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My folio highlight: Catalina Estrada

Barcelona-based illustrator Catalina Estrada’s designs are visibly inspired by the shapes, textures and colours of nature, but a visit to an educational project in Colombia prompted a deeper connection that tapped into her own childhood memories.

Why did you pick this as a personal highlight?
This piece is part of one of my favourite ever projects. Two years ago I visited Laboratorio del Espíritu, an NGO in Colombia, and its educational project completely stole my heart. I started working on a series of illustrations inspired by poetry written by children there. The idea was to use them to make notebooks and scarves, which could be sold to raise funds for the NGO.

What do you love most about it?
Many of the kids attending the NGO’s Library have very sad stories, and when I read their notebooks I was blown away by the power of their words and their ability to express their feelings so clearly. Their affinity with nature was mesmerising and I was absolutely inspired by what I read. I feel like in some way I managed to connect with the strength of their words. I feel extremely proud to have been part of such amazing project.

Where did you draw your inspiration?
This particular piece was inspired by a poem by 12-year-old Jonathan Camilo Arias Hincapié about going to help his grandpa; going fishing with him and collecting berries and guavas. The poem is so graphic in itself that it was very easy to get inspired by each word; by the emotions and affection that it breathes. I could see the colours and shapes of the guavas, the blackberries and the fish. It reminded me of the love that I feel for nature, and my own memories of growing up in the Colombian countryside.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve been inspired by?
Probably the little hand-crocheted doilies made by my mother, and the colours she uses in them. I find the colour palettes very inspiring for lots of pieces of work.