New creative duo Cabeza Patata create stylised illustrations of unconventional women

Motion designer Abel Reverter and illustrator Katie Menzies explain how their unintentional collaboration started, and why female empowerment takes a central role to their 2D and 3D work.

Spanish motion designer Abel Reverter and British illustrator Katie Menzies teamed up at the end of 2017, joining their 2D and 3D illustration styles to create stylised compositions of unlikely female characters embellished with a bright colour palette.

Katie and Abel formed an unintentional collaboration which grew naturally to become Cabeza Patata. Currently working from a studio by the beach in Barcelona, the duo plan to return to London soon.

What’s unique about this pair is the fusion of Katie’s 2D bold line work with Abel’s detailed 3D illustrations. Both styles placed side-by-side makes for a dynamic composition, as seen in their recent personal series Everyday Women, which we showcase here. The series focuses on female empowerment – Katie and Abel illustrate women in everyday activities "without imposing a ‘male gaze'".

“Our women can be comfortably reading a book or putting on their bra without having to pose. Since then we've been creating new illustrations building on this idea of Everyday Women. For example, a woman shaving her legs adds a comical element that people relate to,” says Abel.

Katie and Abel often choose to illustrate female, ethnically diverse characters midway through an action. You can see this in their previous illustration series, Blood, Sweat and Tears and 100 years of women’s suffrage.

“When we started Cabeza Patata, some people noted that we didn't illustrate many men; the very fact that they noticed this is exactly why we're focusing on women and diversity,” says Katie.

“The way we represent this is also important – the characters' big legs and bodies up to their small heads gives the audience the perspective that they are looking up at strong, powerful women.”

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Everyday Women is the duo’s first collaborative project which formed the basis of how Cabeza Patata work.

Katie and Abel always start by designing in 2D. It allows for a more graphical look and stylised composition, without having to be constrained to the reality of 3D modelling.

“We like to put the styles side by side, such as the Everyday Women project, because it's fun to see how different features exist and how they are translated between mediums,” says Abel.

“For example, 3D allows us to make realistic materials such as water and glass, mixed with more cartoonish elements like our plants and the characters themselves. Also, things that appear as lines in 2D get volume in 3D and become geometric shapes.”

Alongside personal projects, the duo are working to build a client base. Currently in talks with agencies in Paris and London, Cabeza Patata also joined the Puck Collective of illustrators.

Both Katie and Abel still freelance individually, releasing pressure on creating an income solely from Cabeza Patata.

“Because of Cabeza Patata's style, we find public campaigns are great,” says Abel.

“Our characters aim to represent everyone in a positive way and in their own Cabeza Patata world. We also want to go beyond the screen and put our characters on packaging (we would love to see them on a craft beer can), clothing and almost anywhere else.”

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The pair are currently experimenting with more elaborate clothing for their characters, such as puffa jackets. And because of the fresh nature of this collaboration, Katie and Abel are still exploring how elements such as animals and different environments will look and feel in the Cabeza Patata “universe”.

“Animation is also a big focus for the future. We want to keep the handmade feel of the characters when we start animating them so we’re looking at using frame-by-frame animation in 3D, and working on perfectly rigging our characters,” says Abel.

For now, Katie and Abel are exploring different mediums – including street art (there are lots of free walls to paint legally in Barcelona) – and seeing where the collaboration takes them.

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