Like the portraits of people, he tries to capture the personality and characteristic features of the animals he draws. He feels that in this way, he dignifies what the owners feel for them. To date, there are more than 200 animals that he has illustrated.
Statistics say that two out of three Chileans have a pet and not only feel they are part of their family; many have chosen to portray them and have them as paintings in their homes. Two years ago and as a way to raise money, Josefina discovered that the pet illustration niche was not being addressed and began to develop this work that is based on watercolor.
What is your relationship with the art world?
In my family we are three sisters and we have always been artists; one studied graphic design, the other advertising and I art. In my school we had a teacher who encouraged us a lot. In fact, he demanded more of me than the rest. To get a seven cost me infinity. He was challenging me to push my own limits.
And how do you get to illustrate pets?
The illustration came to me after university, at the end of 2013 at Christmas time in the middle of my grade exam work. Since I couldn't go to work in a mall to raise money, I began to paint with watercolor, which I had put aside in college. I put together compositions and painted a Basset Hound, the typical Hush Puppies dog. A friend who has one wanted to buy it for me as soon as she saw it. There I thought "if this happens, it can happen in many other places" and I realized that there was a niche that nobody was addressing. After that I started uploading my stuff to Instagram, and after three months it started to go well.
It was motivating because I took everything that came my way and put in a lot of work. However, I had to professionalize something very different from what I had done in my time at the university. I began to investigate a type of art that was new to me and that did not have much place in the art circuit. In fact, illustration only three or four years ago is beginning to be valued. Sometimes I have received emails asking how much my "drawings" cost, since behind that there are four years of study, theory and a lifetime of training to get there.
Josefina believes that if she didn't paint with watercolors she wouldn't be illustrating pets. What he likes most about this technique is that errors are integrated and sometimes surprise you in the final result.
You draw crowns, bandanas and masks for some pets. How is your relationship with the dogs you portray? Do you try to know them to personalize them?
I really like the relationship that people have with their pets, because they are part of the family. When I get orders, they send me photos of the pets and tell me the stories. They themselves ask me to draw them crowns and that kind of thing. For me it is very rich to empathize with that emotional part because basically the illustration dignifies what they feel.
You also like embroidery. Do you see it as separate from the illustration?
No zero. In fact, I embroider the same flowers that I draw. Obviously it is not the same because it is not watercolor but one adapts the technique to your interests. The color and texture complement a larger investigation that is behind and is also seen in my illustrations.
What is the technique you use when embroidering? Do you feel that it is similar to what you do when you paint with watercolor?
My work in embroidery has a lot of direction, both in the composition of elements and painting itself. I use the 00 brush, which is very fine and it could be said that it is almost the same thickness as the needle I use to embroider.
Since this year, Josefina stopped working at home and began to share an office with photographers, designers, architects and engineers. According to his account, it has been one of the best things that has happened to him this year since there is a very productive instance among all his teammates.
Do you have a special relationship with animals?
Nothing, in fact everyone asks me if I have dogs but my mom doesn't like them. We made several attempts but they always ended badly. I love them, I'm always giving away dogs and I'd be happy to have one if I lived alone.
What illustrator do you admire?
To Luisa Rivera. She was my assistant in Drawing 1 at the University. In addition to being very generous giving me every time I have contacted her, her work is very nice. I find your work super inspiring; mixes the dream world with flora, fauna, characters. A very narrative illustration. And to Trini Guzmán for how she brought her art technique closer to people through her embroidery courses. I think Luisa and Trini are super simple. One believes that great artists are unattainable and in truth they are super close people.
Artwork by Luisa Rivera in Josefina's office.
Tell us a little about how the work on the map of Los Quiltros de Chile has been.
It was hard for me to choose what to do because almost everything was already done. It occurred to me to do a contest on Instagram with the hashtag #tuquiltroenunmappin for people from Arica to Punta Arenas to send photos of their dogs with the rescue story. When I contacted the owners they would get very excited and everyone would ask where and when they could buy the map. A percentage of the sales of the map will go to the Juliet Foundation.
What is your relationship with this dog rescue and adoption foundation?
I help them with what I can. I arrived because of a friend who knew my work and little by little we were doing projects together as donations of different types.
Josefina usually works at her desk, but for the Los Quiltros de Chile map she had to move to the meeting table in her office to have enough space to work.
The map of Los Quiltros de Chile is still in progress. Josefina has located the dogs as the lines of the map and the shapes of the dogs have fitted her.
Do you think you can make a living from art in Chile?
Yes, in fact I live from commissions and other projects. It has been difficult because the item is gone and I feel that the artists have to unite so that it stops happening. It is the task of the union to dignify our work. At the beginning one does not have to have so many expectations because it is not something that comes quickly. I believe that you can live as long as you are persevering, patient and don't stop working. Each one has to make their way since the same race forces you to be leaving your comfort zone.
What do you dream with?
That people value the artist the same as any other. This year I traveled to China and for the first time I had the option of artist when marking the profession in the Visa papers. There is still a lot to do here and one of my dreams is to be part of that change. Specifically how is the task that remains pending.
Are you thinking of developing another style for later?
Yes and it goes with leaving the comfort zone. Suddenly one is very snuggled up in this case in watercolor, the illustration of pets, which is not something I want to stop doing but I want to do other things too. To take other courses I want to do it with people I admire because those are the teachers who mark you the most.
What are your future projects?
I want to start making products, international shipments and preparing illustration and watercolor workshops and classes.
The first phase of Josefina's illustrations is with graphite, then with watercolor and finally she uses Posca acrylic markers and drawing pens for details. The paper he uses is one in a yellow tone so that it contrasts with the metallic backgrounds of his illustrations.