María Jesús Contreras



María Jesús Contreras is an illustrator from Chile, currently working on projects for the New York Times, The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, Penguin Random House, NPR, The New Yorker, The Telegraph, Los Angeles Times and Berliner Zeitung, among others. She was a 2022 winner of the Young Guns Award from The One Club for Creativity.

“I have a bed for my cat to supervise the work.”

What did you get in trouble for as a kid? Anything adults told you to avoid that’s actually a big part of your life now?

As a kid I was very restless and never stopping doing things. I wouldn’t go to sleep until very late, getting paint all over the house. So mostly, I think the paint part was what got me in trouble. :)

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

I don’t know why but I had a stage where I only drew skeletons doing things, hahaha.

Did you have a magic moment when you knew you wanted art to be your life?

I'm a determined person, and I was always committed to being an artist. I was raised on a farm, so we didn’t have a lot of experience with the art world. My parents just reminded me that being an artist is very tough, and if I wanted to do art, I needed to put the artwork first in order to make it living out of it.

Where do you work? What’s your workspace like? Any objects you’ve had a long time?

I have pictures of my friends in front of me to remind me that not everything is work – and to remind me to call them often. I also have a bed for my cat to supervise the work.

How does creativity run in your family, even if it’s not design-related?

My parents create all kind of things to fix stuff at the farm. I think I was raised to fix everything in the moment with the things that I have around, and I enormously appreciate that they taught me this!