Text by Toby Skinner Illustrations/Malika Favre
They may be known for their beaches and volcanic landscapes, yet the Canary Islands have never exactly been known for cutting-edge design and creativity. But Tenerife-based Veintiochoymedio, a tourism-focused design studio, is trying to change that – and alter the outside perception of the islands.
Their most recent project, On the Draw, saw seven illustrators from across Europe invited to create a series of illustrations around all seven Canary Islands for Promotur, the islands’ tourist board. It follows another project, 7 Stories, in which they invited seven film-makers to create beautiful Vimeo portraits of each island.
“We’re trying to make the Canaries a laboratory of ideas,” says John Ar, a graphic designer at Veintiochoymedio. “A lot of the tourism here is about the sun, the beach and the resorts. We want to explore real experiences, and find a new way to talk about the Canaries.”
For On the Draw, he says, “The main thing was absolute freedom. All we said was: enjoy it, and we want the best from you. The whole project, from start to finish, only took a few months – but what they created in the end was quite magical.”
One of the seven illustrators was London-based French illustrator Malika Favre, who admits she was surprised to be called about a place she’d never been and knew little about.
“Before I went for the first time, I imagined a touristy, beachy place – but so much of it is volcanic and moonlike, with these muted tones. A lot of it is untouched, beautiful and slightly surreal – you can drive for miles and see nothing but goats and sand dunes.”
Favre spent a week on the island being shown around by local artist Cristina Hernández, who took the illustrator to her favourite spots. Favre’s usual work evokes a kind of jazz-era glamour, with bold colours, so she had to adapt to the dusty browns and salmon pinks of Fuerteventura. “I had to change my whole palette to capture the feeling of the island, but also stay true to my style.”
Favre created a series of photographic mood boards, from which she derived her final six images. One was partly inspired by the image of Hernández’s daughter carrying a surfboard on a giant sand dune, but all are are composites of images, “more evocative ideas than depictions of actual places”. All of them evoke a beauty and isolation away from any package tour type of travel.
“Staying in a hotel in Corralejo [the largest resort] at one of those ugly, blocky ’70s hotels is not my kind of holiday. But if you rent a car and get out, it’s totally different – huge landscapes, giant sand dunes, and great hiking,” says Favre. “You’ve got black beaches, and beaches so white they look like the Sahara. There are charming little fishing villages, you can get great goat’s cheese everywhere, and to top it all off the people are really nice. I loved it in a way I never expected to.”
Norwegian flies to Fuerteventura from Oslo and London. Book flights, a hotel and a rental car at norwegian.com