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Rosario Mena: Más allá de la superficie: un gran fondo marino - Mappin

Rosario Mena: Beyond the surface: a great seabed

Upon entering Rosario's workshop, without a doubt, you enter a naturalistic atmosphere with - I dare say - dozens if not hundreds of illustrations of fauna, both terrestrial and marine, hung on walls (especially marine ones), mounted on a huge lectern, preserved in folders and loose ones on the large table where Rosario naturally composes with cases full of brushes and pencils, a set of watercolors and sheets to give rise to her creations. We delved into his map "Corriente de Humboldt" designed for Mappin in between all this "micro environment" and we got surprises such as the watercolor heritage of his great-grandfather and grandmother who -the latter- taught him the technique and the one that he also transferred to the love for natural models: “She, my grandmother, is spatial, she illustrates infinite perspectives, immense mountain ranges. I go to the details. I think we are a very good balance.”
Designer by profession, a lover of the sea and its motifs, a technical romantic; This is how we present his interview for our Blog:

What is your proximity to the sea?

The truth is that the restlessness comes from when I am very young. I think it's something that runs through my family too, my mom has a similar obsession. The endless space of the beaches in the north of Chile were part of my life from a very young age. Spaces like this never ceased to captivate me.

How did you come up with the “Humboldt Current” theme for your map?

Since I can remember the sea has been a source of inspiration in many aspects. Its shapes, colors and inhabitants seem to me to be a very attractive world visually and the fact of being less visible has always aroused curiosity in me. This led me to complete my university degree linked to the subject and there to understand that it is not only unknown, but also at risk, there is little protection. I think that somehow making visible some of the species that inhabit this marine world could contribute to loving and protecting it more.

Do you consider naturalistic illustration a viable and necessary way of education?

Absolutely, I think that understanding functions, anatomies and ecosystems in a visual way generates a bond, a certain admiration as well. The unknown becomes understood and appreciated, I think it is the basis for protection as well.

“The process of giving life to the anatomy of the species,

Little by little, it's exciting for me."

How was your research and information gathering process?

My investigative process was hand in hand with marine biologists from ECIM and Oceana. It was essential to capture the regions in which each species is found. Corrections as to their exact forms and scientific names. Which was more pertinent etc.

How do you get access to these organisms and marine biologists?

My university degree was trying to make a cross between the world of artisanal fishing and the knowledge contained in the studies of marine biologists. It was during this investigation that I contacted many professionals in the scientific field. Already titled, we did a couple of works together and the good vibes always remained. When I have doubts they lend me a hand with an excellent disposition. Eternally grateful.

What was your creative process for this graphic piece?

My creative process consisted more than anything of painting and painting and painting species, I tried to make contrasts between species that are very common for us and other more exotic ones and thus show a bit of the ignorance that exists on this subject. I also wanted to show the amount of colors that are under our sea.

And about those unknown colors under the sea... do you feel that you manage to convey their essence on the map, or do we still have a lot to learn about that great seabed?

I think I did a sweep, but without a doubt there is infinite more to explore. In shades of gray, purple shine, the infinite blues..... gives for 100 maps.

Were there obstacles in the development of the map?

There always are! I think the biggest challenge was getting the feeling of an ecosystem rather than species flying over Chile.

“I am sure that this approach to illustration will increase and that it will be a tremendous contribution in terms of education and conservation.”

Did you have any reference as inspiration?

My inspiration in terms of naturalistic illustration has always been Victorian artists, they manage to represent very complex ecosystems with a lot of movement and amazing layers of information. Something like what these greats did is still a long way to go, but this map tries to convey something similar.

Anybody in particular?
Edward Julius Detmold is one of the artists that arouses my desire to create environments with different levels of information and that transmit pure harmony.

What is your favorite stage in the technical construction of the graphic piece? Because?

My favorite stage is the moment when I paint each species. At the beginning, faced with a blank piece of paper, there is always enormous uncertainty about what might result. The process of giving life to the anatomy of the species, little by little, is exciting for me.

As of today, having finished the map some time ago, how would you describe the experience of having designed the map?

Incredible, I love the mix of a piece of art and the delivery of information, I think there is a very valuable concept there.

And under that premise... what do you think of scientific illustration and how has it increased its boom in Chile where we already see thematic bookstores dedicated to these topics?

It's something I LOVE. The illustration has made a firm space and voice in our country. I like to see the "popularity" of illustrators today and how people identify with their styles. There is an incredible variety and talent. On the scientific side, I think we still need a school specialized in these issues, but without a doubt we are on the right track. I am sure that this approach to illustration will increase and that it will be a tremendous contribution in terms of education and conservation.

“I would love to continue delving under the sea, perhaps one of marine flora would be interesting, especially because of the richness that exists in our territory.”

What are you currently on?

I am currently teaching this technique that I am so passionate about, trying to paint as close as possible to the sea.

By teaching, do you mean courses in your workshop or classes at a university or institute?
Yes, I've been doing watercolor workshops for a year and a half, also sweeping charcoal.

As a wildlife artist, what other topics would you like to cover in a future map?

I would love to continue delving under the sea, perhaps one of marine flora would be interesting, especially because of the richness that exists in our territory.

It's a beautiful Rosario theme... does any specific area of ​​the country catch your attention?

Yeah! The VI region, the province of Navidad, calls my attention a lot. Here the fishermen have studied the seaweed crops very well, I think it is a very interesting area to investigate, not only visually, but also in terms of the artisan dynamics that occur to cultivate them.

What plans do you have for the future in the area of ​​illustration?

In the future I would like to study scientific illustration and thus learn more about the more technical representation.

Here in Chile or abroad?

Abroad, Spain, there are very interesting courses. They address specific topics that I am sure would be a tremendous contribution to my work.

Where can we find your work?

For now I only have it on Instagram (@rosariomenaa), one of my goals to have the website ready to close this 2019.

Photographs: Rafaelo Roasenda G.

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Telkom University - May 16, 2024

What role has restlessness played in your life, and do you see it as a trait passed down through your family? Additionally, how have the vast, open spaces of the northern Chilean beaches influenced your perspective and experiences from a young age?
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