Sarah Gonzales is a Filipino artist born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Canada. She graduated from ACAD, focusing in illustration & design. She lives in Montreal working on editorial and narrative illustration and visual development. A few of her clients include: Penguin Random House, The Intercept, Wired, NPR, Sony, and Square Enix.
Sarah provided the illustration for the October 21th story “Promise My This is Ours,” by Omar William Sow.
How did you become an illustrator?
I've been drawing ever since I could remember and I never stopped. After graduating High School and choosing between Bio Science or Art & Design, I went with my gut and chose my passion and went to art school. From there I discovered illustration through taking intensive Visual Communication Design courses. Although there was initial push back from my family that all work in Healthcare, I wouldn't be the illustrator I am today if it weren't for their loving support and dedication to hard work.
I love illustrating portraits. There's something surreal in the subtleties in people's faces.
How was the experience of creating a cover for Carlos Bulosan’s “America Is in the Heart”?
Working with Penguin Random House on a classics cover was a dream project. The opportunity to work with them on an important piece of Filipino literature, made for a meaningful process as a Filipino artist. Fun fact: I worked on the book cover during an artist residency in Japan and scanned the final line art at a Seven Eleven scan and print machine.
You illustrated several articles, and now a short story. What is the shift from non-fiction and autobiography to speculative fiction?
With speculative fiction, you can really get into the realm of imagination that a writer's words can take you to. With any narrative, I like to show the reader a different perspective that stems from the story but also goes beyond the words with a sense of wonder and mystery.
What is the process behind your work?
Regardless of the project, personal or for a client, I generally like to start off with word mapping, collecting references and creating mood boards. From there I roughly sketch out ideas and use the original sketch as a base and build layers upon it. Although I like designing thumbnails and exploring multiple concepts, I also like to keep the rendering and layering process organic and intuitive.
Tell me what would be your dream project with art – your wildest idea.
Good question. At the moment, the first thing that comes to mind is illustrating a Filipino restaurant menu or illustrating a family recipe book. It’s nothing super wild but it would be loads of fun.
In your personal illustrations, do you usually invent characters, or do you prefer self-portraits and fan art like the one you did for Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai?
I enjoy it all! A lot of the time the subject matter depends on my mood, or my experiences and emotional connections. Sometimes it’s as simple as watching a great film or people watching on the train.
Any project you would like to share with us?
I'm currently working on a project about my childhood experiences with my grandpa from the time we first immigrated to Canada.