Marly Gallardo is an Ecuadorian illustrator based in New York City. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and has gained international recognition for her conceptually driven artwork. Her work has appeared in campaigns and editorial publications for clients including The New York Times, United Nations, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Adobe and more
How would you describe your work?
Like a dream. My sentimental narratives explore fantastic elements in the everyday world. I also work with a romantic blue palette that enhances this mood.
What’s your preferred medium to express yourself and your work? How did you come into working that way?
Coming from a fine arts background I start a piece with traditional media, pencil and paper, then expand on this foundation drawing with digital programs, primarily Adobe Illustrator. I picked up this process my last year of college because I was broke and could not afford to purchase pricey paint anymore. Digital media is affordable and travel friendly.
What triggers your imagination?
I’m a daydreamer and I like to capture moments where elements of my fantasy world join this everyday rational world. I call it portals. These magical portals and elements manifest themselves as clouds, palm trees, tropical items from my childhood into narrative scenes. I find music helps me become more sensitive into finding this inspiration. While I’m commuting I listen to a Chet Baker, Miles Davis, LCD Soundsystem track from my studio playlist and wait with sketchbook and pencil in hand.
What are some of Instagram accounts that you particularly enjoy or get inspiration from?
I’m really enjoying the creative direction of @kingkongmagazine. I swipe over to @screensaviors for design humor. @tinycactus and I often explore similar portal concepts, she’s amazing. Lastly, my animated crush @rhymezlikedimez.
What was your dream growing up?
It was simple yet specific, to live in a New York corner window apartment and just draw. At young age my family and I immigrated to Jersey City from Ecuador and opened a family restaurant. Sometimes I would sneak off to the Lower East Side walk around with my sketch book and sit on stoop imagining I lived in one of the buildings. Now I do in Brooklyn.
What has become most important to you or your work at this moment in your life?
The need to story tell. I want to share more of the worlds I grew up in. My bicultural childhood between North and South America has given me first hand experience into the rapid changes in landscape and lifestyle that have occurred in both. Today the world is much different to that of my summer’s laying in hammocks and running around my barrio. Canoes and horses are replaced by motorcycles, and all activities revolve around smartphones. All these changes energize me to push latin magical realism in my artwork.
Is there any specific moments or memory in your life that pushed you definitely towards the arts or pursuing your creative ambitions?
I have been drawing since before I could write my name. As a child my grandma would dictate our grocery list for our trips to the market and I would draw it out. There was never anything else I wanted to pursue.
What does your work mean to you?
My work is an extension of myself. It is a visual representation of everything that I feel and goes on in my mind.
What is your definition of art?
Oof that’s a loaded one. I would say self expression communicated visually.
How do you see your work playing into and responding to the current conversations happening in art and culturing?
My primary work comes from editorial commissions. About every week I’m delivered creative briefs concerning current events and I interpret it visually for publications. My response to any event is visual and it does not follow any on-trend aesthetic but my own artistic voice. Don’t adhere your artwork to follow popular trends, I try to make this point across in my talks.
Are there any upcoming projects we should know about?
I just arrived in Tokyo for a month stay. After some hectic months of commissions I'm taking a break to create personal pieces. Stay tuned via my Insta @marlygallardo.