Today at Ohio University, the School of Visual Communication welcomed world - renowned artist Fernando Baptista to speak about his current and past projects with National Geographic.
Before moving to the United States, Baptista grew up loving art. He created his first comic book at the age of 12 and had completed several comic books by 18. He went to school to study Fine Arts and spent a year focusing strictly on painting. After this, he began three more years of intense drawings, paintings and sculptures to prepare him for his future. Upon graduation, Baptista found work in a few jobs working on sporadic projects. He spent 14 years working for a newspaper company and doing some freelance work before he received a phone call that would change his life forever. National Geographic rang and asked him to send over a portfolio of his work. They told him he stood out because everything he made was manual, meaning sketched, created and brought to life by hand.
Baptista moved from Spain to Washington D.C. in 2007 to start his career with National Geographic. He still, ten years later, speaks with a very thick Spanish accent and often mixes his bilingual vocabularies.
Baptista's favorite type of art to create is sculptures. He feels like they are a more natural way of bringing things to life and are easier to create than drawings. They allow him to see the different textures and lighting and to get the right point of view. Most of his projects only take him about five to seven weeks to complete. This process includes the following steps:
A blank sheet of paper, a pencil and an idea.
1) It all begins with a concept. This is usually something National Geographic will tell him that they are expecting. Baptista looks at this like a question - "What can I tell people from my work?"
2) The selection of information process is the most tedious. He works side by side with researchers and experts, sometimes even traveling to places, to get the more accurate and precise information.
3) Next comes the sketches. On some projects, Baptista takes two or three sketches to perfect his work, but on more complicated projects, it can be upwards of fifteen.
4) The design becomes an important element, especially for digital media. Storyboards and sculptures bring these drawings to life.
5) Baptista focuses in on the style of what he's trying to convey. These tend to change based on the different platforms (print or digital).
6) Lastly, he needs to check and double check that all his information is completely and 100% accurate.
Baptista's most recent work was the Viking cover of the March 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine. For this, he traveled to Norway to take a ride on a replica Viking ship and saw another in Chicago. He transformed this visions to a sculpture, a mini-documentary made only out of paper and then into a cover page that folds out into three-page spread.
More information about Fernando Baptista and his projects can be found following this link.