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Angel Dominguez – Spain’s leading illustrator in the tradition of the Golden Age

NEWS ALERT _ This last week Angel was announced the winner of an award for THE JUNGLE BOOK  as the best illustrated book in Spain for 2010!

Interview with Spain’s leading illustrator, The Golden Age continues!

Angel Dominguez [for sketch of Captain Cleveland]

Angel Dominguez - for sketch of Captain Cleveland

Jennifer: Fans of Dulac and Rackham do not despair, they have a worthy successor. The art of Angel Dominguez has already been compared to the master illustrators of the Golden Age of book illustration. He has the vibrant colour and pattern of Dulac and both the delicate and the quirkily grotesque approach to fantasy characterisation for which Rackham was famous. Angel, I believe you formally started your career in illustration in 1971? What influenced you to choose such a career? Are there other artists in your family background?

Angel: “Curiously and curiously” as Alice says… because my master is Arthur Rackham, but you´re right,  I also love Edmund Dulac. Many people say I´m more like Dulac. In writing on the topic,“The Master illustrator of the Golden Age of book illustration”, you must write about Rackham and Dulac, both have the same quality and charm.

I had an uncle, who was a very good painter in oils. So if you ask about genetics, I think that maybe there is a link, but to be an artist it is really only necessary to love art and all that’s around us.

Captain Cleveland

Captain Cleveland

My strongest influence in choosing to illustrate children’s books was Arthur Rackham without a doubt. I remember, as a child, having a book in my hands with a little and awful reproduction of “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” from Alice in Wonderland. It was so bad, I was even unable to read the signature of the artist…but, in that moment, I knew I wanted to do that wonderful kind of art. I fell in love with that imaginative place too, the Mad Hatter and the other characters, with that cottage and background… I felt a lot of sensations, good inner reactions to that technique of painting. I WANTED to do the same! And further, visiting London, I saw a lot of books by that artist… and now I have nearly all his books on my shelves. I did Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland with Artisan of New York and I was the happiest man on Earth. I did The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with special affection, and the original was sold quickly. People even asked me to paint other ‘originals’ of that same scene.

Jennifer: Who were the artists, you feel, had the most influence on your style as a young illustrator and why?

Angel: If we talk about fantasy (also I´m wildlife artist) my strongest influential artists were:


All the amazing paintings on the walls of the caves, from Altamira, the best, I think, to all others around the world, in the deserts of Africa, America…


I love each nationality of artists in the wild, for all of the continents, but specially the Australian Aborigines, they painted wonderful art on rocks and on bark… I was so inspired, I also did some paintings in this medium.

3rd COMIC:

Alex Niño, Moebius, Bernie Wrightson, Sergio Toppi, Josep Mª Beá, Carlos Giménez… a lot of the world of comic.


Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, John Bauer, Beatrix Potter, Kay Nielsen… a lot too.


Speaking of ART… I must mention too Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele… and the masters of China and Japan, specially Hokusai, whose books on Manga were one of the most wonderful pieces of art that I ever saw.

Jennifer: What inspires you most in the creation of your art?

Mowgli and the Wolves

Mowgli and the Wolves

Angel: Animals and plants… Nature, Beauty and Love.

A beautiful lady, a nice orchid, a wonderful gorilla, an elephant… the amazing giraffe, that incredible animal which still is with us on this planet. The blue whale… the little mice, the birds… with colors and forms without end.

Aesop's Fables - The Vain Jackdaw

Aesop's Fables - The Vain Jackdaw

To save the wonderful creatures in this amazing world is in the forefront of my interest, so, painting them to show all their beauty and their interaction with their interesting human companions as they appear together in the wild, this is my goal. As Sir David Attenborough said, he likes to show nature’s wonders in order to preserve them; he never liked to do movies withdistressing messages to the innocent bystander who was at home sitting in their chair.” But it´s difficult, you cannot forget, for example, the bushmen of the Kalahari desert, who are disappearing so fast, already it is a challenge to find a family complete – and all due to the diamonds under their feet… and the powerful people don´t know that the true diamonds are these very same tribes folk?

