Christian Montenegro is an Argentinian illustrator. He first studied comics in Alberto Breccia’s atelier and then graphic design at Buenos Aries University. His work has appeared in numerous magazines in the UK and USA as well as in illustrated books. His graphic design work has been for a diverse group of international clients that include Levi’s and Swatch.
Since 2002 he has worked with digital media combining concepts of design with his experience in comics. His style has been compared with a Lego system where simple shapes combine to make up a more complex whole. There is an intense attention to detail and brilliant use of colour in his highly designed geometric compositions.
when speaking of his childhood and his early influences as a designer he describes a world where his parents worked a lot of the time and the parenting came down to his Grandmother. He also says that he wasn’t a kid that played in the street that much. “I watched a lot of black and white TV. I’d see Japanese animation and a lot of American cartoons from the Golden Age. This was the typical arsenal of information available to a child of my age. Also I read comics and I was fascinated with airplanes. These were the things I drew from a very young age. At the time I only had two books on fine art.”
His teacher, Albert Breccia was the most renowned comics artist at the time in Argentina and a relative of Montenegro’s paternal Grandparents. To get the chance to learn from him was a great opportunity. Montenegro describes him as an excellent teacher who also taught a philosophy of work.“He used to say. You must put all of yourself on the drawing board.” The training in comics put him in good stead. “The process
is really complex, it bonds graphic design and narrative in the same space. The characters , the costumes, the light, the backgrounds, the point of view – All are up to you. In a way I would say its like making a movie all by yourself.”
While studying graphic design he says that he developed the idea of style as a graphic system and that both the preparations of comics and graphic design complemented each other in his later illustration work.
Montenegro draws in Illustrator and finishes off in Photoshop. He says he never starts to work on the computer without previous pencil sketches. He carefully reads the text and gets a visual concept. The background is the basis and even though he says that the final solution may be nothing to do with it the end result is the consequence of the first step.
“I’m interested in all the graphics of humankind. All that concerns the human sphere. I’m interested in all that we call culture [man made]. I get a lot of ideas from this.”
“The divisions between disciplines, in the way we know them, have never existed – not since Adam and Eve! For example, the concept of Fine Art didn’t start until the 18th Century. As society changes, the concept about low and high culture changes too.”
Montenegro considers himself as an illustrator who uses elements of graphic design . The line between the disciplines is unclear. To him the line between all visual disciplines is unclear and that its best to take from the total sum.