Illustrator and designer

Daniel Luna Sol (Madrid 1980) is one of the most special and personal graphic artists in Madrid’s vibrant underground scene. A highly skilled and meticulous illustrator and portraitist, his works depict his particular obsessions (and those of the artist), by supporting the idea of complicity with his client, formal eclecticism and a suicidal variety of techniques that today are almost no longer used.

There are two great reference names in his own personal pantheon: prematurely dead Rick Griffin, a key icon in 60’s Californian psychedelic scene, and the German Günther Kiessert. It seems like a classic that he wasn’t particularly blown away by his time at Art School. Having been involved in his area of expertise, graphite drawing, since school, he started creating band posters six years ago, at the request of music promoter Fran Lafuente. Linked to La Faena II, one of the freest and most genuine music venues in town, Daniel is a charming guy, passionate about his job, a passion which he always transmits to those who contemplate his work; which, due to the underground scene economic narrowness, is not always sufficiently recognised moneywise. A few months ago, an exhibition in Lavapiés Espacio B showed a great deal of his work with “originals”, which he is especially proud of. “It’s not quite the same thing to exhibit reproductions instead of originals”, he says with a spark in his eyes.

About his beginnings.

“I’ve always been interested in painting, illustration and comics, but I had never made posters. Apart from illustrations, a poster has a part of design and layout. It was something new for me. But I feel much better doing things for other people. Creating on demand is a bit like craftmanship and I feel much more comfortable in that area than in just sheer creation”.


“I used to have graphic influences from a wide range of artists, but since I have been making posters, I am also influenced by poster artists. My favourite is German Günther Kiessert, but I’m also into B-movie posters from the 50’s, book covers from the 70’s and 80’s and Polish poster artists. As they lived in a different political system, they used to transform Hollywood posters; their posters from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are just mind-blowing”

What’s the secret of a good poster?

“Gig posters are characterised by freedom. There are great different lengths you can go to. What I always try to do is to please the artist as well as the audience, because it is such a close knit community and I don’t have much pressure. You always have to transmit a certain type of information, but it can be in a highly covert way. The relationship with the artist can be fuzzy and for me, that type of freedom is the best thing about making gig posters. There is an essence to maintain, but many times the relationship between the poster and the artist is poetic. In my case, ninety per cent of the times I’ve had total freedom. I don’t mind being given some guidelines, but musicians usually trust what I do. I always some research on the artist: I read interviews, check out their artwork, look for information all over the media and I leave a lot of those traces in the poster”.

About Art School.

“In Art School everything revolved around that businesslike aspect of art with a big “A” and a Warhol pose. It was about making money effortlessly; which I may like (he laughs). But on the whole, I did not relate to that. You would be assigned charcoal drawings of Greek statues, which is so passé. On top of that, I hate charcoal. What I like is graphite, the pencil, a material that has carbon, like diamond; I really respect that technique; it’s what I like and have been using since school, so it was pointless to change it”.

His techniques.

“The more the better. I have been through every phase. Some artists explore their world with a sense of coherence. They have set themselves some limits and they always keep their posters within those boundaries. It is not my case. What I do is explore and do things that have not been done a lot. At first, people didn’t know all the posters were mine, I like that fuzziness. I have always tried to have fun. I’ve made collages, I’ve collaborated with my partner Blanca Estevan making embroidery designs, another job I did was about sticking tree leaves to make up the skin of a face. I have also made a poster using 100% pencil for Marisa Anderson and Tostadas. I have used acryllic, ink, comic, pen...also graphic tablet and computer. But pencil is what I am most skilled in, Marisa Anderson’s poster is one of my favourites”.

Advantages and drawbacks of the underground scene.

“What I like about being in the underground scene is that nobody asks me to use larger letters for the “headliners” or that kind of stuff. I can make the names have the same value. On the other hand, to the design freaks, sometimes the information has to appear in very small letters, because on a screen, which is where it is supposed to be seen nowadays, it is more distinguishable and it is a more neat layout. They see it as a sacrilege that I use large letters. I’m realistic, and I can accept that my design looks a little worse than theirs, but if it cannot be seen on a wall, it doesn’t serve its informative purpose. The drawbacks? Economically, bands can’t afford much”.

Is there a Madrid School of gig posters?

“No, there is no such thing. As far as I’m concerned, the ones I like come from completely different backgrounds. Nearly all of them are musicians. Apart from Rafael Jaramillo, K Y Ilustración paints on some type of old vinyls. I also like Calabaza Cósmica, who makes posters on acrylic, and Abel Cuevas: I really love what he does, he tries to do everything by hand. I have no issues with working digitally, but there are thousands of collages with old illustrations that have become fashionable in the last few years that I don’t particularly like; plus, they have been copied too much, with the same tones and colours. In 1930 Max Ernst (the surrealist French-German painter) already did something similar. They’re complex and have some credit, but they don’t transmit quite the same thing. I aim at giving each poster a unique focus, that’s why I always end up racking my brains”.

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© JC Peña • PosterCity