Sunny illustrations of Caroline Selmes are like child smile. Her artworks beam happiness and easiness. This mood and excellent concept became a key to success. Caroline’s clients are advertising agencies, magazines and different studios. Caroline shared with our readers some tips of being successful  commercial illustrator in Spain. 

And big thanks to Caroline for special mix-tape for Leivos. We love it! 

L: How did you find yourself in illustration? Did you try something else before art field?

CS: I’ve always enjoyed drawing, but I’ve never imagined I could make a living from it. After studying sciences in high school, I wanted to try a more creative field, so I studied Visual Communication in Paris. I felt I was pretty good at thinking concepts and I got a job in advertising. I worked as an Art Director for 5 years, in several agencies from Paris and Barcelona. Somehow after all these experiences I figured out I was exhausted of advertising. What I really enjoyed was drawing, so I quitted my job at the agency and attended an illustration course in Barcelona. Since then, I’m trying to do my best in illustration. It’s hard to find your place in this market, but I would never come back, I really love my new life as an illustrator :)

L: If you had to make a mix-tape of songs that inspire you at the moment, what would they be?

CS: I use to listen to a lot of music while I’m working. I would say I’ve a very eclectic taste, but for most of my friends it doesn’t make any sense. 

I would put in the mix-tape my last feel-good songs:

1- "Take me away" - Wild Belle

2- "Life’s a beach"- Django Django

I would include early reggae, rocksteady and dub:

4 -"Stay with me" - Bob Marley and the wailers 

5- "It Mek" - Desmond Dekker

3- "Three in One" - The Upsetters

Also some psychedelic rock: 

7- "Forge your own chains" - D.R. Hooker

6- "Niyayesh" - Kourosh 

8 - "Dino’s song" - Quicksilver Messenger Service

And an unexpected Dire Straits touch to end it

9- "Industrial disease" - Dire Straits

Actually, you can listen to it here! Leivos Mix-tape

L: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

CS: Most of people don’t know that I love dancing salsa, in particular salsa New York style. It’s a pity that no one of my friends wants to dance or to learn salsa. Some of them dance swing, mostly because nowadays swing is cool, while salsa isn’t.

What else? When I moved on to Spain I wanted to learn jamón carving (Iberan ham). One of the firsts things I did here was a course on that. There are different kinds of hams, knives and techniques… It’s like an ancient art. And of course, we ate it afterwards.


L: Is it hard to be a freelance illustration in Barcelona? What are your ways to get orders?

CS: Well, being honest I think it’s currently hard and it’s getting harder for many reasons, but mostly because of Spain is one of the more affected countries by the European financial crisis. 

From my experience, there’s also something cultural. Most of the Spanish clients don’t value the illustrator work. It’s like they think you’re doing this as a hobby. They will pay you bad because there’s not much money in the market (and, as the law allows them, very late). And with the financial crisis, the situation is only getting worse. If you want to make a living from illustration in Spain the only secret is to get foreigner clients and a lot of contacts.

As I worked in advertising agencies in Spain and France, I made some good contacts and now 80% of my orders come from them or friends of them. Some orders are coming also from online portfolio platforms like Domestika in Spain. What else… there are some other unexpected ways. I was one of the speakers at Pecha Kucha Night Barcelona three months ago, and now I have two new projects from there. 

L: Do you have personal plan for the future?

CS: As the environment is getting very difficult here, I’m planning to move somewhere else with my boyfriend. Somewhere we could hide from the daily bad news and get more opportunities. We’re thinking in London because of the crazy vibes there, but if we cannot make it, we can always stay in Spain and enjoy the sun and the Mediterranean way of living! 

L: And our special question. Imagine that you are sweets, what kind it would be and why?:)

CS: I think I would be a liquorice wheel. Hate it or love, but it has a special taste and a funny shape and you can play with it before eating it.

Thank you, Caroline!


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