Small Business Interview with Natalia Ramon Gallardo

One of my favorite things about Instagram is connecting with other artists. You get to see different styles, personalities, and ways to inspire you as an artist. My style is cartoon-realistic, as I like to call it, and seeing others talent is so inspiring.

So this week, I have the pleasure of interviewing artist Natalia Ramon Gallardo. This self-taught 19 year old artist from Spain draws all types of different dogs. Her ability to get the details, expressions, and personalities of each dog is uncanny. Here, she talks about how she started, her process, and lots more. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself.
I’m Natalia Ramón, a 19 years old pet portraitist who lives in Spain. Currently, I study Fine Arts at university, but I invest my free time taking commissions and developing my personal drawing style, a digital hyperrealism. 

Tell us about your shop.
What I offer is a customizable drawing of your pet (no matter which animal it is, or if you have more than one and you want them to be together on the paper), all made by hand but using a digital art programme. This sometimes causes a bit of confusion as some people may think that I edit photos due to the accuracy of the details, but this is far from reality. I follow the same steps as if it was a traditional artwork, adding layers and layers of fur with patience  and constancy. However, despite the fact that right now I’m mostly doing digital portraits, I have also skills in traditional techniques, being possible for me to take commissions of this kind. 

What inspired you to start drawing?
Well, I started drawing when I was just a little girl, maybe six years old. Probably this is such a common thing, as children are really imaginative and most of them enjoy creating characters, stories, new situations… a world made by their own. There are many reasons why I started, but the main one would be that my sister (who is 5 years older than me) used to draw a lot, and that inspired me and made me want to be better than her (as I’ve always been really competitive). However, I kept drawing because it made me feel more stable and relaxed. On paper everything is under control and things can turn out to be whatever you want. When I was about 15, I considered art more than just a game or a hobby, I wanted to become professional, so I decided to practice almost everyday to develop my technique.

“I kept drawing because it made me feel more stable and relaxed. On paper everything is under control and things can turn out to be whatever you want.”

What techniques do you use to make your drawings so realistic?
I started with traditional techniques such as pastel pencils, acrylics, graphite… Doing this I learnt many things, but when I tried the digital media, I completely fell in love with it. I am able to do the same as before, but there are lots of advantages: working with layers is easier (if you organize them correctly), you don’t have to clean brushes, you don’t need to buy a different paper every time you want to draw, you can undo what you’ve done if you don’t like it… Nevertheless, digital media is not a bed of roses. I remember the first drawing I did was a complete mess, I wasn’t used to handling a stylus (the pencil I use to draw), I didn’t know how to manage with the programme, I had many troubles with the layers and I didn’t know how to organize them. In addition, drawing was more difficult at first, as you don’t look at your hands, you look at a screen. It took me many hours to finally feel comfortable with that, but once you accomplish it, you can start improving. 

Why did you decide on pets?
I’ve always liked animals more than any other thing, and I believe that people with pets feel the same for their mascot. Moreover, drawing textures, such as different kinds of fur, is something I find so satisfying. For me, probably animals are the most enjoyable topic to draw, but of course, it’s not the only thing I do. Sometimes I accept human portraits to change my routine, and I also like creating random characters, but I hardly ever post them.   

How long does it take to complete one drawing?
Well, it depends. Some breeds are easier than others. Fluffy animals need more time, this also happens with the black (or white) ones, as the details need to be really subtle. I work on a piece until I think it’s good enough to see the world. But, in average, I need a week per drawing.

I love the expressions in the drawings. Do you use a photo for reference? Do your clients talk about what type of expression or look they want on their pets? 
Yes, I always use a photo for reference, but this doesn’t mean I copy it just the way it looks. Some customers ask me to change some parts they dislike of the pic, to correct the eyes, change the position of the animal…Others want me to avoid the harness, or anything that is not aesthetic. I also add details I don’t see if the photo is blurry, but I try to choose from the pictures they send me, the one with the highest quality. Occasionally, my customers talk me about how their pets are, and this helps me if I have to choose one picture from their profile, because I look for the one that better reflects the aspects they’ve highlighted.  

You mentioned you are self-taught. What did you do to develop your skills?
Yes, I always use a photo for reference, but this doesn’t mean I copy it just the way it looks. Some customers ask me to change some parts they dislike of the pic, to correct the eyes, change the position of the animal…Others want me to avoid the harness, or anything that is not aesthetic. I also add details I don’t see if the photo is blurry, but I try to choose from the pictures they send me, the one with the highest quality. Occasionally, my customers talk me about how their pets are, and this helps me if I have to choose one picture from their profile, because I look for the one that better reflects the aspects they’ve highlighted.  

What advice do you have for future aspiring artists?
I advise them not to procrastinate, the work will be the same today than tomorrow, with the difference that tomorrow you’ll have 24 hours less. Furthermore, the attitude they have is really important, no matter if they’ve just started, they need to be confident with what they’re doing, but also self-critical to recognize their mistakes and find appropriate solutions.

What do you hope to accomplish or is there something you have already achieved?
 I’ve achieved something I’ve always wanted: selling to other countries and being well recognized for what I do. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. My first goal is to improve even more my technique, this is the reason why I prefer to take some extra time with the commissions I have, if the result is going to be better. I also want to do a special summer offer of traditional portraits made with pastel pencils, and try new art programmes to investigate new effects. Finally, I’m considering filming tutorials for the ones who are interested in digital hyperrealism and doing a contest for my followers, where the prize will be an original drawing of their pet (or the animal they like). My purpose is to do all of this progressively, and I’ll be uploading all the info on my Instagram and Facebook (nataliaramon_art), so stay tuned!

Some answers were edited for length and clarity. All images are used with permission from the artist. Please do not re-post without permission.

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