Gemma Fontanals, former EINA Student, Gold LAUS Award for her Final Master’s Degree Project “FIERA"
Gemma Fontanals, former student of Illustration for Children's and Teenagers' Publications and the Master's in Graphic Design at EINA, the Final Degree Project for which has won a Gold Laus Award, tells us of her experience as an EINA Alumna.
First of all, many congratulations for the Gold LAUS Award for “FIERA”, your Final Master’s Degree Project on the Master's in Graphic Design. How did it all go?
Thanks a lot! Well, it all went really smoothly. After a very intense year, because the Master’s is pretty full-on, I had to do the final project, and I wanted to enjoy myself. That’s why I decided to the graphics for FIERA, a fictitious feminist fanzines fair, bringing together the two areas that matter to me most: self-publishing and the feminist struggle.
The result was powerful because it combined the freedom of the fanzine scene with the power of the feminist movement, adding to it a little fun and a bit of “teasing”, in-depth research and a lot of hands-on work. I was also lucky enough to work with Xavier Alamany as my tutor, who turned my freestyles into good and was able to guide me really well.
Once I’d completed and defended it, the school suggested submitting it to the LAUS Awards, and it was a good idea because we walked away with the top prize. And we’re all super-happy.
In fact, before the Master's in Graphic Design, you'd already studied the course in Illustration for Children's and Teenagers' Publications at EINA. What led you to do them?
Yes, that’s right! I’d just done Fine Arts and Philosophy, and I wanted to study more fun things.
I’d heard a lot of good things about the illustration course, and it was true, it was a year that I learned a lot, both from the teachers and my classmates. That led to the Baricela Collective, a group of girlfriends who draw together, go to fairs, do workshops (at the Barra de Ferro Arts Centre for the last Drawing Festival, for example) and self-publish things.
Studying illustration, I got quite involved in the school, I saw how it worked, and I talked myself into "spinning it out" a bit more. The Master's in Graphic Design grabbed my attention because in a short space of time, it offered many of the tools I needed, and because I saw possibilities of getting a job. And yes, it was incredibly intense but it worked: I now know a lot more things than I did before, and I’ve found a job where I draw and design and have a brilliant time.
Where are you working now?
I combine different things. In the mornings, I work for Gemma Terol, a fantastic designer with loads of experience. Normally we work for publishers and small businesses, but we’ve also done video clips, animation, and now we’re doing a study project. Some afternoons, I teach illustration at LCI Barcelona, a fashion design school. And I also get commissions, often for murals (for the Torelló Art School and Primavera Sound), and I do my own personal projects as and when I can (well enough).
What is it you most remember about your time at EINA?
What I remember most about EINA is that it was long distance away, but that every day I shared the return journey home with my classmates, and it was a lovely moment. I remember Rafa, there in the secretary’s office, who I was always asking for things and he always behaved better than good. Also, Miguel, Esther and Raffaele in the silk-screen printing workshop, where I spent many hours, and where the women at EINA called for recognition of International Women's Day. I remember my dealings with the teachers, the individual attention, the knowing our names, the being able to talk about things. I remember my classmates too, all with very different journeys and profiles, and I remember the sensation of being just a few of us and being able to organise ourselves to do things in an environment that always gave us more help than hindrances.
What do you think you learned at EINA that you’ve been able to contribute as an added value to your work?
What I learned at EINA is the basis for my work, rather than an added value! Besides all the curriculum stuff, both illustration and graphic design, and the complementary training you can do for yourself (the mock-ups and engraving workshops are brilliant), some of the things I took away from the school are the habit of giving and receiving feedback, taking criticism on board, understanding different work processes and seeing the worth of them, the attitude that you can do anything, and knowing you can always work more, but that there’s also a point where you have to stop, and that “submitted” is preferable to “lost in the infinite spiral of perfection”.
What are your plans for the future?
In the short term, carry on doing new things, and to get paid for most of them. In the long term, go back to my village and look after the chickens.