When in Rome…

It was a case of love at first sight when we came across the illustrations of Argentinean María Luque, and we knew in an instant that we wanted to work with her. The first collaboration was the current edition of our Flow Holiday Special (which is only available in Dutch) and we’re delighted with it. María is temporarily living in Rome, Italy, and here we find out what she is up to.

She may well illustrate, but María Luque does not want to label herself as an illustrator. “It makes it sound like I only create illustrations on commission, but I also enjoy working on a variety of personal projects. In Spanish, I call myself a dibujante, which is a kind of cartoonist or draughtsman who makes illustrations, commissioned work and graphic novels.”

What was it like to make the illustrations for the Flow Holiday Special?
“Really funny, because I couldn’t understand the Dutch text. But I managed, thanks to the help of Google translate, my gut feelings and the editor’s advice. I’ve really wanted to have my work featured in Flow, and now—with this first collaboration—my wish came true.”

Can you tell us something about your drawing process?
“Sometimes, if I am not completely satisfied with the end result, I prefer to throw the illustration away and start again because I know what didn’t work the first time round. But it is important not to let yourself be put off by such setbacks. For example, recently I was drawing in my sketchbook and the picture was really taking shape, but then I made a mistake. I thought I had ruined a beautiful sketchbook, but I looked at the illustration again and drew a vase over that ‘fatal error’, which, on closer inspection, was just a minor problem.”

What motivates you?
“I love the fact that everything I think up can be created on paper. Sometimes I simply draw what I really feel like drawing and then, later, it becomes something more. What I also like about my work is how time passes. When I’m not drawing, my days sometimes seem to drag. I do like to do other things, too, like cooking, walking, getting together with friends or kissing. But only when I draw, do I feel that time stands still in some way.”

Does the idea for an illustration gradually come about as you work, or do you plan first?
“When I start, I already know if the drawing will succeed. I work fairly quickly and never make sketches. I like to work intuitively—so that it’s almost as if my hands are putting something on paper themselves as opposed to me stopping at every movement. I like going to a café or library to work; I listen to the conversations being had around me and look out the window at the people passing by.”

What’s it like living in Rome?
“I am here to make a book. It’s a book of short stories about painters, as opposed to a graphic novel. I’ve rented a room for three months and have joined the library. There are lots of public libraries here and every day I choose one to work from. My plan is to create a page every day and so far, it’s working perfectly. When I finish my page, I go for a long walk and eat ice cream.”

To find out more about María and see her work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Illustration María Luque, Photography Agustina Zabala