Celtic inspiration - detal

Celtic inspiration - detail

The variation in art inspires me… I see a wonderful book on Celtic art and I WANT to do Celtic art… I see an interesting carved wood or stone… and I would like to do the same. In fact, I saw a picture by Arthur Rackham and that was the start in my career as illustrator, I wanted to do images like that.

Jennifer: Every body is different some can only paint when inspired, some have a daily routine. How do you approach your work?

Angel: Setting down to work is a daily ‘routine’, constantly having in mind the sketch book for each work in which roughs are done when I´m inspired, so, the results come together in the right way. Routine is a word that artists must categorise as ‘forbidden’. In fact, I hate schedules, or… I´m unable to use them, so, let me see… I think that I don´t use schedules nor “daily routine” per se! This, speaking of my work in the fantasy genre only, because I also work on wildlife art, which is the easiest for me, and in this case, routine isn’t a trouble to me. The truly ‘work’ of art is the fantasy world. The inevitable is to work hard.

Jennifer: Does your native region of Basque Country, its geography, history and legends play a part in who you are as an artist and has it influenced your style? I know you travel in Europe and the United Kingdom and Celtic influences are obvious in your love of delicate, interwoven patterns and symbols. How have they come to be part of what is your signature style?

Basque influence - Mari, Queen of the Basque

Basque influence - Mari, Queen of the Basque

Angel: As a Basque, I think that the woods of this country inspired me as much as the wild life of England near where Rackham lived at Arundel, inspired him; he loved trees, me too. The mountains and nature of Basque Country are a magnificent source of inspiration to me, and have been from my childhood. Also the Basque Myths are interesting to me, and our books are feature plenty of faery characters of all kinds, … perfect for my fantasy.

Of course, every time I do a trip, I take a lot of sketches and photographs, I want to carry with me every wonder that I find. I like the Pubs of London a lot, I have photographs of almost every one of them, and I wanted to do a book only on pubs… well, I did some pictures and two of them were printed in my book Diary of a Victorian Mouse. One of these Pubs, The Porcupine, did a set of postcards of my drawing in this book, and they were sold in that Pub. To drink a pint of good beer looking at these postcards was a nice moment.

Also, I knew in England the wonderful Celtic art in the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels, what a collection of striking calligraphy and patterns and borders… I love all of these wonderful books.

Jennifer: You have an obvious love for storytelling, your pictures talk to the viewer, do you deliberately put layers of story into your works or is this a right brain thing that happens as part of the creative process?

Arabian Nights - Mediterranean, Moroccan and Basque influences

Arabian Nights - Mediterranean, Moroccan and Basque influences

Angel: Both, I think. We the illustrators, well, the artists in general, we put in our creations our acquired culture throughout our lives, spontaneously, and those details which aren´t spontaneous, with hard work. So, the viewer can admire our culture and enjoy our hard work.

Jennifer: You have a very keen eye for detail, especially in your drawings of wildlife. But your animals are more than just good anatomical representations, they leap from the page! Do you carry a sketchbook with you, a camera or do you rely on memory or zoological sources?

Angel: Again, both, every tool helps me. My sketchbook, my camera, my memory… AND… my loved books, movies, stamps and cards. Memory is the less important. Having talked about memory’s role in our work with my artists friends, all agree in this, and more… I know a gag:

-“I heard that memory is the intelligence of fools”… said a man to a friend…

-“Yes, and so it is because I forget everything”.

Always I carry a little sketchbook with me, and when a good idea comes, I draw it… and after, I put it in larger sketchbooks, which often have better drawings than in the same published books!

Jennifer: Can you share with me and the readers some of your earliest experiences with art?

Angel: The very first, as a baby… was an “O” filled with a pencil… I needed to fill that blank room. Well, this book, of my father, is still with me, and I have no better drawings with me from my childhood, which was awful. Due to the work of my father, we were doing trips up and down to many places, and all my drawings from school and that which I did at home were lost… a pity… and they were a lot indeed. This happened to Hokusai too, but worse; all the first pictures, from a wonderful stage in his life, disappeared in a fire that burned his house… and, further, he never was able in to do them again, although he did try to recreate them.



