When we’re young, teeming with innocence and untamed curiosity, the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is often met with surprisingly simplistic answers. A teacher. A cop. Doctor. Fireman.
Claudia Aguirre wanted to be a paleontologist. At three years old. True story.
I don’t even think I knew what a paleontologist was until Jurassic Park came out, and even then I probably thought it involved slowly being hunted down by a pack of intelligent velociraptors with incredible door-opening abilities. Or otherwise ending up like Sam Jackson or that guy that played Newman on Seinfeld. Either way, my vision of it wasn’t so innocent.
Which brings me to my next point: Claudia Aguirre has a body of work that is spilling over with child-like innocence, and yet she is still able to maintain an artistic range that can cross-platform into multiple genres. She is a true artisan of many hats, juggling her weight in animation, graphic design, sequential art, and illustration. But she says that her true devotion lies in one thing:
“I am passionate about being a good storyteller.”
It’s evident from her work, such as Cat Scratch and her new upcoming project, The House of Dreams, with fellow artist and friend, Eva Cabrera, which platform she gravitates toward when it comes to telling stories. “I love being a comic artist/graphic novelist the most,” she says.
Claudia’s passion for art and her desire to tell stories, influenced by her own experiences, has made her a nomad in her life as much as in her creative endeavors. She was born and raised in Mexico, where she openly admits that her affection for her craft is not one that was often shared by other people.
“I consider myself a nomad because I’ve never felt a sense of belonging to my own country,” she says. “My ideals and goals were not well-viewed by my family and in the first stages of my life.” Growing up in a land of practical thinkers and engineers, as she describes, Claudia felt the need to carve her own path and broaden her horizons. “My life here has made me someone who is always eager to learn and who knows there are no limits to knowledge – which is in turn adapted to my art, experiences and stories.”
Claudia has loved art since she was young. Even her short-lived dream of being a paleontologist, however cute and ambitious, fell to the wayside in favor of pursuing her artistic goals. And that she did, becoming Lead Characer Designer and Lead Illustrator at Luciérnaga Studios in Mexico.
“Basically, everything illustration related, I got it done. I also did some comics when we had these awesome projects a while back, and I designed video game characters and world development for Facebook games,” she says, but the stress was not lost on her. “Basically, I did anything needed at the moment. Being a small studio, we got pretty rushed deadlines and no one else to do things!” Claudia has since moved on to another studio called Playful Interactive, a cool animation and interactive gaming house in Mexico where she is continuing to create character designs and illustrations and assisting in the completion of various other games, like Gambetas for Windows 8.
Claudia’s personal projects, however, are the stuff of comedy, stylistic integrity, fantasy, and as she eloquently puts it, “the wonders of small things.” She pulls her inspiration from the world around her and her personal upbringing.
“What first made me want to tell stories was my mother,” she says as she reminisces on her childhood. “She couldn’t stay awake due to my hyperactivity so she put on videos for me to watch while she took naps. I was absolutely in love with Don Bluth’s films and also some Disney ones. I always look back and get inspired by those old movies.”
Her webcomic CatScratch, which is inspired by her cat Oliver and his real-life comedic antics, is proof of Claudia’s ability to bring something whimsical and heartfelt to the sequential art form. Plus, it’s just so damn cute. Go ahead, look at it. I’ll wait.
Doesn’t that comic just make you want to hug something??
But no creative nomad is complete without exploring more than one realm of storytelling. Claudia decided to team up with Eva Cabrera to form Boudika Comics, a platform where each of these talented ladies can tell their own stories. Their first project you’ve heard me mention at the top of this article: The House of Dreams – a collaborative effort of short stories that has been in production for more than a year and is drawn and written by both Eva and Claudia.
“We’re celebrating life and death,” Claudia says about the project. “I draw inspiration from the things that makes us stronger, everyday situations mingled with magic. And she’s focusing on the things that drive us to temptation and ultimately, demise.”
Eva’s explosive style is the perfect complement to Claudia’s playful illustrations. “She’s a delight to work with usually,” Claudia says of her collaboration with Eva, “but she tends to be on the verge of over-perfectionist!” Still, the two seem to work well together. The artwork coming from The House of Dreams is absolutely beautiful. “We understand each other when doing comics, as if we’re talking in a different and secret language,” Claudia continues. “She’s the best comic book partner ever.”
Having a partner in crime is not such a bad thing when one considers herself a nomad in this game. Claudia has faced many obstacles in the wake of her desires to be a storyteller and comic book artist, including the notion that comics are not a viable form of entertainment. The other challenge, one she considers among the greatest she has faced, is a common one not lost on the comic book industry today.
“My greatest challenge is to overcome sexism,” Claudia says. “Even though people in the industry say they’re quite happy and open to have women in their ranks, they talk behind your back and treat you as if you’re not capable of doing a good job.” She adds to that statement with much conviction, “We’re fighting to change that.”
If being a nomad means carving your own road to success, despite the standards of other people or the current comic book industry, then Claudia is already on the right path. And teaming up with Eva Cabrera only makes the deal that much sweeter.
You can catch both Claudia and Eva at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco on October 13th and 14th at table 406. They’ll have plenty of copies of The House of Dreams with them along with other sweet merchandise. To learn more, check out the links below.
Until next time.
Claudia’s website: http://www.claudiaguirre.net/
Claudia’s Blog: http://www.thesapphorium.tumblr.com/
Claudia’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Boudika Comics Website: http://www.boudikacomics.com/
Boudika Comics on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BoudikaComics?fref=ts