Meet this month’s featured artist Andrea Hernandez !
A quick introduction
I was born and raised in Venezuela, where there is an affinity towards traditional architecture. I thought it was interesting that the arrangement of spaces had a direct impact on your sense of comfort. Furthermore, I saw how lack of social, economical and political infrastructure in my country rendered so many people homeless, but I hope that through architecture we can at least provide one of the most basic and essential needs: a home. Because of this I decided to pursued a degree in design from a university in Venezuela. I later transferred to the University of Miami (UM), where I graduated with a BA in architecture in 2019.
As a result, I had the opportunity to work with many professor’s—many of whom preside over their own firms, such as Cure & Penabad and Steven Fett, with whom I am currently working. These firms allowed me to grow as a professional. We worked as a team to understand small- and large-scale projects alike. As a result, I have come to believe that we, as architects, must take an eclectic approach when designing structures that are functional, safe, sustainable and aesthetically appealing. We cannot focus solely on a single style of architecture or type of construction, since we are creating spaces in order to meet different types of needs.
I think the University of Miami produces very distinct drawings that have shaped me, such as the ones that appear in Vincent Scully‘s book, Between Two Towers, which illustrates among other things the Hispanic influence over the development of architectural drawings in Miami.
In the same way, I admire the amount of details, textures and carefully placed objects offices like Dogma tend to include in their renders. Although personally, I try to study painters for inspiration in my collages. Evidently, there’s Will Barnet amazing line drawings that resemble Japanese woodblock prints, Henri Rosseu‘s carefully crafted landscapes or Georges-Pierre Seurat delicate pointillism.
“ In the end, we are the product of the people we admire. If anything, I am hopeful that just a drop of their beauty and harmony will seep my drawings. ”
My creative process varies according to the project and client. For example, If I work through my firm, I have to capture the sensibility that it wishes to portray in every project. So, when it is a family searching for the perfect home, we usually include them in the illustration to make it feel much more personal. For us, it is important to depict the community we are building for, which is why we want the renders to be beautiful and diverse, in such a way that it makes the client want to enter the image and live there.
When it comes to the basic process, it starts off with the sketch and design of the building. Once that is done, we choose the moments that best define the project, those which convey the story we want to tell. For that, we test different views of a 3D model in SketchUp and select potential shots. Then, once we are satisfied, we export the view to 2D lines, clean it up in AutoCad, export it to Illustrator, adjust line weights and, finally, import it to Photoshop, in which we render the image, starting with base colors and a lot of overlayed textures. As soon as we add the landscape, the drawing starts to come alive. We spend a lot of time picking the right person, tree or object for every illustration so that it aids the client in understanding the space and visualizing it as their own.
Color palettes are difficult to master; even I don’t know what I am doing when I use them half the time. In fact, my attraction towards other illustrators’ works and studying different artists have influenced my aesthetics and color schemes. I think whatever drawing style I have started to materialize after collecting assets (landscape, textures, human scale, objects). That’s when I recognized elements that I was particularly fond of in each of my illustrations.
Again, the way I draw depends on the project; so, for example, If I am at work, then the color palette has to be much more tamed compared to the one I use for myself, which is brighter and saturated with colors. However, I tend to gravitate towards strong palettes that catch people’s eye. Of course, there are times when I fail to capture the attention of the client, but that is part of the trial-and-error method. Things work smoother since photoshop has facilitated the change of colors with a couple of switches. And, when none of that works, I bring in another set of eyes to evaluate the drawing.
It’s important for me to note that none of this developed overnight. I actually struggled to render in school, because I was a transfer student and half way through the career I still didn’t know how to open photoshop or 3d model. Luckily, I was paired with partners that were great illustrators and had the patience to teach me. Although, it was only my last year of school that I thought I was progressing. Nevertheless, the current firm I am working in pushes me to improve since we want to represent all members of the community in the most respectful of ways.
Tips for beating the designer’s block
I am constantly working on that. I feel I might be very self-critical of everything I produce. Sometimes nothing looks right or it never feels finished. Surely, this augmented ever since the pandemic altered our daily life. Despite this, I am thankful because quarantine nudged me to start posting illustrations in reference to what I was feeling and I think that resonated with many of my friends. At that moment the American news cycle felt so convoluted and everyone was trying to make sense of the situation, as a result I was so saturated with information that these illustrations were my only outlet. After that I didn’t stop. Things got easier with time, I’m still trying to figure it out. With people going back to the office it’s hard to keep illustrating because in the end designing is not just visualization.
Indeed, it’s difficult to find a perfect balance but I have come to learn that it’s best just to keep producing. Despite the precision, just draw whatever you see. Consistency can only lead to growth. And if I ever feel overwhelmed, I take it back to the basics by animating little GIFS that lighten me up or by creating small isometric drawings that relieve the stress and tension. These random illustrations are a reflection of my moods. Through them, I can visually translate what I am feeling, albeit for a very compressed ten seconds. I want to help people understand that it is normal to feel lonely and anxious at times, and that human connection helps. When someone sees my drawings, I want them to feel like we can be alone together.
Sketchbook / Graphics tablet ? Sketchbook, I like to draw people on the metro. It feels like figure drawing, which was always my safe place.
Photoshop / Procreate ? This is a hard choice, but I would have to pick photoshop for collage renders and procreate for my personal illustrations.
Work from home / Office ? Work from home! I forgot how long the commute was and now that I’m back in the office it takes a toll on you. Although a safe answer would be half and half, just because some meetings are so much more productive in person.
Dog person / Cat person ? I love dogs, but I prefer drawing cats.