Spanish visual artist Jon Juarez has been active on the visual platform Behance since 2011. With graphic novels and plenty of one-off pieces, Juarez's detailed and intricate creations blend mysticism with magical realism. Caped crusaders shooting laser beams, children flying over circus tents, cosmonauts voyaging into new worlds. It all exists within the illustrator's head and translates perfectly to paper. For this feature, Jon Juarez answered his interview questions in Spanish and had his friend translate. He speaks on magic, artificial intelligence, human understanding, and his upcoming work.
How has 2018 been treating you?
In 2017 I hit rock bottom and now life suddenly smiles at me. I am so lucky that it is hard to choose the best option of all.
You share your art on Behance and Instagram and Facebook as well as other websites. Do you have a favorite platform for displaying your art?
Mmmm...difficult to say. I prefer Behance because there is no advertising, it does not seem that there is such a purchase of followers and that kind of strategy. At the same time, it is this sector’s specific network and the work does not reach the general public. Behance and Artstation are fine, but they have a limited audience. Facebook is literally a monster, it is the Frankenstein of algorithms. Instagram is extremely tiring to me, I do not like the idea of aving to create daily content, doodles, characters, fanarts, etc...I can think of better ways to spend my time, and as a spectator I am shocked by so much visual impact, there is almost no room for discourse...I understand how the social net works, but I still do not understand it as an end in itself. I use the net to learn, I use Pinterest and Vimeo to search for references or interesting articles. Above all, I consume a lot of podcasts while I work. Podcasts interests me the most at the moment...But I wandered from the initial question. As an author-illustrator, I am afraid the platform with which I identify the most is still the book. The book offers a pulse between author and reader, demands a commitment, demands to comply with a structure that is difficult to satisfy.
Your recent posts contain playful magic. Have you always been interested in the supernatural? In special powers?
When science moves away from human understanding, it ends up being indistinguishable from magic. Anyone can speak their minds about it. I like magic because it gives me poetic resources for the limits of reality that I can not understand. Magic gives me the status of a trashy philosopher.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
I work every day, more days than I would like, more hours than I can work. I hate that drawing is such a slow process.
What is the art scene like where you live in Spain?
I have a hard time thinking about art’s territoriality. I believe that my patriotic feeling will never be geographical, it has more to do with my vital journey and attachment. But trying to answer your question I am going to say some names with which I have a lot of hype: Nuria Tamarit is a young author with a very high level of production and quality, I am very interested in whatever she is going to do. I think she arrived on the comic scene like a tsunami. I love Panelsyndicate. It freaks me out what it does and how it does it, it inspires inside and outside. Luis NCT is an author who is working on a long project from which I have seen just a couple of pages, but I am looking forward to it. Oriol Hernandez, Gabriel Hernandez Walta...I would also love to see Julia Sardá and Josán Gonzalez facing a good comic script, and Leire Salaberria, of course. Nacho Vigalondo’s movies, Canada’s music videos, and a couple of pieces by Dvein drive me crazy. Paradise Hills, Alice Waddington's first film really intrigues me. I would also like to read Guillem Lopez. Conclusion: the art scene is exploding live on my fucking face.
What are you currently working on? Only singular pieces, or a bigger idea like a book/exhibit?
I am currently in Angouleme thanks to a grant between France and Spain, working on a story of my own. It is a western, an old project that I recovered a few years ago. At the beginning, it is not a story I had at the forefront, but if it is the fastest I have been able to solve. I am also collaborating with a conception group within a R&D department of a telecommunications company, but I do not know for how long.
What are some studio essentials?
I have a notebook under the mouse, where I write ideas down. If I want to do it, I have to lift the mouse first. It is a ritual. I also have a digital pad and many podcasts.
Outside of your own art, what have you been enjoying recently?
I get along with John Maclean's Slow West and with Alex Garland’s two films. I would love to ask Jeff VanderMeer if he had Aama (Frederic Peeters) in mind when he wrote the trilogy in which Annihilation is inspired. Aama and Annihilation are a headlong rush. It is funny, because they try to solve something so complex that any solution ends up looking like a remedy, an emergency exit. There are answers that do not belong to us, and maybe the real challenge is to illustrate that feeling, like Kubrick did in 2001 and like Tarkovsky, paradoxically, did in Stalker, in a more literary than cinematographic way.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
It is a piece of advice that I tell myself. In the medium-long term, artificial intelligence is going to emulate our creative mechanics. We think we are special, but art is not magic. The future of fiction may be custom-made. We are going to witness our own creative obsolescence. But luckily, this pre-posthumanism we have to live in has fossilised a deep moral-technological discordance like an abyss. Never before in history were we so not ready for what is coming. I think that fiction has a lot of work to do in the next few years, it has the difficult task of maturing and defining a human perspective.
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
Things will go well and go wrong, in all directions, from all directions, there is no one at the wheel.