Spotlight: Interview with Jabier Erostarbe

We are pleased to introduce Jabier Erostarbe, an artist based in the Basque country specialising in watercolour and ink drawings who has recently joined the ODI network.

As a child, you would spend hours reading and creating your own stories – what characters would you create? Which comics inspired you?

I think that in this world there are lots great stories to tell about unknown people who have had great courage and bravery in confronting the difficulties of life and have been a great example for all. These stories inspire me.

Since I was a child, I have been a reader of comic books and the most interesting ones were Westerns comics. When I became a young boy I began drawing and creating stories. The first one was “La nueva era del sueño” ( in English “The new era of the dream”). It is about the adventures of a Peruvian immigrant child of 12 years in Australia. Years later I published another comic called “Mattin basoko gidaria” ( in English “Mattin the forest guide”). It is about a young boy who helps pilots crossing the border from France to Spain during the second world war.

It’s clear that art is something deeply engrained for you, but was there ever a question of becoming something other than an artist?

If I couldn´t be an artist I would like to do something related to geography. I love to read books about people from all over the world and find in maps different places (countries,cities and towns) where they come from.

Detailed, realistic illustrations of birds often feature in your work, is there a lot of nature to work from where you live in the Basque country? What’s your process from inspiration to completion for these works?

Yes, the Basque Country is very green with a large fauna, we have a lot of mountains and we also have some beaches. I live in a town called Oñati very close to the mountains and there are lots of farms in it so I am used to seeing animals. But I also like to have a walk to see different animals in their natural habitat.

In the Basque Country we have the second Europe’s largest forest called “IRATI”. It is beautiful!

You work in both traditional and digital media, what would you say are the advantages and challenges of each?

Honestly, I prefer to draw by hand, I think that it is more authentic and the work is more elaborated. But nowadays the digital work is essential and facilitates things, especially takes less time and it is important for printing.

I’m very fond of your illustration of the Mongolian girl peeking out from under her fur hat, what’s her story?

This painting is special for me. I am very interested in nomad people from Mongolia. I collect articles from magazines and newspapers about these amazing people. And this little girl photo was in one of these articles and she captivated me. She looked so happy living with her family , laughing with the lamb and without computers or electronic machines. It is true that the smile of a child is more beautiful than the most valuable jewel.

What’s captured your imagination at the moment?

Before painting, I like to take my time thinking about what to paint and sometimes takes me minutes but other times I have something in mind but I need more time to create some ideas. When I feel ready to paint it is the most pleasant moment and I enjoy making my thoughts.

Finally, what would be your perfect brief to work on in the future?

In these moments I’m painting about the nature (landscapes and animals) but I’m also painting houses and buildings from different countries, I think they are very interesting and part of the identity of each country. I can paint a typical English pub,  an “horreo” from Portugal, a traditional Iceland cabin or a cottage in Ireland.

To see samples of work from Jabier’s portfolio, click here

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