ITW : In the photo albums of Elisa Munso
Elisa Munso is a young Spanish graduate from the Beaux-Arts of Barcelona. For a few years now, she has been working on photographs bought at market stalls, found in the street or borrowed from her family. She decontextualizes these photos to bring out the figures, their poses and their expressions. The little details of every day life, which she tries to transcribe in her work, are incredibly important to her. Elisa found out about Olow by chance, after having fallen in love with one of Jean Jullien’s t-shirts he did for our 2015 Spring/Summer collection. When we subsequently contacted her, a collaboration was obvious. She had never worked with textiles before, but wants to “continue using that technique”.
You managed to turn your passion into your job after having graduated from the Beaux Arts in Barcelona a few years back. We’d like to talk about your artistic process, which really is quite unique. How did you come up with the idea of drawing from old forgotten photographs?
I really don’t remember when or how I came to start drawing from photographs. Obviously I didn’t always use photos, but a picture that I found must have somehow struck me and made me want to try to reproduce it with my pen.
You regularly create illustrations that have nothing to do with the original photographs, which end up being completely decontextualized. Why do you like changing reality?
I just play with decontextualization to change the things around; maybe instead of putting it in front of a monument, it’s in front of a nuclear reactor! What I care about is the pose or what the characters want to say; I play around with the clothes, hairstyles, etc.
Where do you find these photos? Do you know their true stories, or are they “stolen photos” whose history you are unaware of?
There are photographs that I bought in markets such as Encants Barcelona, or some that I found on the street and picked up without noticing. There are photos of my family as well!
Your drawings illustrate everyday life. What do you find fascinating about daily life?
Life is made of small things! It’s the small details that are important… and I like to remember them.
Apparently, you keep little notebooks that you carry around with you everywhere. What could we see in them?
Many things! Things that have happened during the day, things I’ve seen on the street, many ideas for projects and stupid drawings that are absolutely useless!
There is a lot of black and white in your illustrations. What does it bring to them? Is it a reminder of the original photo?
It’s just that I have always felt very comfortable drawing in black; I don’t need more than the outline to say something. But I have no problem using color if necessary, anything can happen!
Can you talk to us about one or two photos that particularly left a mark on you?
It was not just a photo, it was a whole box of photos of a family. There were photos of a little girl in the day of her baptism until her wedding day! I felt a little worried, it was a family’s entire life! So I decided to make an exhibition for them: Family holidays.
You launched your independent publishing house El Diluvio Universal. Can you explain its concept?
At first, El Universal Universal was a house for self-published prints. Now, it’s also a studio of illustration and graphic design, and a small gallery in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona.
You’ve also created a few videos. What was the switch from illustration to animation like?
In fact, the ‘videos’ are small ‘gif’ made without any intention, just to see! I wish I could animate my drawings and create animations, but it takes a lot of dedication and time!
Why choose to collaborate with OLOW? Had you already worked with textile before?
Because to collaborate with a brand like OLOW is a pleasure! I became aware of the brand this summer, and I fell in love with a t-shirt by Jean Jullien, and then they wrote to me! A fantastic coincidence! I had never collaborated before with a textile brand, but it’s always something I wanted to do, illustrations for clothing! It will happen one day!
What are your future projects? Will we be able to admire your illustrations in France or Spain in the coming months?
Right now I’m working on many projects, one of which is a children’s book! A real challenge for me! I hope it comes out in France!