Parks are the lungs of the city; they let it breathe. On summer days, when the concrete and glass towers and paved streets of New York City seem to be radiating heat, Central Park provides a much-needed oasis. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the park with his partner Calvert Vaux, would have turned 200 this April. His legacy is not without complications these days, and yet the spirit of an 1866 report submitted to a parks commission by the firm of Olmsted and Vaux remains ambitious: that city parks might give residents “the sense of relief experienced by those who they enter when they escape the cramped, cramped and controlling conditions of the city streets; in other words, a sense of expanded freedom.” I spoke to artist Sergio García Sánchez, who worked on the cover with his wife, artist Lola Moral, about his inspiration for the image and the lessons he teaches to his PhD students.
What are some of your most memorable experiences in New York City?
One of my most vivid memories is of visiting Central Park and experiencing the stark contrast between the bustle of the city – the buildings, traffic and pollution – and the tranquility and nature of the park. It’s like stepping into another dimension, a world within a world.
You live just outside of Granada, Spain. What outdoor activities do you enjoy?
My family lives in a small mountain town called Cumbres Verdes in Sierra Nevada National Park. Our house is right next to the forest, which allows us to take long walks through the pine trees whenever we want.
Your wife and frequent collaborator Lola Moral colored this image. Her two children are artists. What is it like when everyone in the family is an artist?
Lola and I have done countless projects together, both for print and for exhibitions. She works as a colorist on my comics, she is also a screenwriter and an artist specializing in ceramics. Our children, Pablo and Alicia, are starting their own careers as artists and illustrators. It’s a very special form of family life: our house feels more like a giant art studio than a traditional home. But we grew into it organically, and we have shared spaces where the four of us can work in a very natural way at the same time.
You are an art teacher. In your opinion, what challenges do artists face today and in the future?
I teach courses in Comics, Illustration and Contemporary Graphic Narration at the University of Granada and courses in a Masters program in Angoulême, France. I face two challenges: I want my students to learn the crafts they need to become professionals, but I also want to inspire them to explore the possibilities of adventurous storytelling. I want them to break the pre-set codes for reading, explore alternative ways of storytelling, and develop narratives and imagery that contain multiple stories and push the boundaries of the page. Luckily, European publishers are starting to accept this kind of storytelling more and more. Hopefully the opportunities for them will only grow in the future.
Below are more covers celebrating Central Park:
Find covers, cartoons and more by Sergio García Sánchez at the Condé Nast Store.