Our second interview highlights Delaware illustrator/printmaker/jane-of-all-trades Bonaia Rosado!
So, Delaware things: have you always lived in Delaware? If not, what brought you here?
I grew up in Quebradilla, Puerto Rico while my dad was stationed in Japan. When he came back, I was about 10, we moved with him to California. Moved around quite a bit and we ended up in Delaware.
In addition to being an illustrator, you also sew. What attracted you to sewing and how do you incorporate it into your work?
Sewing has a character to it. My aunt made us Cabbage Patch dolls, my mom made us outfits, which, looking back at photos now were scary, my grandmother sewed the lace on her bathroom towels, etc. it was just more prevalent growing up. Hand sewn items feel more… just real, more cared for. When something’s manufactured you can tell right away and it feels cold and generic. That idea influences a lot of my work.
Do you work in other areas, aside from illustration and sewing?
Yeah, I try to. I screen print, I do a lot of sewing for my online shop, at some point I was doing a lot of freelance work for comic book companies. Digitally coloring comic book pages or children’s graphic novels. I’m working on my inking skills right now. Trying to be like the old school guys in the comic book world. Sharp lines with smooth edges only using brushes and nibs. None of the Photoshop stuff you have nowadays.
Your pieces in last year’s Fun-A-Day show featured your daughter. Has she influenced your work? Will your work this year feature family again, in some way?
Aw man, she’s been such a big impact. Having a kid gives you a whole new perspective on people. If she’s being a jerk that day it’s for a reason, if she’s being extra needy it’s for a reason, if she’s giggly that day it because she’s feeling something. I apply that same reasoning with everyone I meet. People are either scared, upset, happy or whatever in their life and because of that they can be kind or mean or flaky. Knowing that off the bat makes me take more interest in people and drawing them. Portraits are a big theme for me right now.
This year I’m actually going to make work with my daughter. She’s three years old. It’s going to be mixed media. I’m using some techniques some of my favorite children’s illustrators use. Eric Carle, Ed Emberly and Mary Blair are some of them. It’s exciting.
What did you enjoy about last year’s project? What challenged you?
It was great! There was no question as to what I had to make everyday. Working with the same idea everyday is great. I had to figure out different compositions, different ideas on the same piece of paper, same material every day. It pushed me.
I’ve noticed that you tend to work with very warm colours in your work. What draws you to this particular palate?
The palette used in children’s books and an assortment of fashion in the 40’s-80’s have influenced me greatly. I collect imagery and try to submerse myself via the internet, greatest tool for reference, with things from those times. Cartoons, sweaters, kids toys, posters or advertisements. All of that influences me.
Many of your pieces are portraits – can you tell us about some of your subjects? Are they real or invented?
A lot of my portraits are real people I know. My style is basically line work. People are made up of lines in my head. Plump, straight, round, angular all different lines. If I don’t know the person in my portrait I come up with my own background for them. Why are their frown lines so deep, why are their ear lobes so stretched out, why does this man never stop smiling, and in trying to answer those questions you come up with a whole new narrative of who they are or what they’ve done. It’s fun either knowing a persons story or writing it yourself.
I understand you have a number of projects and events in the works right now. Can you share some of those plans with us?
Right now I’m collaborating with a great friend/fellow artist Bondé Prang. She works for House Industries and she’s an amazing designer. We’re opening an online boutique later on this year called Bonde y Bonaia. I’m also working on a portrait series called “Familia” for a group Exhibit for the Chris White Gallery in August. The group is made up of some amazing local artists. Really excited for that show.