Interview with Jeca Martinez
Jeca Martinez creates charmingly colorful illustration that move. I discovered her work a few years ago while hunting for illustrators who create electronic greeting cards. I was immediately taken by her sophisticated eye for design and clever ability to create transfixing looping animations. I'm so pleased to share this interview with Martinez where she discusses her identity as an illustrator/animator, her role producing eCards at Hallmark, and what the future might bring for illustrators.
You describe yourself as an animator and illustrator. Please tell us a little bit about what makes your work unique.
Martinez: When I do my bio, I always describe myself as “an animator and illustrator for creative companies looking to add a touch of unicorn rainbow happiness to their projects”. My art and animation are very playful, whimsical, colorful, and a bit child-like, and I think this is the unique flair that I have with my work.
Animation and illustration have historically been two very different marketplaces, but advances in digital technology seem to be pushing them together. What makes an illustrator different from an animator? Is the separation meaningful?
Martinez: For me illustrators are those who create imagery in order to convey a particular story, or evoke a certain emotion in viewers, or serve a specific purpose (taking into consideration the mood, story, or context of the project). Meanwhile animators are those who can bring characters, objects, or any kind of imagery to life through motion. I think it boils down to the artist if they just want to focus on either illustration, or animation, or both, because each field has its own skillset that a person would need to work on. However nowadays I feel like it would be helpful for any artist to be able to diversify their skills so that they can play more with their art, or they can provide more for their clients.
I discovered your work a few years ago because of your animated greeting cards. Can you tell us about the experience working with Hallmark? What is the process like creating an animated greeting card?
Martinez: Well initially I was browsing through their website because I love the variety of creative art styles, and how each animated greeting card can tell a story in such a short amount of time. It was like Netflix for me at that time because I was just entertained watching all these different eCards. Then one time while I was playing with my two rabbits (rest in peace) they cuddled together and formed this heart-shape. Immediately I wanted to make an eCard inspired by my rabbits, in a style that is inspired by Hallmark eCards. So I went and did that, and somehow somebody from Hallmark eCards discovered my work, and they’ve been commissioning me to make eCards for them every since! It’s very much like a “when stars align” series of events because it led to where I am today!
The process of creating eCards for Hallmark varies. Sometimes they have an occasion they need an eCard for, and I come up with some ideas, then they pick one, and then I go ahead and create that eCard from scratch: from storyboard, to character and background design, to the animation (Hallmark always handles the background music and final sound mixing). Sometimes they have a concept in mind, or they send me a storyboard/animatic, and I work off of that while still incorporating my voice to the work. I really enjoy working with Hallmark eCards because of the amount of creative freedom and trust they give me as the artist.
What tools do you use to create your animated work? Is there any technology that you are experimenting with or eager to try out?
Martinez: I’ve been an Adobe person through and through! My most commonly used tools are Photoshop, Flash (now Animate), Premiere, and After Effects. I used to use Adobe CS6 but a few months ago I took advantage of their sale and upgraded to CC, and I L-O-V-E all the new features! As for hardware, I use a Macbook Pro, and a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. I’m looking to experiment a bit more with stop-motion though because I had a lot of fun with my Inktober project, and it would be a refreshing change in how I do my work. [See Martinez's Inktober project here.]
Do you think motion is important to the future of illustration (and do you have any predictions for what comes next for the illustration field)?
Martinez: I believe so! There’s just something about moving images that immediately captures attention. Even in Instagram, cinemagraphs (which are photographs with one or two elements moving in a very subtle way) are quite popular. And how people use animated stickers on Instagram stories, or in comments on Facebook. I feel like motion can compliment illustrations by adding that extra layer to the storytelling.
As for future predictions, I’d love to see how artists and designers can play with augmented reality and VR in their work. I could be wrong, but from what I see, I think these technologies might not be as accessible to everyone just yet, or like someTHING is not yet clicking and that’s why these technologies aren’t as widely used by everyone despite already being out for a few years.
Thanks to Jeca Martinez for taking the time to talk about motion and illustration. Please check out her portfolio here: jecamartinez.com