Introducing Valero Doval

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Introducing Valero Doval

We recently announced that artist and illustrator Valero Doval is now being represented by Breed. Working primarily in collage mixed with hand-drawn elements, he has collaborated with clients including The Guardian, Google, IKEA and Wallpaper*.

We thought it might be an idea for us to furnish Valero with a few questions to allow him to introduce himself in his own words:

What prompted your move from Valencia to London?

I studied Fine Arts in Valencia and got a grant to finish the last year of the degree in Barcelona. After my graduation in the early 2000s, I started to work as a graphic designer and had a lively mid-twenties life in Barcelona for over two years.

Then, one of my best friends met his girlfriend, who was from Oxford, and we decided to spend New Year’s Eve in London that year… so we flew to the city.London was love at first sight, there were lots of things happening and it was very exciting… but there was something missing and something I couldn’t do very well – speaking English!

I’d always been very bad at English at school, so I couldn’t really communicate very well with the people we met in London. It was a great trip, but it was very frustrating at the same time.

Then, three months later, I decided to move to the city to properly learn the language. That was a really big change and another long story…

What was your earliest experience of creating illustrations?

The first memory I have, when I was little, maybe six or seven years old, was drawing the characters from children’s books. I had an ability to replicate them exactly as they were in the book.  I clearly remember drawing the illustrations from Aladdin and the Magic Lamp or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. 

Were you a frequent visitor to galleries from a young age?

I was very interested in art from a young age. I was born in a little rural village and there was not much happening at the time… but I remember going to shows from local artists that happened only once or twice a year.

I was very fond of interior design, too. One thing I used to do when young was buy interior design magazines every week and, apart from dreaming as I looked at the amazing interiors and decor, I was always checking the paintings and artworks that were featured as part of the interior editorials. This got me very inspired every week and I started painting canvases from a young age, too.

Then, when I was a bit more grown up, I went to the city by myself to attend bigger shows when I had a chance, really enjoying the experience of the exhibition as much as spending some time in a bigger city.

Did you always know you’d be a practicing illustrator one day?

I always liked all sorts of arts and crafts and I was always doing something related to making art … but never had an idea I’d be a practising illustrator one day. I remember family members encouraging me to go and work for Disney from a very young age, as it seemed I used to draw every one of the characters very well.

What attracted you to using collage, as well as graphics,  in your work?

I always loved drawing. It’s something very straightforward, pure and personal. I fell in love with printmaking/etching at university and my work used to be more drawing-like.

I started with collage a couple of years before graduating, after a friend gave me some Japanese newspapers and magazines as a present. I instantly got very attracted to all the fancy, colourful shapes that had no meaning for me. I got very inspired and wanted to do something with them, so I started cutting, gluing and mixing them, giving them a new significance. I fell in love with collage then.

When I moved to London, I came across lots of vintage books at charity shops and car boot sales, and they’ve influenced my more vintage work ever since.

Working with collage, both handmade and digital, has always been something very natural. Not sure whether I chose collage or collage chose me.

Who have been your greatest artistic inspirations?

I grew up surrounded by nature and my main subject of inspiration has always been the natural world. I guess it’s been instinctive. Spanish surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Joan Miró have been very inspiring artists for  me since an early age.

How did you first break through into making a living from your artistic skills?

In my fourth year at university, I won an internship at a multimedia and web-design company where I worked as a graphic designer and also learned to design websites. That’s how I broke through into make a living from my skills. I stayed a couple of years there and kept working as a graphic and web designer until I became a professional illustrator.

You took a pause from being represented and now you’re back to being represented. Can you tell us what was behind these decisions?

I was represented for many years by the same agent in London, since I started as a professional illustrator, in fact. Then she moved to Sweden and opened her own agency, which had a great roster of artists from all around Europe and was going very well. One day, she wrote to tell us all that she was closing down the agency – she’d become a mother and wanted to follow a different path.

By that time I had lots of commissions, practically full-time working and also had a business with my partner. My schedule was so tight for the following years that I didn’t think of reaching out to any other agency… until Breed London approached me this year. I really liked the range of artists and styles they represent, and I saw myself fitting in, so took this opportunity to fuel my creative fires with new challenges and to push my previous boundaries.

How do you describe what you do for a living to someone you meet for the first time?

I would say: “I work as an illustrator.” Then, if people don’t work in the creative industry, they always ask me, “What is an illustrator? What do you do precisely?”. And then I would answer, “Have you noticed in newspapers and magazine articles there are always drawings and/or illustrations? So that’s what I do. When they cannot use photography to visualise subject matter, they hire an illustrator. I also make book and album covers, as well as product packaging, if that makes sense”.

Do you have any dream clients you’d like to work for?

My dream clients are those that strive to be ethically responsible, create meaningful content or beautiful things… and work hard to mitigate their impact on the environment whenever possible. I think humanity and nature are not separate and we must see them as one.

What have you got lined up in the future?

Several pieces of my work have just been featured in a new publication by Taschen – Plant Magick – a book that celebrates the magic of the natural realm, the symbolism, ceremony, and our ritual relationships with the botanical world. This is very exciting and encourages me to work on more personal work. I’d like to spend some time exploring new concepts and see where they lead.

I have so many ideas that I always say I would need several lives to be able to accomplish all of them.

Can you tell us what your favourite commissions have been in recent years, as well as your favourite personal projects?

I really enjoy working on commissions where I can also learn something new. I have a regular editorial client where I have to illustrate articles that talk about human resources, and I learned so many concepts and new ways of thinking from that, which I can apply to my everyday life. And the same with a few podcasts I’ve worked for, that talk about meditation and emotions. I find this very satisfying.

And for a good balance, I have to say I also like creating illustrations that are merely decorative or for the sake of visual pleasure. I think those are very important, as they speak directly to the soul of the viewer.

My favourite recent personal projects have been the ‘Boundaries’ Series, that was made in London in that time when we had to stay indoors looking through the window while the spring was blooming at its fullest. Or the ‘Florescence’ series, that talks about a reconnection with nature, Mother Earth, love and rebirth.

His portfolios can be viewed here.