Ik hou van tekeningen. In 2001 studeerde ik af als illustratrice en sindsdien blijf ik gefascineerd door mensen die het oog en de pen hebben om kanttekeningen te maken bij het leven. Illustratoren proberen de werkelijkheid te vatten in lijnen en kleuren en hun blik op de wereld zo door te geven aan anderen. Net als de prachtige miniaturen die monniken droedelden in hun manuscripten, blijft hun werk vaak verborgen in de kantlijn. Illustratrice Ana Jarén krijgt vandaag alvast een plaatsje in de spotlights.
Ik ontmoet Ana op een regenachtige zomerdag in haar huisje in Antwerpen Zuid. Ze is drie weken geleden bevallen en haar huis is een zooi, zegt ze verontschuldigend. Dat valt nogal mee, zeg ik en ik denk aan de hel die mijn leven was toen mijn eerste kind drie weken oud was en me dag en nacht geen rust gunde.
Terwijl ze haar baby voedt, praten we over slaaptekort, in het honderd lopende voedingsschema’s en haar verhuis van Madrid naar Antwerpen, zo’n twee jaar geleden.
Ana: “My husband got offered a job as an engineer in Antwerp and we were like: ‘why not give it a try?’ It’s been going really well here. People are friendly and helpful and I’m getting more and more work. I work for everybody: international magazines, clients from Spain but also from Belgium. I can’t complain at all. I mean, I’m not rich, but it’s a fulltime job.
When you move to another country and you quit your job, it’s so nice to feel that you can produce your own work. That’s the most important thing for me. Over the past three years we’ve moved to different places but I was always able to make my own money. I feel fulfilled. In illustration language is not a barrier, which also makes it easier for me to work anywhere.”
I really liked the series ‘Loneliness’ and ‘Woman at home’.
“Loneliness was the first one that I did, and the series has evolved to Women at home. I guess I was spending too much time at home. (baby starts crying) But now we’re not alone anymore. (laughs)
How do you make the drawings? Do you use real life models or photos?
“I use the internet a lot, like Pinterest for example. But this city is also a very good source of inspiration; I sometimes get ideas from interiors or fashion campaigns. I take one girl from here, add some things from my imagination and I mix everything up.
I love the mix between beauty and the everydayness of things. I also like it when my illustration tells a little story. I want people to look at the faces of the girls. Is this girl happy? Maybe she has everything in her room, but she doesn’t feel good. That was the concept of Loneliness. These women live in lovely houses, they have everything but they are sad or feel lonely.”
Do you feel lonely here in Antwerp?
“No, I started the series here in Antwerp, but it has been ones of the place where it was easiest to make friends.”
Really? Because they say that Belgian people are quite guarded or distant.
“Well, that’s not the case for us. My husband has met some very nice people at work. Of course, it’s not exactly the same as in Spain, but I have a group of very good friends here. I can go out and have a great time whenever I want to.”
I’ve found more similarities than differences between Spanish and Belgian people. Everybody likes to go out, enjoy the sun and have good conversations.
What’s the biggest difference between Spanish people and Belgian people? If there are any differences at all?
“Sometimes Belgian people can be a bit closed off. In Spain, people are more spontaneous about going out. Spanish people are more open to plans at any time. Here you have to make arrangements in advance. But to be honest, I’ve found more similarities than differences. People here also like to enjoy the sun, they like to go out often. People make jokes, they like to have good conversations… They live their lives in a relaxed way. At least in this neighbourhood, I feel like I am in a little village. Everybody seems calm and less stressed than in Madrid. I don’t hear a lot of cars honking for example.
You always have an image in your mind about how people from other countries are going to be, but most of the time these are just clichés. I have always found people who are willing to help. Sometimes it even feels like it’s easier here than in Spain. No, I can’t complain at all!”