Alice in Lockdown is a self-directed illustration project by Marta Zubieta that explores the confusion and self-transformation journey we have gone through since the beginning of the lockdown in the UK.
Bringing vibrant color to quite bleak subjects, Zubieta explores the millennial culture and its issues through pink-tinted glasses, neon colors, and dreamy characters. Zubieta found in Alice the perfect metaphor to explore the reality she was living in during the outburst of Covid-19.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland represents the child’s struggle to survive in the confusing world of adults. To understand our adult world, Alice has to overcome the open-mindedness that is characteristic of children. Apparently, adults need rules to live by. Going down the rabbit hole: in the book is a representation of going into the unconscious, connected with lockdown, Covid-19 seems to be the hole that has trapped us all at home, forcing us to deal with our inner monsters but also with the voice we listen to the most; the mass media.
Interview with Pop-Surrealist Marta Zubieta
Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A. I wanted to be a veterinarian until the age of 10, then I brought my cat to be castrated and everything changed.
Q. What’s your background?
A. I studied fine arts in Sevilla, Spain, but I didn’t make the most of it or I didn’t know how I could ever get “real work” out of it so I started studying graphic design alongside.
Before I moved to Bristol I was a poor long-time intern graphic designer during the day and session singer at night. Once in Bristol, with my “Spanglish” it was hard (impossible) to find a job in the design industry. I worked in hospitality for a long period while playing music and just trying to do illustration for fun, I even stopped painting for a while. But I think all that working at night, the music, the street art, and the collaborative spirit of the city gave me the push I needed to connect my passions into my paintings and illustrations which have now become my main work and which I am very grateful for now.
Q. What piece are you most proud of?
A. I particularly like my “Alice in Wonderland” series because I feel with it I really grasped the power that pop culture has for communicating controversial ideas.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
A. You can do everything you want, but just don’t get caught. (Not sure it is the best, but it makes me laugh.)
Q. What is one thing they tried to teach you in school that you knew immediately was wrong?
A. The hierarchy of power, The catholic religion, and Iceberg lettuce.
Q. Where is your favorite place?
A. Close to the water, the sea, or a river, when I am in a landscape that reminds me that we are one, then my problems and the noise in my head become smaller.
Q. Who are your biggest influences?
A. I find my roots in pop culture. Old cartoons and movies appear in my work without me even realizing it. The other day I found myself rewatching the movie “Yellow Submarine” (one of my father’s favorite movies) and noticing how many connections of myself I could find in the imaginary world the movie had created.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. Love what you do.
Q. Which current art world trends are you following?
A. I really enjoy current artists’ aesthetics like James Jean and concepts of art activists like JR, I am interested in how they analyze nowadays issues through their own eyes and how their work impacts others. I also love to have a look at other artists like me on Instagram and how they develop their own storytelling.
Q. What can’t you live without?
A. Love & Music
Q. What is your dream project?
A. To collaborate with animators in a surreal music video for an artist I admire.
Q. What’s your favorite artwork of the collection?
A. I personally like La Petite Mort because it became the visual representation of a personal moment of change. When I started it I was in the middle of a big emotional hole and I stayed for a while in a loop just painting over and over the pink lines.
As I started growing out of my personal situation I could also see the evolution of the painting, the changes in the face, and the flowers growing.
Q. What is currently on your playlist?
A. I love listening to Latin American music, especially Brazilian bossa, samba, and Peruvian cumbias. They really transport you into another world. I started my illustration career making posters in Bristol for the world music collective Worm Disco Club and making the merchandise for my own cumbia band Camo Clave, in both psychedelia and nature were very connected, so a big part of the inspiration for my colors and aesthetic comes from listening to these rhythms.
Q. What is your favorite piece of art?
A. This sounds like a cliche but I will always think of Hyeronimous Bosh and his “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. I got in my hands one of his gallery books when I was very little and since then I was fascinated with the number of detailed characters that inhabit his pictures, I think of them as the TV of our era (now the internet), I imagine the rich families getting him to paint the most beautiful, twisted and fantastic stories of their times to entertain their days.
Q. What gives you life?
A. An amazing gig, playing music myself, running away from the city into new places, getting lost, and connecting with people.
Q. What is your superpower?
A. Being stubborn is my superpower and my kryptonite.
Q. What is your favorite thing in the world, and why?
A. Finding inspiration, getting in the flow with things, and forgetting of the world around
Q. What ideas are you currently questioning?
A. How can the human race be so beautiful and twisted at the same time
Q. Who is the one person, dead or alive, that you would like to have dinner with and why?
A. I would like to sit with my parents before they had me and ask them some questions about life.
Q. What’s next for you?