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An interview with Karla Alcazar Martinez

For Karla Alcazar Martinez, the creative community at NUA and on the BA (Hons) Illustration course gave her the tools to pursue her creative future and confidence to believe in herself and her work.

How have you changed since starting the course?

I’m way more confident. When I first arrived here it was hard for me to show work to people. They were like: “Why are you doing this if you don’t really want to show it to anyone?” It’s been quite a painful journey. I’m not exactly the Queen of Confidence, but now I feel more comfortable talking to people about my work. The tutors always encourage me to be a bit more confident: “Just put yourself out there,” “Just keep working,” “Don’t be afraid of rejection” They do see the potential in each and every one of us. And that’s really cool.

How do you define success?

Success is communicating what you want to say and people receiving it. Some people are going to like it and some people are not, but the message is getting out there. Money has nothing to do with it. It’s more about feeling proud of what you’ve done. What is success? That’s an important question to keep in mind.

How would you define Illustration as a creative discipline?

Illustration is a mixture of graphic design and fine art. At the end of the day you’re producing commercial work. Although I don’t know much about fine art, it’s more about the work itself and not the commercial side of it. Art has the freedom of being art for art’s sake. Illustration doesn’t have that freedom; it has to fit into a context. In certain ways we’re more restricted. It works for me. If I have too much freedom, it’s like: “What am I going to do with this? I’d better not do anything.”

What will you exhibit for the annual Degree Show?

I have made a series of three books. I’m really happy with the final book. It’s what I always wanted to do but never felt good enough to finish. I’ve put everything I’ve learned into practice and that’s why I’m so proud. I actually did it! I did it to prove to myself that I could. If people like it then that’s a plus.

I have received lots of feedback from my tutors and people on my course. Without that feedback that book wouldn’t be here.

I used traditional media – old school markers and pencils. It’s nice to get your hands dirty, to get ink all over the place and have your clothes stained. I’ve been like that since I was a kid. I had my little stash of art supplies and I was always in the back garden drawing. I still feel like an eight year old (in the body of a 28 year old) who loves drawing.

Who has inspired you?

I love Isabelle Arsenault, Jen Corace and Gemma Corell (an NUA graduate). Gemma is really nice as well. And Freda Kahlo is also a favourite. She’s an amazing artist. I think that when you see one of her paintings it feels like the painting is talking to you. It’s really powerful!

What inspires your work?

At the moment I want to tell stories of my own. I think that’s okay, but at some point that may change and I’ll be more interested in the world around me (maybe when I get to see more of it). At the moment I want to say what I have to say about things.

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