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.
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.