Coloring books are a personal, therapeutic experience for me. Sometimes I can spend an hour (or even longer) filling in just a single page, which gives me a lot of time to think about the illustration I’m spending my focus on. Unlike the average coloring book, the Doodlers Anonymous coloring books include a list of all the artists involved and where to find them. That’s how I ended up asking Chucho Nieto a bunch of the odd little questions that spark while I’m coloring away!
DA: Hey Chucho! Start by telling me your story, I want to know how long you’ve been a doodle addict. What is your first memory of something you drew?
CN: Hi there! Hmm… I suppose I was interested in graphics since I was a kid and learned how to write (yeah, I loved those calligraphy worksheets!). My first doodlers-anonymous memory is waking up from my nap, finding a red crayon and starting to doodle my name on the room’s wall. In my memory it was a great piece, but it looks like my parents decided not to keep it! I spent my teen days fascinated with graffiti, old signs, packaging and electrical stuff, so ended up studying Graphic Design looking to combine my creative, technical and conceptual sides. As soon as I finished the university I left my city (Valladolid), started traveling and ended up settling for a while in Birmingham. Now–-after years focused on digital design–-I’m trying to come back to my beginnings. I’m getting interested again in illustration, geometric patterns, paper craft, and basically anything hand-made.
DA: Now fast forward to what you’re up to right now: What is the most recent cool thing that you did?
CN: I just finished a poster for an organization called The Real Junk Food Project. They are a perfect combination between catering professionals and activists who intercept ‘food waste’ from supermarkets and convert it into tasty meals that are offered on a pay-as-you-feel basis to everyone. They needed a map showing the new cafes, and I really enjoyed drawing it!
DA: That’s a really cool idea and a great cause! Where and when do you do most of your doodles?
CN: I tend to divide my time in two blocks. Ideas, concepts, quick doodles and weird inventions are the most common activities when I’m relaxed at home, early in the day or during the night. My girlfriend is also an illustrator, so being absorbed by a sketchbook is never a problem for us! From there I go to my studio, where I spend the rest of the day. The place is perfect to focus and get things done, and as I share it with two other artists I also find it great for bouncing ideas or getting a hand when my brain is stuck with something.
DA: Do you have any quirky habits that you do in your creative process?
CN: Ufff, I’ve got hundreds! But I’ll mention some of the less embarrassing ones… I get up really really early in the morning, at least three hours before the sun (or any email) appears. I can’t work with the same clothes I wear in the street or I sleep with, so putting on my ‘creative uniform’ is such a daily ritual (hey, freelancers should also have a cool uniform like pilots, or takeaway staff! 🙂 ). And to finish… I love my work materials to be placed in parallel or 90 degree angles. I say to myself I’m not strict with it, but when I look at my desk it tends to be arranged like that all the time!
DA: The uniform thing is something I haven’t heard yet (and seems fun)! So other than art, what are your favorite hobbies?
CN: During my spare time, you can easily find me walking around the city, staring at the buildings (I love architecture!). I also enjoy playing with old pieces of electrical equipment and have always been curious about industrial machinery, full of tiny and intricate parts! I suppose somehow that gets translated in the way I draw or the topics I choose. I like when projects secretly hide something personal about me.
DA: I like that too! And I like finding out these things about you so I can spot them myself in your drawings. Does your illustration in our coloring book hide something personal about you?
CN: The person who colours the book is putting something personal into it, so I wanted to also offer a piece of myself. I tend to pay extra attention to everyday, common objects so I said… “Why not finding something personal that at the same time can be familiar to almost everybody who gets the book?” After some random thoughts and doodles, I came up with the idea of drawing some of the cars and motorbikes that have been in my life since I was a kid. I needed something international, easy to recognize, and they seemed like fun to draw so… Here you go! My brother’s Vespa, my neighbour’s Jeep, a classic Renault (the factory is in my city!) and some other wheeled friends that have earned a space in my memory in the last decades.
DA: That looks great, I love your style!