We had the good fortune of connecting with Miguel Porlan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miguel, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
At the beginning of my career I was too much focused on working. Everything was harder to me so and my process was slower so I needed to spend a lot of time trying to do good work. As time goes by, I realized that working too much is counterproductive. Now I give more and more importance to rest and health. We are not machines. If your personal situation is not good it will be very difficult for your work to be so. I believe work gets better by working more but also by reading more, dancing more, traveling more, spending more time with your loved ones, eating better and resting enough.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I started to realize that most of my life would have to be spent working, it was then when I thought I must try to work on what I enjoy the most. Without a doubt, that was drawing. I started with graffiti, then I thought I would a comic artist and I have ended up being mainly an editorial illustrator. Drawing has always been the medium with which I have expressed myself most comfortably, but over time I have tried not to make it the only one. I understood that to illustrate means communicate with images. And the image field is very broad. I like to explore different graphic languages (i get bored if I don’t try new stuff) and in each project I try to find the tone that comes closest to my narrative intentions.
I feel very fortunate tome able to make a living from this job. Which I believe is not about creativity, is about work. As the Polish poster master Henryk Tomaszewski said: “A baker makes bread, a shoemaker makes shoes, and I make posters”. So I can say: I make illustrations because I don’t think I’m very good at making bread.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend already lives in the area but let’s imagine that this friend is a foreigner visiting for the first time. I think I would take her/him for a walk on the beach. I live in Vilanova i la Geltrú and lucky enough to be in a place five minutes walk from a beach where, for much of the year, there is no one except the seagulls. If the day was nice, we would swim in the sea for a while. Then we’d go to a bar in the fishing port for a vermouth and eat a big seafood rice (assuming she/he’s not vegan). The rest of the days we would keep relaxed and vary this same plan combining it with bike rides and outdoor dinners. On the weekend I would take her/him to a flea market or take the train to go to the Mercat de Sant Antoni in Barcelona and spend the Sunday morning digging for second hand books, comics and records. That sounds like a pretty good week to me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s hard to select a short list of people that had and have an influence in my life. Like if I was in an award ceremony speech, I would start by mentioning my family, that have always supported me when I told them I wanted to be an illustrator. I remember that in high school I had a teacher that always encouraged me to draw more and try my best. Her name is Laura Terré and I’m no longer in high school but I am still learning from her. What has always been in my life and has changed with me has been music. But if we talk about illustration, my first graphic influences where books and comic books. Later I discovered “ligne claire” artists like the Belgian Ever Meulen and he changed my way of drawing. In graphic design, there’s many I can mention and many books had taught me a lot about visual communication. But if I had to chose one name, I would say América Sánchez. He showed me a new way of understanding what’s graphic design and the importance of having your eyes and mind open. On the last years, I keep discovering artists and I’m specially fascinated by midcentury Czech illustrators and Japanese graphic designers. I’m just in love with many of the work they did