Salvador Bru: Illustrator in profile [HalfBleed magazine]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
HalfBleed: The Newsletter for Members of the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington
As a child, Salvador Bru loved watching his father, a painter, turn a palette of beautiful oils into a landscape. And young Bru wanted to paint, too. When he was 9, however, his father died and his mother wanted her son to choose a stable career—become an accountant, perhaps.
Of course, Bru has no interest in numbers, yet he wanted to make his mother proud. So he buckled down, studied the educational curriculum years ahead of his grade level, and at age 14 completed his high school equivalent exams. With a diploma to fall back on, Bru convinced his mother to send him to the San Carlos Fine Arts in his hometown of Valencia, Spain.
The Spaniard has been painting ever since.
“I think some people are born with a compulsion for the visual,” says Bru. “Art school provided me with the education that I craved.”
He excelled at San Carlos, and after graduation went to work for the advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Spain. He later became art director for the Spanish fashion magazine, “Punto Moda.”
But Bru wanted more independence. So, in 1978 he set up his own illustration and design studio in Barcelona and began to freelance. By 1980, he realized there was still much more for him to learn, and he moved to New York City to take a job in the art department of NBC-TV. He stayed for a year, then went on to work at two Manhattan advertising agencies.
“At these jobs, I learned what life was like from the perspectives of the art director and the client,” he says. “I realized then that understanding the world of art from both these view points would be critical to succeeding as a freelancer.”
And succeed Bru has. From his studio in Chevy Chase, MD he regularly is commissioned to create illustrations for Washingtonian magazine, dozens of trade associations, corporations such as Mobil, the federal government, and newspapers such as The Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe and the New York Times.
Married with one son, Alexander, 24, the illustrator also has a studio in Barcelona, and regularly flies to Spain to work with European clients. There, he also teaches art classes at the University of Barcelona.
“Traveling frequently to Spain provides me with a window seat to view the rapidly developing European Common Market,” he explains. “Being transcontinental also enables me to pick up some international clients. Plus, I very much enjoy the challenge of working with art students because it allows me to help others along their career path. It is very inspiring.”
What inspires Bru to come up with the interesting ideas for his illustrations? Some good mood music, of course. Beethoven perhaps, or maybe Enric Granados or Manuel de Falla.
He says the rhythms help him meditate on an idea, the meditation turns to mulling, which eventually becomes more conscious. Sketches and more sketches follow, and eventually Bru has a concept.
Of course, computers and the Internet also lend a hand.
“Thanks to my computer, fax machine, and the Internet I am able to continue to do work for clients here in the U.S. while I’m in Barcelona, and work for my European clients while in Maryland,” he says. “Being technologically savvy is critical to staying on top of my game. I love this job. I am having a wonderful time.”