Creativity, technical skills and an undying love for fashion are the heart and soul of Arturo Elena’s work. The Spanish illustrator, hailing from Teruel, realized that art would be in his cards at a very early age.
Elena truly lives and breathes design: as a self-taught artist, over the years he experimented, invented and played with shapes and colors until he created the signature style he is identified with today. His main sources of inspiration are fashion illustrators René Granau and Stefano Canulli, whom he looks up to as models for sharpening his own artistic techniques.
After attending the Design Institute of Barcelona, Elena carried out several creative projects for fashion and design brands. His first major work dates back to 1992, when he was entrusted by Sevilla-based house Victorio & Lucchino with the illustration project for Carmen, the brand’s flagship fragrance.
His career took off from there. He started collaborations with leading fashion magazines, such as Cosmopolitan Spain, Elle, Telva, Mujer Hoy and Yo Dona. Very soon, he gained attention from international brands.
Success landed him in Madrid, at the European Institute of Design, where he taught design methods and techniques and gave rise to a veritable school of thought in the field of graphic design.
Elena’s pictures, made strictly by hand, draw inspiration from the world of fashion. His women, his main subjects, are bona fide fashion queens: elegant, haughty and almost out of reach. His style features elongated though harmonic figures conveying movement and feeling.
His accurate depiction of light reminds of classic artists Diego Velazquez, El Greco and Anton Raphael Mengs. Attention to detail, an ability to reproduce the texture of fabric, shine and the use of color make his women so real and intense. These are the very characteristics of his creations for the United Colors of Benetton.
Following our collaboration, we wanted to get to know Arturo better – the man, the artist, his interests, and how his images are born. Here’s our interview with him:
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
As an illustrator, I work upon request. Therefore, I am sometimes limited in my projects.
The bulk of my inspiration comes from meetings with clients and their proposals, as well as from the brand’s image and philosophy. Nevertheless, I always add my personal touch, through my taste and passions, such as fashion photographs, art books, and cinema.
What led you to work with Benetton?
I would never turn a client away, especially if I feel the brand is a good match with my way of working. That is exactly the case with Benetton, which is a b globally recognizable brand. I believe that this project is a positive undertaking for us both.
What is the fun part of your job?
It is a great privilege to work with my passions – illustration and fashion – and I’ve loved every single project I have created. What gives me most joy is providing my clients with what they are looking for. A happy customer is the greatest professional satisfaction I can get.
Did you always want to be an illustrator or did it just happen?
Even as a kid, I liked to draw, but only in my teenage years did I take an interest in fashion. Becoming an illustrator was not in my plans, it just went that way after I finished studying.
I wanted to work in fashion, so I started out as an assistant designer for some Spanish brands, but it was my drawing talent that brought me my first job as an illustrator. Other projects followed soon after, and I realized it was more satisfying to depict what other designers wanted to create. That is when I decided to become a full-time illustrator.
Find out more about Arturo Elena