In the world of South American comics, few names are held in higher esteem than Alberto Breccia. Born in Uruguay but based in Argentina since he was a small boy, his powerhouse career defined the illustrated artform and helped introduce the continent’s comics to the world.
And it was to Alberto’s atelier that a young Christian Montenegro went when he decided as a teenager that he wanted to learn how to draw. Christian absorbed a great deal from his mentor about idea generation and technical skills, but he remembers most the advice the older man gave him about an artist’s relationship with their work. “You cannot separate your work from who you are,” Alberto said. “You must put all of yourself on the drawing board.”
Across his impressive illustration career, Christian has stayed true to this mantra. In terms of who he is, he has assimilated lots of difference influences. Raised mainly by his Portuguese grandmother, a devout Catholic, he developed an interest in her European roots and her religious way of looking at the world. This mingled with the TV he watched – in particular Japanese anime and American cartoons. After working under Alberto, he studied graphic design at Buenos Aires University, where his dynamic, energetic style met the more rigid design structures of the new discipline.
Discussing his work in this interview with Illostribute, Christian said, “My work is the mix between an emotional (expressionist) sense of color and line, and the analytical way of constructing an image. A Frankenstein-style between the Die Brüke and Bauhaus I would say.”
This Frankenstein has certainly served him well. His editorial work in particular – for clients like Wired, The Guardian and Penguin Random House – shows off his enviable ability to take complex, abstract and sometimes pretty dull subjects and render them with vibrancy, texture and playful detail. Little wonder that like his famous teacher before him, Christian’s skills are appreciated right around the world.