"It's never going to be the perfect time to do it. You have to try and see what happens"
We speak to Ro Ledesma, the illustrator of our Fanzine Book Day Edition. Although she has Galician roots, she’s been living in Barcelona for a few years. She came here after abandoning the world of advertising to fully engage in her real passion: illustration. Her drawings are full of freshness and spontaneity, and they have a naive touch for which we have fallen from the beginning.
When did you decide to abandon advertising to work in illustration?
Actually, I didn’t last long in there. I was working as the Art Director in a multinational agency for just over a year, and I wasn’t happy at all. Helping large brands to sell more, increasing the consumerism… It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t my thing. From theory to reality there is a big gap, and sometimes you need to try something to know that it’s not for you. I was lucky because I did know what I liked: drawing. I decided not to waste time and throw myself into it.
What would your advice be for someone that is not too sure about venturing into this profession?
That it’s never going to be the perfect time to do it. You have to get your feet wet and see what happens. If things go wrong, you can always dry them for a while, and, if you feel like it, getting them wet again. It’s also not a bad idea to split your time between a part-time job and your creative projects. Especially when you are starting.
This is a very competitive sector, what would you say is essential in an illustrator?
Doing things. Acting instead of waiting.
"I came to Barcelona 4 years ago to study illustration at the Escola Massana, and I stayed. I had been in Barcelona lots of times, but it was only when I lived here when I noticed the synergy of the city, both creatively and culturally speaking. There are lots of people really eager to create. And that passes on. You have to see it as something positive instead of as competitiveness".
Recently, you have also started to create under an alter ego: Outra. Tell us more!
Most of my paid projects are of editorial or commercial nature, and I had been accumulating ideas for a long time that were far away from that world. I thought it would be right to separate sides. With “Outra” I want to express myself further. I want to cover subjects I’m interested in: social stigma, mental health, environmental empathy, intimacy… and show them to the audience through the language I speak best: illustration.
What are your influences?
I am inspired by and I admire a lot of artists. Here you have a small list: Oliver Jeffers, Helena Covell, Aurélie Guillerey, Sempè, Levi Jacobs, Steffie Brocoli, Remy Charlip… There’s a little bit of everything. I could tell you a hundred more.
We’ve seen that you also adventure with murals, tell us a bit about how did you start this.
I was really looking forward to trying, and in September 2018 my friend Maria Rodilla invited me to paint with her a 10-meter mural in an abandoned tennis court in Valencia. I got hooked. Really hooked.
How was the experience of illustrating the Bacoa Fanzine?
Very good! I had absolute creative freedom and that allowed me to really enjoy throughout the process. Doing what you want and how you want it is the best thing that can happen when you have a new project.