Interview by Javier Melian for www.thepalettepages.com
I am Javier Melian (@jmelianuk on Twitter), a London based art lover that shares street art and outsider art in social media.
I have known Victor Soler for a few years now. I kind of ‘pushed’ him into a friendship as I approached him online one time, out of the blue. I just said I really loved his work and that it would be a real pleasure to meet him in person. He lived in Madrid and I was in London. He must have thought “who is this nutter!” but as we have good friends in common he probably realised there had to be some sanity in me after all, and replied. We had a few chats about art, comics and illustration. He loves what he does and I love what he does hence we had a lot to talk already. Ever since, every time I’ve been to Madrid and he’s been to London we meet up, along with some other fantastic common friends.
He was born in Castellón, Spain, in 1971, and studied in Fine Arts at the University of Valencia. He started his career there as cartoonist for various films and television series. He recalls “At a time when there were no illustration studios around, the best schools were cartoons” hence he stayed in Valencia working on animation and film production. He even worked on a Disney series. Those were years of hard work, dedication, and long painful hours. He learned how to narrate a story in sequences, storyboards, illustration, until 2005 when he decided to move to Madrid, portfolio in hand, but with almost no money in his pocket.
Despite his little savings, Victor quickly made a name for himself as press and magazine illustrator, also working for advertising companies in big accounts such as Telefónica, Nestlé, Red Cross, etc. The main publishing companies in Spain used him for all sorts of books including children’s.
Suddenly, the idea of super-size illustrations came about as he looked for high quality materials to start taking sporadic orders from clients that he worked on in a small attic. Whilst looking for a space commensurate with the size of the works he wanted to do, he was commissioned a four-meter mural to decorate a popular graphic novel store in the centre of Madrid. The mural attracted a lot of attention of passers by , and orders started to flog. There was also a huge demand for the numerous sketches that are part of the production process.
Today his work is shown in the most exclusive galleries in Spain. His current exhibition is now at the Cibeles Palace in Madrid until 31st August and has received accolades of excellent press reviews.
Self taught or art school?
Self-taught in everything related to digital painting. Since childhood l have painted with oil and pastels. I used to do portraits. I studied Fine Arts, but the best school I’ve ever had has been the 15 years as a cartoonist in animation studios.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
I would own many from some painters, but I think those are better in a museum. I’d settle for an original drawing of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo. Each and every one of his cartoons seem a work of art.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t like labels, but I would like to say that I consider myself a draftsman, an illustrator who likes to tell stories with his drawings.
What are your favourite places to view art?
Many. Of course the museums (especially the classic painting ones like Prado and Louvre). A good bookstore specialized in graphic novel. I like to lose myself on those places and whenever I can, I buy books on illustrators, cartoonists or photographers. I also like watching street artists. I could spend hours watching them doing a portrait or a good street art job. I think art can be found in every corner and sometimes where you least expect it.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
I could tell you hundreds of names, from great painters, cartoonists, illustrators and animation artists. Mostly I like those that narrate stories with their drawings because they are great storytellers and great artists. To name some … Alan Lee, Norman Rockwell, Winsor McCay, Alex Raymond.
What or who inspires your art?
I am motivated by the desire to be become a little bit better every time, and in order to gain motivation and inspiration I need increasing levels of peace and quiet.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
For years I have been working in a specialized bookstore (The Comic Book Co.). My drawing board was installed in one of the best places in the store, in the corner next to the window, in Malasaña, Madrid. Now, as I said before, every time I need more tranquillity and I’m setting up small studio in Palma de Mallorca, near the sea, where I intend to resume oil painting. Alternating between the two sites would be ideal.
Do you have any studio rituals?
(Ha ha ha). Yes, tidiness, a good chair, good lighting and music, I always work with music.
What are you working on currently?
I’m on several projects at the time: my current exhibition “what cinema didn’t show me” is moving to the Alcala de Henares Film Festival in November. I am also a doing a mural called “Museum” on an imaginary museum at a time and place lost in time; a commission on the legendary pilot ‘Red Baron’ and preparing a collection of paintings to be called “Legends on Wheels”. When I have the time I take on children’s illustration. The truth is that I don’t stop….
What are your ambitions?
At the moment I am achieving one of them, which is to make a peaceful living doing what I love. The other one is more romantic: seeing that my work inspires some kid to draw and follow this difficult but wonderful profession that is illustration. That would make me very happy.