Giovanna Constantini, coordinator of the FAADA communication area, interviews Roger Olmos, vegan illustrator. Illustrations that help us bring hidden truths in the form of visual poems where the viewer does not have his guts turn when he sees the images.
Who is Roger Olmos and how did he start his artistic career?
I am someone who observes how an old chain that supports a door has left a pendulous groove in the wall after years and years of releasing the lock and letting it fall. I look at the very small details that have taught me that when making an illustration they make it come to life. It gives them a past and future, escaping from the snapshot shown on paper. Cheerful, with an easy laugh and a lot of tears in the face of emotionally intense scenes.
I started as a super dwarf, already in school like everyone else. Unlike the others, perhaps it is that I never left it, and I had a hand for it, I deduced it because my drawings were always hanging in the office of the "dire". The culprit of this is my lord father, who was a graphic of the time, gouache, airbrush and Letraset scratch scratch but no prize (I sucked all that). Approved basic studies of "rasquis" for always going "empanao", I enter the Llotja school in Barcelona and there I discover children's illustration and its humorous-imaginative possibilities. And since then it has been a non-stop ...
Why are animals so present in your work?
The non-human animal kingdom has always played a very important role in children's literature, especially in picture books. Among other things, I love drawing animals, they are very different between species, colors, textures, sizes, the possibility of exaggerating their proportions, endowing them with different psychologies without fear that they are too monstrous since, as they are not human at all, we do not terrorize the potential reader infant. And at the work level he is also very distracted. Apart from this, I love to show animals close to the protagonists, also thinking that the kids empathize with them, like them, take affection, respect them. That at the end of the day is what all this is about.
Most children's illustrations show us images of happy and happy “farm”, “circus”, “zoo” animals: why is the reality that you draw different?
For me they are concentration camps, prisoner animals deprived of their freedom being fattened to take advantage of them in the most agonizing way for them and economical for the farmer. It is not a place to tell happy stories for kids. There for me there is only cruelty, exploitation, stress, disease, blood and death.
I am more in favor of that if we want to show those places, okay, let's do it because we exist, they exist, but we don't lie
Let's show how they train wild animals with brutal methods so that they fear the whip, so that they know that there will be punishment if they do not do it well. Those who live deprived of freedom, chained and locked up, who long to run, their natural habitat, their herd, are not happy. They are the opposite of happy.
What do you think would change for the animals if all the children's books and illustrations decided to change the story and follow your line?
For children and parents it would be a great lesson. And that in the long run would make them see the cages differently. I am in favor of the fact that in literature, whether for children or young people, from fantasy or reality, we authors have an educational function, and this must be positive, both to show cruel realities and to give joy or laugh. But we cannot lie. Imagine that in all homes, schools, libraries, reading clubs etc. In all these sessions, whether individual or collective with the kids, it will begin to reinforce and insist that neither zoos nor circuses nor dolphinariums nor farms are places where they have a good time. We will begin to talk about animal sanctuaries, to protect them, not to deprive them of their freedom, and those who cannot live free, then take care of them, adopt and not buy….
How did you start your collaboration with FAADA?
He made illustrations that he sold and the profits he donated to some causes. I looked at his work, since it is very plural. They defend all animals and work very effectively and professionally. And almost the entire Foundation is made up of highly trained, involved, and very talented women, I loved the concept.
I got involved with counseling issues for some rescues and volunteers. And to this day I continue to actively collaborate in several of their projects and campaigns.
Can you tell us how SIN PALABRAS was born?
Actually SP was my partner's idea. She suggested that I do something animalistic, ethical. I was already vegan and I had been shocked by Earthlings a lot, and I believed that everyone should see it. So I started thinking about it.
Some time later, we proposed it to FAADA and they liked the idea. Then I decided to go further, focus on more areas, and in my eagerness to communicate with the image I wanted to do something that I had not seen so far. Bringing hidden truths in the form of visual poems where the viewer does not turn his guts when seeing the images. And that it was he himself who discovered the answer to how absurd, cruel or selfish we humans are, without realizing it.
Friends came some time after SP, and it was due to a comment made to me by the journalist Ruth Toledano. She told me that she felt betrayed since childhood, that all those cartoons that she saw, the stuffed animals that she had, how she fell in love with animals that she encountered during her childhood, then without realizing it, her family would put them in pieces on a plate to eat them. And I said, you're right! That comment was spinning in my head until one day I mentioned it to my editor in Italy, who was the one who, together with FAADA, published SP. He liked the idea, and took out the book. Here the visual again takes on a lot of importance. There is no text, they are all evocative images, and the effort consists of the person looking at the book, empathizing with the girl, and it has been.
Any particular feedback that has particularly excited you?
The final hug image has turned out to be almost a symbol in the world of veganism. I have seen it reproduced in ten thousand different places, throughout the world, in tattoos, on murals, illustrating reports that I have found on the internet. People who have used it to illustrate their sentences ... I don't know, in many places. Or the chained elephant too. The image gives a lot of play, and I love it.
This is an interview for GOOD AND VEGAN, are you vegan?
Yes, it will be quite a few years, about ten ... I don't know (I'm very bad at counting). Before, I used to eat everything and I loved animals, unable to hurt a fly and I would get angry and yell and enrage to kill anyone I saw hitting an animal. But of course, I was missing the click!
One day my partner asked me to watch a documentary, Earthlings, she no longer ate meat from a very young age. I couldn't finish it. I decided to become a vegetarian, and after three days a vegan. And what am I going to tell you, always in a good mood, I feel good and on top of that I don't bitch anyone. You realize that you are not being consistent with yourself ... and that is important to me. Be consistent and respectful.
Author: Giovanna Constantini, Coordinator of the FAADA Communication Area