Further, as a youngster, I did comics, and I won two first prizes, with my creation Fedra, a woman of the future as heroine… and I´m thinking of following up with further work on her some day, not too much later on. I have some good ideas for her, but in the form of a book not as a comic.

Jennifer: You have done some outstanding work illustrating new editions of such all time classics as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Wind in the Willows”. This must have presented some unique challenges.

How do you approach a project such as “Alice in Wonderland” which has already had many well know illustrators put their stamp on it?

Alice and the Duchess from Alice in Wonderland

Alice and the Duchess from Alice in Wonderland

Angel: Easy for me, I love Alice in Wonderland very much… I approached this story WITH EMOTION, which is THE GOAL OF ART, as another artist said, Goyo Dominguez –not a relative. I love this special world created by Carroll so much, that not only do I love the story but each of the characters, of course, the writer, the illustrated editions… England, in a word. I wanted to go to England to feel the origin of the book, the mood… to visit a lot of bookshops, to buy a lot of old books, not only of Alice, but of the Victorian times. Each part of my book is full of plenty of messages.

And, if you look closely at many Victorian times (Carroll’s time), The Great Exhibition was held in the Crystal Palace… The objects on display came from all parts of the world, including India and the countries with recent white settlements, such as Australia and New Zealand, that constituted the new empire.

So, I took advantage of this event which, at that time, had the effect of familiarizing English society with foreign wildlife, to paint the wonderful animals that you have there in Australia into the illustrations.


If you ask to me about the very first approach to this book I must say that I had two pencil drawings from many years ago… and my wife said me:

“Angel, you must finish that pair of drawings and send them to a publisher”. I did it… and the answer, from Artisan (WORKMAN, of New York):

-“Please do you be so kind to paint another six watercolors”… and I did it… and the contract arrived fast.

And about other ‘meaning’… I approached the story having in mind a lot of things, not only the many illustrators, and Disney´s wonderful characters, but thinking to do a VERY good work… and I think that I did it, because the edition of 25.000 items were sold.

Also I´m thinking of doing a book on this book… with a lot of interesting things from Carroll´s world, the jokes, characters and details that I included.

[Rabbit sends in a little Bill – Alice in Wonderland]

There Goes Bill

Some details are hidden… as my own wife said, I work a lot on each plate… so much of that spontaneously included ‘meaning’ is lost.

[There goes Bill – Alice and Wonderland]

Mr. Mole - Wind in the Willows

Mr. Mole - Wind in the Willows

As yet I haven’t illustrated The Wind in the Willows… I only drew a pair of watercolors… and already they have been sold in England. They have yet to see the light in the form of a book… who knows, may be that will be my last book to illustrate, as Rackham himself did.

Jennifer: What stories and books hold fondest and earliest memories for you? Do they play, do you think, a part in your choice of projects?

Angel: Of course, Alice is one of them. I read it many years ago, many times… and, as I think that half my soul is English, I understood it very well, and I enjoyed it… specially in thinking to illustrate it.

Other good books to me are:

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ratty and Mole - The Wind in the Willows

Ratty and Mole - The Wind in the Willows

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame

PETER PAN by James Barrie

THE UGLY DUCK, the best tale I think.

CINDERELLA, another strong story.

UNDINE by Baron de la Motte-Fouqué, another of the greatest.

PINOCCHIO by C.Collodi.

GRIMM´S Fairy Tales

Marquis of Carabas [Puss in Boots]

Marquis of Carabas - Puss in Boots


A lot of books and stories… difficult to remember all of them and not wanting to bore people. And of course these stories are part of my life and my love for my profession.

Jennifer: Where are you hoping to take your art to next? What projects are coming up?

Angel: As I learned from my English friends, it is often preferable not talk about them. This is done with a number of intentions… it prevents the risk of  ideas being copied. To chose a book to do already is an idea, specially when a classic. And to the readers, if the project doesn’t go ahead, that is disappointing news… and if appears as a surprise, it´s good news, something interesting.

