The Tools Artists Use

Blanca Helga

Posted on May 25, 2009 | Comments

Blanca Helga is an illustrator and animated film director living in Madrid, Spain.


What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

I normally use pencils, markers, papers, cardboard, small objects I come across, wool, wood, thread, needles and even the drawing tablet when using my computer.

I consider paper and objects as drawing tools because one part of my work is collage, so I utilize these materials to "paint" with them.

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

It depends on the work. If it is a commisioned one, its character helps me make the decision. When it is free work I prefer collage, so I have a pile of scrap papers all over my table, and I play with them until I find an association that catches my eye and serves as a starting point. If I have no papers nearby, my choice is to draw in my notebook with propelling pencil or with markers.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I use a propelling pencil with 0.5 leads. I love fluorescent markers too.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

Colored pencils, markers, papers and computer colors.


If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

I have a bunch of colored pencils and markers of different kinds and origins all mixed together in a bag. I can buy them from a specialized art store to the convenience store next door. My favorite one depends on the mood of the day.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

For sketching, I prefer Moleskine and Muji notebooks, but any other notebook with a nice paper could do as well. Nevertheless, the notebook has to be small in size; the limits of the paper help me with the composition of the drawing.

For final works, my favorite is the Fabriano paper.

And of course, for collages all kind of old and used papers are great, and sometimes I even rip off pieces of paper from worn-out posters I find in the streets. I also do some scavenging in the paper recycling bins I happen to pass by.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

I apply color and texture to some of my pencil drawings with Photoshop. In the case of collage, I post-process them very few times on my computer.


Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

Yes, for example reciently I saw an artist friend of mine using felt markers and I wanted to try them instantly. Also books and the internet are an inspiration for new tools.

Do you have anything you use out of the ordinary for making your art?

Maybe the cardboard and found objects, but I don't know if I can say they are out of the ordinary. Lots of people work with them.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

The starting point is always non-digital. I feel freer and closer to the work, when I touch the paper with my hands. Another reason is that I love the warm, imperfect look of the non-digital materials. But I need most of the time the digital tool to finish the work.


I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

It is fundamental for all the reasons above, but it is also a big distraction. You know; checking your e-mail, browsing the internet, chatting with friends, one can't decide when the work ends and the fun begins. Time flies.

Thanks Blanca!

You can find Blanca Helga online at Flickr (blancahelga), her profile at Studio Banana (the arts collective she belongs to), and her Etsy shop. Blanca Helga's latest video, called "The story of a little blue horse", can be seen on Vimeo.

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