Artist interview: Marcela Restrepo

Our next interviewee is Marcela Restrepo, a proud left-hander who is represented by the Jacky Winter Group. Her style is unmistakable; her work has a loose sketchy tone that is enhanced by crisp colors added digitally.

UPDATE: Marcela wants to give Pikaland readers a treat – she’s offering a 15% discount for purchases made in her shop until the end of May. Just mention the magic word pikalandlovers during checkout!

Marcela Restrepo

Name: Marcela Restrepo
Location: Sydney, Australia
Illustration media: I do mostly pencil drawings and colour them in the computer with textures I create with different media.

Tell us a little more about yourself!
I was born and grew up in Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia, South America. I moved to Sydney in 2004 following my husband (then boyfriend) who came to Australia to do a masters in Sustainable Architecture.

Where do you live? What stands out about living where you are, and what is your daily schedule like?
I live in Erskineville, Sydney, it’s a nice suburb close to the city. It has plenty shops, restaurants, parks and a nice lifestyle. I like Sydney so much, it’s the perfect combination of city and nature. I still feel like a tourist and have fun easily walking around the city, going to a park or any of the many beaches.

My daily schedule… I wake up, shower and get ready. I start working around 8:30, checking email etc. As I am based in Australia I may wake up to some news and client responds when I’m working for other countries. Since I don’t even have to walk to work, I go to yoga three days a week. That is what resets me to come back to the desk and the bad posture.

I work all day but spend some time wondering around the fridge, I am eating all the time until night when Daniel comes back from work to cook me a nice dinner.

Marcela Restrepo

How did you get your start in illustration?
I started working on illustration by chance! I am a graphic designer but after years of working in graphic and web design I wanted a change. In 2007 I took a short course with Christopher Nielsen, a well-recognized Australian illustrator, where he showed us how the illustration market works and we did some exercises… I then realized I wanted to work as an illustrator, put together a portfolio of personal work and a couple of months later I had an agent and started taking jobs.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
When I start drawing, I have a clear idea of what I want. I basically sketch in my head and then start drawing serious. Sometimes ideas change in the process of drawing but it’s always for good!
For editorial jobs I work on some ideas after reading the article. I make roughs of different ways of showing the message and then develop the one chosen by the client. Basically clean the lines, and add details and colour.

Marcela Restrepo

What’s your favorite project so far?
Mmmm…..I don’t have a favorite project. I like from the editorial jobs that they take just a couple of days so I don’t have time to get tired of it and also don’t have to wait long to see it printed and published. Having said that, I enjoy working for advertising and publishing just as much because I get the opportunity to try different things and see my work on different formats.

It’s nice when I finish an illustration and even weeks later, when I look at it I’m not thinking I would have done something in a different way; that doesn’t happen very often. I like a job where the client comes back with changes and gives me the chance to improve the result a bit. I don’t underestimate the client’s and art director’s feedback.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?

Marcela Restrepo

Marcela Restrepo

Marcela Restrepo

I do have a sketchbook but most of the time I draw in loose pieces of paper. I now have tons of papers! I take my sketchbook when I go out but I never end up drawing anything. I always get great ideas from walking around the city, from watching people and going to places, so I take notes of those ideas to then do some research and make them into drawings in my desktop, I feel more comfortable working like that.

Would you care to share your studio space as well?

Marcela Restrepo

I know we always dream about illustrators working in amazing warehouses converted into studios, with big windows and nice furniture. However that’s not my case! At the moment I am working in a very small space… I hope to be working on larger format soon.

What or who inspires you?
All the great ones in this business inspire me but also do my fellow illustrator friends. Traveling is great for fresh ideas but I also find my tropical country Colombia and Sydney very inspiring. I love sustainable architecture (it’s Daniel’s fault); Watching people and guessing their lives. I like those European and Latin American movies about normal people. Love music/performances like Laurie Anderson’s; books, trees and nature.. so many things. I suppose that mostly I try to be grateful and find beauty on what surrounds me. However I do feel lost many times and just have to wait for inspiration to come to me. And I do complaint quite a bit.

What keeps you motivated?
To know I can get better at what I do motivates me. Other people’s work makes me want to produce my own work. Also to Skype with my family motivates me and as I have said before, chocolate keeps me sane!

Marcela Restrepo

What’s your favourite tool?
F, HB, 2B and 3B pencils and also the wacom.

Are you a full-time artist?
I don’t feel that confident to say I am an ’artist’ but yes I work full-time as an illustrator. I started working part time in illustration while working part-time as a designer in a studio but it got to a point that I was getting enough commissions and I couldn’t keep doing both jobs so I quit the Design Studio. They are still good friends of mine though!

Marcela Restrepo

What advice would you like to give people who are interested in being an artist full-time?
I don’t feel I have that much experience to give advice but what is working to me is to work hard, don’t rash into things and take time to improve the craft. Put together a portfolio and keep working on personal projects as a lot of work comes from those.

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
I have had so many changes and surprises in the past few years that I have no idea where this will take me. I would like to keep drawing and evolve my language. Hopefully I will be in a nice place/situation.

Marcela Restrepo

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I think work should talk for itself. I love the good feedback and people to identify with my work but I am not good at trying to sell it. I think my drawings and I think the message is simple and it’s about everyday life.

Tell us something random about yourself!
Usually while working, I would stop for a few minutes every now and then to perform one of my extravagant dance choreographies from salsa all the way to Punk Rock. Of course no one is watching!


I’m going to take the weekend off a little earlier this week to recuperate from a bad bout of flu. I’ll spot you all next week, and if you’d like to keep yourself busy (and inspired at the same time) how about reading the other illustrators whom we have interviewed so far?


16 thoughts on “Artist interview: Marcela Restrepo

  1. i also thank you for this interview, amy + marcela! i am always interested in how other people think + work! y’all are great! karengenie

  2. Thanks for sharing this interview…I LOVE getting insight into people who are living and following their dream…so inspiring. I love her chair art work…beautiful.

  3. Marcelas work is beautiful and she is one talented lady. She is also my best friend in Sydney and I wouldnt be able to do without her. And her chocolate stash.

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