Parks are the lungs of the city; they let her breathe. On summer days, when the concrete-and-glass towers and asphalt streets of New York City seem to breathe in the heat, Central Park provides a much-needed oasis. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the park with his partner Calvert Vaux, would have turned two hundred in April. Its legacy today is not without complications, and yet the spirit of an 1866 report submitted by the cabinet of Olmsted and Vaux to a parks commission remains ambitious: that city parks could give residents “the sense of relief experienced by those who enter, escaping from the cramped, confined and controlling circumstances of the city streets; in other words, a sense of expanded freedom.” I spoke to artist Sergio García Sánchez, who collaborated on the cover with his wife, artist Lola Moral, about his inspiration for the image and the lessons he teaches his graduate students.
What are some of your most memorable experiences in New York?
One of my most vivid memories is visiting Central Park and experiencing the stark contrast between the bustle of the city – the buildings, traffic and pollution – and the peace and nature of the park. It’s like stepping into another dimension, a world within a world.
You live just outside Granada, Spain. What outdoor activities do you enjoy?
My family lives in a small mountain village called Cumbres Verdes, located in the Sierra Nevada National Park. Our house is right next to the forest, which allows us to take long walks through the pines whenever we want.
Your wife and frequent collaborator, Lola Moral, has colored this image. Your two children are artists. What’s it like when everyone in the family is an artist?
Lola and I have done countless projects together, for print and for exhibitions. She works as a colorist on my comics, and she is also a screenwriter, and an artist specializing in ceramics. Our children, Pablo and Alicia, are launching their own careers as artists and illustrators. It’s a very special form of family life: our house looks more like a vast art studio than a traditional house. But we grew organically and we have common spaces where all four of us can work simultaneously in a very natural way.
You are an art teacher. What challenges do you think artists face today and in the future?
I teach courses in comics, illustration and contemporary graphic storytelling at the University of Granada, as well as courses in a master’s program in Angoulême, France. I face two challenges: I want my students to learn the craft they need to become professionals, but I also want to excite them about the possibilities of adventurous storytelling. I would like them to break the pre-established reading codes, explore alternative ways of telling stories, develop narratives and images that contain several stories and go beyond the limits of the page. Fortunately, European publishers are beginning to accept this kind of storytelling more. Hopefully the opportunities for them will only grow in the future.
See below for more covers celebrating Central Park:
Find covers, cartoons and more by Sergio García Sánchez at the Condé Nast store.