Not much is known about Maria Medem’s life, but the Spanish illustrator has been making waves on social media for her simple but charming illustrations. Medem’s atmospheric compositions boast textured gradients, thin lines, and humorous characters engaging in ordinary acts. Kiblind Store describes her art style as “opening worlds… creative space-time: alternate realities where the procrastination of the soul becomes landscapes.” With minimal shadows and colors, the artist effectively transforms the image into a peaceful universe that recalls Japanese woodblock prints. Medem has stated that some of her inspirations are Moebius, Hokusai, Utamaro, Ikko Tanaka, and Cody Cobb among many others.
Medem’s book, Echoes, published in 2019, features beautiful prints that connect intriguing stories and realities. The main character is water itself, as the consistent theme that permeates the book’s pages, meant to be read as both single-page comics and an interconnected work of art. Some other recent publications include Cenit and Satori among a number of zines. But the Seville-based illustrator may be most known for her editorial illustrations, particularly those commissioned for The New York Times and AIGA. Although the subject matter of the illustrations may be sometimes strange or dark, Medem carries the ability to make any scene alluring and calm with the simple tools of ink and Photoshop.
Overall, Maria Medem’s contemplative illustrations call attention to the mundane and finding beauty everywhere. With a simple but bright color palette, Medem’s art boasts the power to capture the viewer’s full attention and forget about the external world. Perhaps that is the best way to view such illustrations, to allow oneself to be in the present moment.