Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Miguel Herranz: "What I really love is to draw"

Last week I received this note from Miguel Herranz in Italy:

"I've followed your blog for about one year (it's one of my absolute favorites) and finally I dare to send you my stuff. I'm a newcomer, I have just 4 years of experience drawing storyboards, but I've been an art director for about 20, always making my own boards and comps. What I really love is to draw, and it's because of this that I left art direction to become a storyboard artist."

I clicked on the link to Miguel's site and was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about his decision to give up art directing to do boards...

Miguel wrote, "I started on the late 70's early 80's and my main inspiration was comic. My favorite artists were Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Carlos Gimenez and Hugo Pratt. I started working on a graphic design studio while studying in the evening, and then I took contact with illustrator's books and I've been totally dazzled by many of the artists. I loved so much Michael Schwab, Murray Tinkelman, Ludwig Hohlwein and Guy Billout."

"From the first studio in which I was the office boy I moved to an advertising agency, then to another. I studied graphic design while I taught myself to draw, instead of taking proper studies in art... at the time making money was much easier as a creative than as an illustrator. I became an art director with drawing skills."

"I worked in the Madrid office of J. Walter Thompson and some other little agencies till I founded my own little agency in 1996. The accounts were Winston, Kodak, Nescafe, Kraft, Heineken, Alitalia and many others less well known."

"In 2001 I was tired, things were no good (I think I can be a good or bad professional but sure I'm a terrible manager). I decided to stop and look for a job in another agency and found it in Italy so I jumped to Bologna. At that point I was not used to taking orders from a boss and one year later I was a free lance (after passing through 2 agencies). I tried to offer all my skills: creativity, graphic design, corporate image and... illustration. I had not drawn so much in the years I had my own agency (I had no time!!!) so I was a little stiff at drawing. Moreover, I had made the transition from graphic design to the computer but I continued drawing on paper and I had to learn how to do it on the computer. My surprise was that even with all these problems agencies asked me for more and more illustrations. I discovered I was so pleased, drawing was my first love and I felt advertising and graphic design had been just a big detour. I did my last graphic design work in 2006, from then on I'm just an illustrator. 3/4 storyboards, comps and event design, the rest characters, and some other stuff. I like storyboards, but I like to publish more and to know that more people will see my artwork (the ego, you know :-) )."

"I work for Italian agencies but in the last couple of years I've started to work for german, dutch and spanish agencies too. I think this diversity helps in these bad times to keep the phone ringing, so I'm not having huge problems. From what some art directors tell me, they value my experience in their roles... maybe I'm not the best artist but I know what an art director has in mind. I think that this allows me to float."

I told Miguel that I thought his experience would provide a valuable lesson for my students (and no doubt many others who will read this). He replied, "There's another thing that may be of interest to your students. In the years I became a manager of my own little agency, since I couldn't draw for work, I started to draw sketchbooks - just on holidays and on the rare free weekends I had. I had no plan or continuity, it was just the need of drawing. Anyways, I have just about 50-60 sketchbook pages from those 10 years. I didn't use to draw very much. When I started to work as an illustrator, making almost all my work on a tablet (now on a Cintiq), I missed the paper and then my sketchbooks became much more important. You see the paradox? When I didn't draw, my sketchbooks were just a tiny thing, when I became a (mostly digital for work) illustrator, they have grown to become a very, very important thing. I discovered diferent groups in the web (everydaymatters, sketchcrawl.com) and became one the (proud) members of urbansketchers.com . I was invited to the Biennale du Carnet de Voyage de Clermont Ferrand in 2008, and this is now the kind of drawing I love the most. I don't earn any money with it, but I've learned so many things, not only about drawing, I've come to know people and its a great relaxing activity (my wife ask me if I'm mad when I use to stop working in the evening and watch some tv... while sketching the images!). If you want to take a look, the quickest way is my youtube page where I have all my sketchbooks at the moment." http://www.youtube.com/freekhand

Many thanks to Miguel for sharing his story and his beautiful artwork with us!

Miguel's website: Comps, Storyboards, Event Mktg and his Flickr sets


  1. Cool story, and great sketch links. Thanks for posting!

  2. Wow, I'm so flattered you published all this, thank you so much Leif!

  3. yeah... you dared to leave what you had and pursue your dreams *salute*

  4. Terrific work ! I checked your website, great stuff.

  5. Thank you all. Harry: I'm so honored to receive such a comment from a master like you!

  6. Wonderful work Miguel, thank you for sharing with us
    and bravo for having the guts to 'go for it!'

  7. Hey Miguel,
    absolutely awesome boards!!
    I love the way you use colour, so solidly. Very satisfying to look at!

  8. Thank you so much Robert!
    Gracias María, nos vemos por aquí!

  9. miguel,ur my long distance role model,