Artist Interview: Jotaká on Pirates, Tattoos and Etsy

In preparation for the release of his collection "Scourge of the Sea," we caught up with the freelance illustrator known as Jotaká on how this collection reminds him of his childhood, discovering creativity and the symbolism of tattoos in art.

Hey Jotaká, why don't you start out by telling us about yourself...

My real name is Juan Carlos, and I live in Valencia, a Mediterranean city located in the eastern region of Spain. My hobbies outside of drawing are taking photos, traveling, collecting things that inspire me and laughing as much as possible.

What's the story behind your pseudo name as an artist?

My friends in college started calling me "JK" to shorten my name. In Spanish, that sounds like "Jotoká," literally. The unique name has definitely been helpful in creating my own brand as an artist.  

How did you get started as an artist? What inspired you?

I started drawing when I was really small and never stopped. I began attending an art academy when I was just five years old. There, I gradually discovered that I enjoy doing creative things. Even later, when I was in high school, I would fill my agendas and notebooks with drawings. When I was 18, I went on to study fine arts, and then illustration, in Valencia and Barcelona. Pretty much anything in everyday life, the simple things, inspire me. 

You have such a unique style in your illustrations -- we'd describe it as quaint and futuristic. How would you describe your style, and how did you cultivate it?

Even for me, it's difficult to describe my drawing style. I try to draw friendly and kind characters that make you smile. I attempt to give them a novel air but personalities that just about anyone can identify with. I really like to use powerful, happy colors. 

Tell us a little bit about your collection, "Scourge of the Sea" -- what inspired it?

Since childhood, I've always been interested in everything related to pirates. The treasure islands and characters I imagined while playing with my toy pirate boat were just so "drawable." This collection definitely reminds me of my childhood. 

To create this collection, I first drew some freeform sketches without thinking too much about what I wanted to draw. I then picked a few sketches that looked appropriate and cleaned them up with ink and markers. Then, I colored them in digitally. The whole collection took about a month to create, though I discarded many of the images because they did not match what I had in mind. I had such a great time making them!

"Arcade," an uncommon print from the "Scourge of the Sea" collection. 

"Arcade," an uncommon print from the "Scourge of the Sea" collection

Many of the people in your illustrations, including your collection, have tattoos. What's the significance of that? Do you have any yourself?

Tattoos symbolize the characters' own tastes; they're a way to share more information about a character with the viewer. As for myself, I'm still waiting on my first tattoo. It will be of thunder, which symbolizes energy and continuous movement -- describes me perfectly! 

We also saw that you have your own store on Etsy. Tell us about that! 

I'm very happy with selling on Etsy. I think it's a great way to bring illustration to everyone. We can all see the process and evolution of illustration on social media, and finally, everyone can have it at home in our own little corners. It's a great way to get close to people who follow my work. 

Anything else you want to add?

Only to say thanks to NeonMob for trusting my work and treating me so well! I hope all the NeonMobsters out there like my pirates. :)