Layering and Symbolism - Mowgli and his wolf Mother

Layering and Symbolism - Mowgli and his wolf Mother

I can say that I´m currently working on The Jungle Book by Kipling.  I must get that finished this very month. Also I´m proud to said that I´m working on books with friends from JacketFlap. I´ll find free time to paint good watercolors for good stories that suit my style a lot. I must say that, at JacketFlap, I have found very good friends, not only Tracy and Eric, but others as wonderful models for my pictures. Artists are always searching for good models, and here I found a lot, who were happy to let me draw them. I have a lot of friends as models, not only in Spain, but in the States and in England. It´s funny when I gift some book to them… some have been very touched. One lovely lady cried with joyous surprise when she saw herself portrayed in a color plate in a book on pirates.

Jennifer: Have you ever thought of designing film sets or dabbling in animation? Tim Burton has brought some darker legends to life in an animated film noire for older children. Have you ever thought of doing something like this?

Angel: By the way, there´re a possibility that I can work with Tim in the movie of Alice which he is working on right now!. I´ll keep you posted if this goes ahead.

The Arabian Nights - Silhouette

The Arabian Nights - Silhouette

I have some part of my brain that thinks along the same lines as Burton, but not specially in relation to the dark side of those stories, but the fantasy element. For example, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow also is one of my favourite books, also illustrated by Rackham. Not all are dark, if you see Corpse Bride, you’ll agree that it’s a tender love story. And the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas is tender too, with the sad or smiling face, long legs, walking and dancing and singing all the time.

Yes, always I loved animated films, specially Disney´s, and movies are part of our lives. And it´s a matter of luck to find someone to work with. For example, also I have a friend who can introduce me to James Cameron´s movies, and the last movie, AVATAR was suitable for me to paint the creatures, but I arrived late to this project and the Blue Lady, the main character I think, is very different than the one I could create… mine would be without tail. I knew the thriller version of this movie due to my American friend, and I envy that wonderful life in other world. Si-Fi is one of my preferences in books and movies. I love the books by Ray Bradbury, I have all of them. And I think that Arthur C. Clarke is good indeed, but I prefer the poet Bradbury, I feel his world as if it were mine. I´m pretty sure that Bradbury is the best writer in the world. I would like to illustrate each of his books or to do all of them in movies.

When I was very young I liked animation a lot, to work in this world was a dream, but right now I like more doing good illustrations to books, or backgrounds and creating characters to the movies.

Anaconda- Front Cover art

Anaconda- Front Cover art

Jennifer: Lastly, Angel, is there a question you would like to answer, something I have not covered? Now is your chance to cover it!


Being a book illustrator, I have been fortunate to find a lot of wonderful friends and have had many  unique life experiences. I have fans in England, USA and Australia right now… I traveled to many interesting places, but the most fascinating of them was Jordania, where I met  Queen Rania and I collaborated on  a book with her! Also I´m working in four projects with friends I have met through Jacketflap.

Also I want to express  how grateful I am to the publishers of all the world, without them, we, the illustrators cannot apply our art:


-ARTISAN of New York.

-JUVENTUD of Barcelona.

-IBAIZABAL AND ELKAR of Basque Country.


Lastly, I wish PEACE in the world… all of us must take advantage of every opportunity to tell how important is to save the world from a sooner end. This interview is such an opportunity.

One of the wisest men in the world, Jose Luis Sampedro, a Spanish writer and a very old and peaceful man, said yesterday on TV in Spain that the end of the world is in the hands of the powerful people but crisis doesn’t damage them, so, they don´t want to look for a solution.

And I add from sayings by the native Americans, the Indians, one of their best sayings, “money can’t be eaten, and that when water is scarce and air becomes unbreathable, there will be no money to fix it.”

Angel is holding two exhibitions in Britain. The link to the  first is below.

At Salisbury Museum, you can see the exhibition of Angel’s originals of Alice in Wonderfland, together with his illustrations for Narnia and Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.  The items are for sale.

Alice in Wonderland

Down the Rabbit Hole - on sale at "The Wonder of Illustration" Exhibition, Salisbury Museum

Down the Rabbit Hole - on sale at "The Wonder of Illustration" Exhibition, Salisbury Museum

T-Shirts featuring designs based on Angel’s paintings are now available [including of the white rabbit painting to right]. Price: 20 euros.
Quality: Fruit of the Loom, High quality.

