Creating content for a children’s TV media company comes with its own set of opportunities and challenges. For Borja Guillot, an art director for a kids’ programming company in Dublin, escape from the daily stream of bright colours, fluffy animals and smiley faces is a necessity. He does this by creating artworks of a more macabre nature.
We spoke to Guillot about the start of this art project, the combination of watercolour and his fascination with deep sea marine life.
“I was doing an exhibition of watercolour portraits and I wanted to include some fantastical portraits as well. I was watching a BBC documentary on deep sea creatures at the time and I was mesmerised by it. Then I decided to paint some hybrid creatures featuring some of those animals with human bodies. I started using daguerreotypes [an old-fashioned type of photograph] and altering them in Photoshop as a quick way to get sketches and inspiration. I enjoyed that part of the process so much that I kept doing them after the exhibition,” he said.
These monsters are Guillot’s creative countermeasures to the pressures of children’s animations and graphic design. It is a personal art project (part of Guillot’s larger ‘Lovecraft’s secret archive’ collection) that helps him maintain mental balance as an adult working in the energetic and whimsical world of children’s entertainment.
“There's a lot of restrictions when you are working for the children’s entertainment industry - especially for preschool audiences. Sometimes the rules can be incredibly frustrating.
We were told once by the BBC that they wouldn't accept more than two farts before 6 p.m. (when the children programming ends) and they gave us clear instructions on what the length and the sound of those farts should be.”
Guillot went on to express the emotional release that occurs when creating hideous creatures as an escape after a long day at work.
“As any parent who has young kids can tell you, exposure to long periods of preschool TV can produce short-term damage to the adult mind that can only be cured by a glass of wine and some quiet time. I spend 8 hours a day under a psychedelic bombardment of round shapes, bright colours, smiley faces and catchy, infantile songs.
Even though I like what I do at work most of the time, there's a limit. All personal projects I do on my free time are mostly devoid of colour and very dark in theme. Going to the darkest part of the mind and bringing monsters to life is a natural balm to my rainbow-burnt mind,” he said.
Looking to the future, Guillot aims to expand the life of his daguerreotype monsters by creating a novel catalogue.
“I started writing short stories of each of the creatures, all linked by the work of a fictitious 19th-century naturist, who travels around the world looking for the so-called monsters. He interviews them and takes their portraits. I'd love to one day compile them all in a book.”