Interview by Melanie Reim
USK correspondent (NYC) [blog]
In amongst the fast paced, high-energy and high-volume Latin metropolis of Santo Domingo, there works a soft-spoken illustrator with an easy smile. But don’t let this catch you off guard. This young woman is a powerhouse draftsman with a keen eye for composition and a written word that perfectly complements her beautiful linear observations of life around her. I've had the opportunity to meet her in person during trips to the Dominican Republic and look forward to her upcoming exhibit, which opens Tuesday at Alianza Francesa in Santo Domingo. Here's Nathalie Ramirez.
You are a young, vibrant, emerging artist and illustrator, on the verge of your first exhibition. Congratulations! Can you speak a little about how you came to shape the idea for your show?
Funnily enough, one of my biggest priorities in this particular show was to stay out of the creative process as much as possible, so to speak, and just let things flow out of me as they wished to. So in a way, the idea for the show shaped itself as I went along with it.
I'm not used to working in this particular way, since during my training as an illustrator I was taught to thumbnail and plan out my drawings beforehand. This time I decided to plunge into the opposite side of the spectrum and just let things come as they wanted, and when they wanted. This wasn't always easy since patience and a very open mind are needed for these exercises, but it has helped me be less judging and more allowing with myself as an artist. All in all it has been an intense and gratifying learning experience for me.
You live and work in two worlds, so to speak — a life in a bustling city, and access to a tropical paradise, where you also went to school. Please tell us how these worlds influence your work on location and what it is that attracts you to draw in the two different environments- and if you could, how do those that you draw react to you working from observation?
Actually, I mostly stay in the city and only visit Chavon (my old art school) a few times in the year. But I must say that each environment affects me in a totally different way. Santo Domingo is a loud, boisterous city, along with its loud, boisterous inhabitants, that as I had once mentioned in a paragraph for Urban Sketchers, aren't shy of coming up to you and giving you the ol' crit' at the top of their lungs. I've had to learn to deal with this, since drawing is such an intimate part of me, it's almost like learning how to stand naked in a street and not be fazed by the loud comments thrown your way! To be completely honest, I'm a little tired of drawing in this city, although there are characters galore, but I feel it's time to expand my horizons elsewhere for a bit.
As far as Chavon goes, when I do go there I always take in a deep, deep breath and marvel at the beauty of that place. When I'm there I feel a little dazed with the breeze, the trees, the bright blue sky. It gives me a chance to sit back, relax and take the place in as I draw. I guess there lies the biggest difference of the two places when I draw. In Chavon I can more easily relax and let go, while in the city I have to keep my guard up, to an extent.
How does drawing on location fit into how you create your art? Does it exist in its pure form, and/or does it function as a precursor for other work?
Drawing on location is the backbone of everything I do. There is a live energy that exists in work done on the spot that becomes a part of you as an artist and it shows up in everything else you might do, be it a collage, an animation, a made up character... anything! I'm really happy I got a chance to train in reportage drawing, since it has made my observation more keen, my hand faster and my confidence as a designer and draftsperson climb slowly but surely. Being a reportage artist is more than a training, it's a lifestyle that not only affects the visual arts part of my life, but everything else. It's a tool I treasure and plan to keep on honing for the rest of my life.
• Nathalie's blog.
• Nathalie's art on flickr.
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