Generating Emotions through Art and Retail | Raul del Sol

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MiND had the pleasure to talk to Raul Gutierrez del Sol -illustrator and window dresser for Stradivarius– about his background and career in Barcelona. Raul can move from entomological illustrations on different materials to choosing the best outfit for every Stradivarius window in the world.

Raul Gutierrez del Sol at the Cotton House Hotel. Photo by SOFIA FERNANDEZ STENSTRÖM

Raul started studying fine arts during his bachelor’s degree but decided he wanted to focus a little more on a profession in the retail field. When he was young, there weren’t all the opportunities that students have now, so he was lucky to find a course in interior design, window dressing and ephemeral structures at the Superior School of Design in Madrid. “This course was very interesting because I got to study subjects that were creative, innovative. I learned to transmit emotions, events and structures in an ephemeral way”, affirms Raul.

He has always been drawing, creating, studying and making posters, training in different techniques, painting different subjects. Entomology has fascinated him since his childhood, because of the hidden and unknown mechanisms of the insects’ world to the eyes of a child. For this reason, he was always touching, analyzing, looking at them. The illustrator started drawing insects from a dragonfly wing as he loves that part and how it ties to the wood board with its knots and lines.

“Wood and black ink are perfect to communicate nature.”

From this first wing, he started to investigate more and deepen his knowledge of entomology, focusing not only on butterflies but on different types of insects.

Raul Gutierrez del Sol’s series Céfalon.

All his pieces are unique, being made on request and personalized based on the clients’ desires, tastes, favorite insect and favorite collection. “If the client is a lively person, I draw a flying insect; if he is a reserved person, I usually draw a closed butterfly”, he explains. In the end, Raul appreciates following the client’s personality as it helps to create unique, customized pieces. Each collection has its own meaning: the matryoshkas from the “Metamorphosis” series are a symbol of change, of growth, evolution; then, there are the heads from the “Céfalon” series; the wooden plates for the “Insecta” series; the hands for the “In Touch” series.

All of them have a strong visual impact, especially the matryoshkas. “They symbolizes growth, development, motherhood. They are connected to the dragonfly that goes through a cocoon and leaves the chrysalis”, explains Raul.

His pieces are characterized by natural finishes, black ink and a fine line, which is difficult to pursue on materials like wood. For this reason, the first thing he does is sand the piece of wood to open the pores of the piece so when it comes to painting, it absorbs the color throughout. Then he starts tracing the first lines of the illustration with a pencil and then colors with India ink.

“To draw my pieces, I need a very firm hand and to get close to the piece, as it is more difficult than drawing on paper”

At the moment, he is trying new materials. He never leaves wood behind, but he would also like to widen his range of pieces that are both sustainable, natural and different.

Raul Gutierrez del Sol at the Cotton House Hotel. Photo by SOFIA FERNANDEZ STENSTRÖM

The hardest part in his work and life is to try to find the time to capture everything in his head and, at the same time, reconcile his work as an illustrator with that of a window dresser and with fatherhood. However, for Raul the most important thing is efficiency and anticipating situations in order to better face them.

His profession as visual merchandiser started as soon as he got into retail. He started with ephemeral structures and window dressing -a more environmental and physical approach to retail-, but while going through other jobs, he ended up in merchandising.

“Visual Merchandising is a form of communication, a way to talk to the customer. In the end, it’s the way you express yourself that helps you arrive to your goal.”

Raul is responsible for the creative part of Stradivarius’ window dressing department. His goal is to convey emotions and be able to have an impact on the client through the window of the shop. It’s a challenge to be able to make a person stop in front of a store window in a world that moves quickly and in the world of fashion where trends change every month in a frantic rhythm. This rhythm doesn’t help to live in the moment, because while living in the winter, he is already working on the summer collection, and vice versa. There is a lot of anticipating. The same happens in the window dressing department. You have to support the clothes as they are the protagonist and create a uniform, harmonious environment that communicates the brand’s message.

Raul Gutierrez del Sol at the Cotton House Hotel with a piece of his Céfalon series. Photo by SOFIA FERNANDEZ STENSTRÖM

Remembering that “self-knowledge, knowing your qualities and opportunities” is the most important thing that Raul has learned during his career, MiND would like to thank him for sharing his passion for illustration and visual merchandising and wish him good luck for his future projects. Don’t forget to follow him on Instagram at @rauldelsol.

Interview by Lisa Zanon & Carmen McIntosh