very interested in the infography so I'm starting to learn Illustrator. I love how this digital tool can be used to explain different process and developments in an easy way.

Collaboration for National Geographic magazine. Three of the four buildings which have been built through the time on the Holy Sepulchre (these drawings are exposed in the Nat Geo museum)

Collaboration for National Geographic magazine. Three of the four buildings which have been built through the time on the Holy Sepulchre (these drawings are exposed in the Nat Geo museum)

3dtotal

If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be doing?

Rocío

Since I left the architecture I cant imagine myself doing other thing than drawing but I have to recognize my other hidden passion: The flamenco. I'm not very good at singing or playing the guitar so I guess I'd be a dancer (bailaora). I love the legendary Carmen Amaya or the actual dancer Olga Pericet. Its amazing how free you can feeling dancing flamenco. I highly recommend it.

A birds eye of the ancient Britannia in roman age. I had to imagine everything, starting from zero because actual London is very different

A birds eye of the ancient Britannia in roman age. I had to imagine everything, starting from zero because actual London is very different

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?

Rocío

Apart from the project of antiquity cities and the storybook I've illustrated, I'm trying to channel a couple of personal projects I started and I didn't find time to finish. One is about botanical illustration and the other one is a children's storybook written and illustrated by me. I hope to finish them some day.

Reconstruction of a private house in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. I also inspired myself in The Getty Villa

Reconstruction of a private house in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. I also inspired myself in The Getty Villa

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