She draws women. Resolutely. Other things as well, but principally women. Best known for her evocative ink-on-paper silhouette nudes. Tana Latorre, born in Kenya, educated in France and Switzerland and now settled in Barcelona, is an illustrator who captures the subtle essence of femininity with nothing more than a line and a transparent background.
Her creations have been printed onto many garments for Nice Things and Paloma Wool. But that is far from all. She also works in communication and participates in other initiatives. When time permits, she loves to spend time alone and craves silence. Just one of the intimate details she shared with us when we interviewed her; an experience that was every bit as charming and delightful as her drawings. She also admitted to being a ring-addict (which we love!) and revealed that some of her pieces of work are for her eyes only and, unfortunately for us, are likely to stay that way…
Tana, define yourself in three words.
Open, scatter-brained and manic.
Can you tell us a little about your life and career up to this point.
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and lived there until I was 13 as my parents were working for the United Nations there. Then I moved to Geneva where I studied for my baccalaureate. Then I started studying art at the University of Paris, going on to compete my graphic design degree at the Eina University School of Design and Art in Barcelona. And I never left. In fact, this is home for me, my family is from here. I’ve been living in Barcelona for 10 years, where I’m involved with two fashion-related projects: Nice Things and Paloma Wool. I create their prints and look after brand communication and projection for them on an international level. Apart from those two major projects, which take up most of my time, I am also part of the Casa Bonay art direction team.
When did you decide you wanted to work in illustration?
I guess when I realised that I could make a living doing the thing I enjoyed most. I can’t put a specific date on it, but I do have one memory that made a profound impression on me: when I was 6 years old my father made a print from one of my drawings and he showed it to his friends and said it was a Miró. Amazingly, people believed him. That made me realise that I had to keep drawing because people liked my drawings.
Who are your influences?
Helen Frankenthaler, I’m fascinated by Alexander Calder (and his mobiles!) and Picasso, he taught me how to draw.
And your sources of inspiration?
Anything that means escaping from routine and stepping outside my comfort zone inspires me. From going to an exhibition to getting lost out in the middle of nature.
How do you go about developing a project?
When I’m working as part of a team, it’s a joint approach. When I’m working alone, I start with something that inspires me and then, usually on Sundays, settle down to paint at home. As I lived in Kenya I’m obsessed with the hair salon illustrations from there. That’s been my inspiration for a number of paintings that have never been exhibited and I don’t think they ever will be. They are personal projects that I keep for myself.
What role do woman play in your work?
A very important one. The female form was the first thing I started to draw that was based on something real. As a child I drew imaginary things without any attempt at reflecting reality, but when I started university I spent three years doing life drawings of female nudes. And it became an obsession. I started out doing very realistic portraits and gradually evolved to producing totally linear silhouettes. The reason I keep doing it is because it’s something I never get tired of. My work is a tribute to women.
What kind of jewellery would the women you draw wear?
None. Because my women are nothing but a simple essence, a line…
And you? Are you a jewellery person? What do you like?
Yes! I wear a lot of jewellery. I love it! Right now I’m wearing six rings, a bracelet and a medallion necklace. Rings are an obsession for me. I wear a lot of gold, more than anything. I love diamonds and pearls as well but I don’t own any.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I enjoy silence and being alone. It doesn’t matter where.
Do you have any particular favourites in your portfolio of projects?
I created my first series of portraits when I was a teenager after visiting an exhibition by Lucian Freud. They were 3 x 2 m portraits and were of my best friend and my partner at the time. Unfortunately, my parents threw them away during a move. I don’t have anything, not even a sketch. But they are still in my head and I have a very special affection for them, because they were my first large-format pieces.
An evocative landscape
The light before a storm, with that touch of yellow that settles over the green of the landscape when the sky is grey. When I see that it takes my breath away.
A person to draw.
My friend Pepi de Boissieu, someone who definitely merits a tribute.
A work of art.
A Calder mobile.
¿Which of the pieces in our AW18 collection do you particularly like?
I love the rings in the Forge and Athena collection. Particularly the gold versions. As is said, I’m a real lover of anything gold!