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Get Happy with the Illustrations of Judy Kaufmann

By Charles Purdy

Illustrator Judy Kaufmann describes her style as “colorful, passionate, and really happy”—and a tour through her portfolio does indeed put a smile on one’s face. The artist works on a diverse array of products: digital ads, editorial illustrations, children’s books, and more, and she shares her illustrations as an Adobe Stock premium contributor. Create Magazine recently spoke to Kaufmann from her studio in beautiful Barcelona, our conversation complemented by the merry calls of birds on her studio’s terrace.

Kaufmann created this poster for a collective show celebrating the third anniversary of the gallery Mitte Barcelona.

Originally from Santiago, Chile, Kaufmann has made her home in Barcelona since 2004. “The excuse,” she says of her decision to move to Barcelona, “was to study illustration.” Which she did, thereafter working as a designer and then as a freelance illustrator. When I asked her, “Why Barcelona?” We were both quiet for a moment before laughing together. Because the answer is obvious: Why not Barcelona?

“It’s an amazing city,” says Kaufmann. “It’s relatively small, but you have everything, and there are always a lot of things happening. People are really nice, living here is not too expensive, and there are a lot of designers and illustrators. I ride everywhere on my bike…I think the most important thing is the quality of life I can have here. People here don’t work too much. We are more concerned with enjoying life, time for yourself, time for a beer with friends. It’s easy to say that living in Barcelona is an obvious choice.”

Kaufmann’s illustrations for a children’s book

DRAWN TO DRAWING

Life’s pleasures are a major source of inspiration for Kaufmann, who says that she takes more from the world around her than from the world of illustration. She says, “I love to hear, play, and discover music; I love to read; I love to go to see contemporary dance, films, and other cultural things.” And these are all pleasures that Barcelona provides in abundance—as well as beaches and proximity to beautiful European destinations to explore.

Kaufmann created these illustrations for a cycling guide to Barcelona, published by Rapha in collaboration with Thames & Hudson.

Past work includes packaging for chocolates and for music CDs.

Kaufmann has done work for clients around the world—Levi’s, WeTransfer, Google, New York magazine, and Random House, to name just a few—as well as teaching classes at the University of Barcelona. But she says that most of her work these days is made up of personal projects, and she’s especially interested in working on children’s books. She has a couple of projects in the works, including an interactive children’s book she worked on with a friend who lives in Tel Aviv, a book she collaborated on with her identical twin sister, and a few solo projects.

Kaufmann says her drawings for the coloring/painting book Increchendo is one of her favorite recent projects. It’s full of the exuberant life that typifies her work.

Drawing is second nature, she says. It’s something she does naturally, as long as there is something to draw with and draw on, whether she’s in her studio—a co-working space with a hammock, a terrace, and many bird neighbors, which she shares with three other artists—or just having breakfast with her boyfriend and drawing on a napkin at the table.

A BOLD GRAPHICAL VOICE

While Kaufmann seeks publishers for some of her book projects, she is accepting assignments; she also sells her work in her online shop, as well as on Adobe Stock, where she makes her illustrations available as a premium contributor.

There is a lot to see in Kaufmann’s online shop—such as her Icon Prints series and the enamel pins based on those illustrations.  

Her distinctive style is evident in all of her creations—whether it’s chocolate packaging, a record cover, or her prints of well-known figures like Frida Kahlo, Audrey Hepburn, and Prince. She says she typically draws by hand before finishing her pieces digitally—but does occasionally work entirely by hand.

Kaufmann uses bright, strong color and graphic shapes to great effect; animals often feature prominently in her work. Images are cheerfully dynamic, though she also has the power to create drama and heavier emotions. Her landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits are full of life. Get your dose of happy—check out more of Kaufmann’s work on her portfolio website.