Fernanda Cohen is an Argentine artist based in New York City whose award winning illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker Magazine, Nylon, The Guardian, among many others. Her colorful work radiates a simple playfulness that has been sought after by companies such as MTV, W Hotels, The Gap, Coca-Cola, and Continental Airlines.
As if that wasn’t enough, she is also a professor at The School of Visual Arts, columnist at 90+10 magazine, and vice president of the illustration conference ICON6. However, for Fernanda working hard to achieve your goals “is not a sacrifice, but rather a great privilege.”
Where does did your style come from and how do you define it?
My style comes from myself, from everything I took in all my life, with inevitable influences from a handful of great teachers that I had studied under in SVA like Jack Potter, Tom Woodruff, and Sal Catalano, as well as the context that surrounds me daily, with all the full range of factors that might entail.
I find it easier, and even more natural, to define my work through the recurrent observations that I’ve heard about it through the years, as emanating energy, joy, sensuality, movement, and that it’s different. In the United States they tell me it looks European, and in Argentina they tell me it’s pretty American.
Above all, to initially define my style, I kept away from art of those artists who fascinated me, as not to have such direct influences.
What is the creative process that you undertake with your illustrations?
• I speak with the client, I question them in depth as much about the visual aspect as the sensory part of the work
• I take notes, many
• I take the most time possible to think of 1-3 radically different concepts
• I find concentration walking, in the shower or wherever there is complete silence
• I sketch in pencil, black and white, and with lots of detail
• I share it with the client by mail to see if they like it and if they want any changes
• I finish the drawing in color once all the details are complete
5 objects that define you as an artist:
• Cream colored paper, thick and smooth
You were born in Buenos Aires and are now based in NY. How has each of these cities and cultures influenced your work?
The influence of the background that surrounds us is inherent to being alive and therefore the art that one produces as a consequence. I carry the Argentine intensity in my blood, and I tend to to apply it with the New Yorker pragmatism that I aquired during the 12 years I’ve spent in NY.
Is there anyone with whom you would like to collaborate?
To do the cover of The New Yorker, illustrate a campaign for Prada and the truth is, the rest I can’t complain in the least.
Any advice for young artists and creatives?
It’s not enough to want to succeed, what’s really important is how much you really want it, and how much you’ll do to achieve it. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s rather a great privilege that takes a lot of effort and on top of that there is always someone that’s willing to do a little more, be better or someone else will be. And finally, be generous to your colleges since we are all a community that is too small, not competition.