illustration Nicolae Negura

Interview with Nicolae Negură

Prolific illustrator who has art deep inside him and is overflowing with creativity. He creates captivating works with his characters and scenes of life, sometimes surrealist that takes us into his colorful, dreamy and deep imagination. Nicolae Negură is a Romanian illustrator who has been living in Lisbon for 10 years now, he tells us about his journey, his inspirations, his projects and his life as a Lisbonian.

When did you start to do illustrations ? 

I started to do illustrations in 2010. I had my first illustration gig with a Romanian singer for a school of music. I started doing illustration at the univesity. Producing content for the university sparked my love for illustration.

What kind of illustrator are you? 

I think I'm between commercial and non-commercial. I do collaborations with brands, for local brands so I become more of a commercial illustrator. I work for editorial projects, such as book covers, magazines, advertising, posters, packaging and so on. I also did some merchandising, a little bit of everything. When I was a student, I concentrated on children books illustrations, but not anymore. I departed the world of children's books, but I am very inspired by comics. I actually started doing comics, but I never did more than six pages.

You did a book with a writer ? 

I did with a group of artists from Romania and with French professors. The French teachers came to our university, so we did a book together about this time period, the time I was studying. And then I did severals small comics for a Romanian magazine called Revista Comics. 

Is it a well-known magazine?

It's kind of the only one, I think. It's a collaborative magazine.

You work a lot with Romanians, in your country ? 

Not that much. I started there but I found my style in Lisbon, when I moved to Portugal. Before I left Romania, I was a little bit undecided about what path to take. And when I moved here, I started to work as a graphic designer and freelance as an illustrator. I started to define my style. I became more of an illustrator artist and Lisbon has really defined my style. I still work with Romanians, a few companies contacted me a few weeks ago to work together. But it's not like before, my name doesn't appear as much I think. (laughs)

Is Nicolae Negură your real name?

Yes, Negurã means mist or fog in English.

Oh cool, that's nice and sometimes you do fan art or fanzine?

If you're referring to my Instagram portraits. Yeah I did a lot of fan art from series.

Do you have tattoos? 

I don’t do tattoos myself, I draw for tattoos, but I am never satisfied, artistically speaking. I did color as well and black and white drawings for tattoos but they didn’t respect my drawing lines. One day, a guy asked me if he could use my drawing for his tattoo, and I said ok, but at the end, the line art was not nice, although it was a nice tribute to me. For the other tattoos, I was paid for the design, but when I saw the final result, I was oh oh (laugh). It was more an interpretation of my drawing.  

Personally, when I see your illustrations, I really feel the character and the scene. It's as if your illustrations are a movie scene. Do you work like a storyboarder ?

Is my process similar to storyboarding ? Yeah, I haven’t done storyboard for cinema, but when I was studying illustration, it was something I wanted to do actually. But I use  the same process. I do lots of sketches. I get a lot of inspiration from movies and I like cinematic or photographic scenes. 

Do you work for the cinema ?

I did some illustrations, I mean, I did some character designs for the movie, but the project did not go through. I drew the character design for this movie. But I don't know what happened. I also did posters for a short movie and one for a documentary. For the documentary it was graphic design, I offered them do illustration, but they preferred to go in a graphic design direction. It was nothing like I do today, it was graphic design.

Do you have a favorite film director ?

Charlie Kaufman, he did Being John Malkovich (1999). My favorite from him is Synecdoche New York (2008). I recommend it, it’s a very nice film, and it’s one of my favorite movies.

Who do you dream to work with?

The New Yorker, yes. I guess, it’s every illustrator’s dream. Actually I would love to work for Absolut Vodka, for Nike, they make nice illustrations but my main one is the New Yorker. I would love to make the cover of the New Yorker.  

So you work and live in Lisbon. What do you love doing in Lisbon ?

I like to go out. I like the nightlife here. Taking a walks strolling by the river and the beach. I like the Tagus, and my neighborhood, I live close to Graça.

Why did you chose to come to Lisbon ?

My sister did Erasmus here, and the idea had been in the back of my mind for many years.The first year, actually the first week, when I try to work as a graphic designer. I thought ok, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I need to travel to do something. So I applied for a volunteer project in Spain, Greece and Portugal. And the first one who answered me, was Portugal and they accept me. So I came here and got the scholarship.  

Are you working on new projects? And do you want to talk about it ?

It's in my head, it's cerebral. I said to myself, I'm going to rework my characters differently. I'll see when I'm done, I'm in no hurry. They're all personal. One of them is about to be finished. I did a personal project last year called "The First Quarantine". With the second quarantine I worked like the first version, but this time more about being trapped at home. This second version is about being trapped in our mind. After these several confinements, I think it's heavier for everyone. The second quarantine was more depressing, so the second part is about loneliness and being uncomfortable at home. I also did some larger acrylic paintings, as well as portraits and some landscapes. It's a project about not being able to fall asleep and about dreams.

Do you paint outdoors ?

Yes, I painted outside. It’s very nice, I prefer to paint outside. I didn't really go further with my work on the murals here. I made some and they are not that big. So I have not yet taken the step for realization on buildings. My last murals date back to  2019. I applied for projects, but I wasn’t picked. I will see in the future. I really enjoy painting outside. The people passing by, sometimes they bring food, water. It’s very nice, and it takes you out of the solitude of an artist, it’s a nice thing.

Are you a dreamer? Do you have intense dreams?

Dreams give me anxiety. That’s why I’m doing this project. I still have problems to fall asleep but less now. When I fall asleep, I get these intense strong heavy dreams. But now I’m better. Sometimes I write about it.  

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