Focus: Paula Alvarez Alves Interview

Focus: Paula Alvarez Alves Interview

Focus explores the creative talent within the climbing community.

Venezuelan designer and illustrator Paula Alvarez Alves takes direct inspiration from her climbing and the outdoors. Based in Barcelona, Alves works in both illustration and motion design and features a mix of bright colors and shapes which create a distinctive style.

How did you first find your way into illustration and motion design?

Motion design was not planned. I wanted to be an animator when I was young, inspired by a childhood watching disney and cartoons. Then through high school and art school I found a lot of other things that I was interested in. I did a few videos, art installations, visual programming, design and illustration as well as animation and stop-motion. Motion design was a way to still be able to work on a variety of projects but give it some focus. Then right out of college I got to work with a small studio from Barcelona, where I could work on a piece from start to finish and see all phases of the process while learning the trade. That was my take off, where I learned to monetize the skills I had, to live from what I loved doing. Illustration has always been there, since it's the basis for animation by design. 

How did you develop your style as you progressed with your practice?

Because my education was not a classical one, with a focus on digital and new media, I've always had a tendency to work with vector and digital, playing with shapes and using bright colors. A lot of what I illustrate eventually has to be animated, so I developed a style that was functional, based on geometric shapes and flat colors that over time has evolved to include more detail and to become a bit more organic. I draw a lot of inspiration from my own experience and that involves going out, running, climbing, hiking--basically nature and the human body. 

How much of an impact has climbing had on your creative career, you obviously take inspiration from it but has it also changed your approach to your work?

With climbing came a desire to represent this culture of outdoor living and the community that is out there in the parks, in the mountains, on the trail and that always greets you like family. In a way it got me doing more personal projects and trying to find what my message is. It’s also what gave me the push to start freelancing, the need to create my own schedule and enjoy life more.

What goes into the process of creating a piece from ideation to completion? 

A motion design piece starts from an idea or a concept that can be your own or, in the case of commercial work, there's a brief from an agency or client. From this, I create a sketched storyboard of the different scenes, to give the client an idea of the visual narrative being presented and also a couple of styleframes from significant moments. These are final quality, and define the look of the piece. Afterwards, all the different scenes have to be illustrated and animated. First I make a draft of the animation, and then I go back, add details and perfect the movement and timings. A lot of times you have to look for stock footage for certain actions, to use as reference or film yourself acting it out.


When it comes to skillset, motion design is a multi layered practice; what advice would you give to anyone looking to pursuing a similar path?

That’s right, I think an important element that gets neglected when you’re learning is the design/illustration side. So to someone who is starting to learn I would recommend looking for resources and mentors who can help bring out the creative director inside you. Look for illustrators and designers too, they can be good sources of inspiration.

You can follow Paula on Instagram here.