The shirts can be purchased by contacting Angel or Carmen Dominguez:



A number of signed prints are also available for purchase. See below:

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, signed print for sale.

Alice dreams... signed print for sale

Down the rabbit hole... signed print for sale

Example of Alice in Wonderland T-Shirts

Angel's Alice in Wonderland now available on t-shirts

Nature study - Butterfly

Nature study - Butterfly

23 responses to “Angel Dominguez – Spain’s leading illustrator in the tradition of the Golden Age

  1. wonker March 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

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    • jrpoulter May 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

      Thank you Sarah :)) – yes Angel is TOTALLY AMAZING! He has a deservedly devoted following! Best Jennifer

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  5. Peter Taylor March 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks so much, Jennifer and Angel. That was most interesting.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Taylor

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  7. E. R. Stanton March 27, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Wonderful interview, Jennifer!

  8. Mike Emeny March 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    The Wonder of Illustration Exhibition details can be viewed by visiting http://www.booksillustrated.com/en-UK/the-wonder-of-illustration.
    This page gives details of the two illustration shows ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ illustrated by Angel Dominguez and ‘The Chronilces of Narnia’ illustrated by Andrew Skilleter (the Dr Who illustrator). There is also a colouring competition http://www.booksillustrated.com/en-UK/alice-colouring-in-competition where an Angel Dominguez signed print can be won.

    See you at the exhibition


  9. theartofpuro March 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Wonderful interview for a great illustrator

  10. angel dominguez March 31, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Dear Hilary and Mike!
    Hilary and you, both, did a gorgeous work in your-our website with the Alice´s exhibition. I like the reproductions of my originals more than in the very book! specially the Gryphon dancing… giving a glance to my own paintings in your website encourage me to do THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.
    Thanks for all dear friends, and… of course, we´ll meet there at Salisbury!

  11. angel dominguez March 31, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    …AND… of course, thanks a lot to all who kindly are writing here about my humble work.
    To all, specially to Jennifer, the creator of this gorgeous interview, my most warm thanks.

  12. Rob Keith April 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Angel, you touch my heart. Thank you for your humanity.

    Rob Keith

    • angel dominguez May 19, 2009 at 2:48 am

      Hi Rob!!
      Thank you for your words.
      I lost your email address! so, please send me the one as soon as possible, I want to talk with you.

      May be that we can meet in England at the end of this month!
      All the best to all of you, regards to Evadney and Little Rob!

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  14. Thirty Days May 4, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Hi, good post. thanks for writing. I’ll certainly be subscribing to your posts.

  15. Susie Sawyer May 15, 2009 at 2:35 am

    What an inspiring interview! I’ve known for quite some time what a gift Angel Dominguez has, and I am continually amazed by his talents. The depth and detail, and variety, of his work is stunning. Thank you for this opportunity to hear Angel speak about himself and his work. He is a treasure.

  16. Cecilia Lenhart February 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    I will grab your rss feed to stay in the loop of any updates. Wonderful work and best of luck in your life!

    • angel dominguez March 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      With delay… -remember that THE WEB… is that many ways in which we´re- but THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR WORDS.

  17. maddi March 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I´m sorry, only one thing: Mari is not a basque queen, Mari is the basque GOD. Thanks.

    • jrpoulter March 15, 2010 at 5:43 am

      Hi Maddi
      Thanks for your comment. I put down what Angel said in the interview. He called Mari ‘Queen of the Basques’, so I understood that was how he personally saw her.
      I do understand your point though and thank you for it.
      Best regards

  18. angel dominguez March 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Dear Maddy,
    You´re right, Mari, mainly is a Godess, but also named:
    -Mari, la diosa reina de la mitología vasca
    -Mari como jefe o reina de todos los númenes
    -Mari es la reina de las diosas
    -Mari, Queen of the Basque
    -Diosa Mari, reina de la mitología vasca.
    (as in Google appears).
    I will do a book on Basque Myths and as you´ll understand, the title of the Mari´s chapter surely will be:
    GODESS MARI, Queen of the Basque Myths.
    Thanks for the interest,
    Angel dominguez

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