People | 20 QUESTIONS

Dabiz Molinero: 'Imagination pushes art and makes it limitless'

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Special To The Japan Times

Name: Dabiz Molinero
Age: 39
Nationality: Spanish
Occupation: Artist, children’s books author
Likes: Saturdays, fried eggs, classic guitars, squirrel brushes
Dislikes: Mondays, squid ink paella, accordions, pastel colors

1. What brought you to Japan? The power of love.

2. You’ve spent most of your life studying art. What have you learned over that time? When enough is enough and when it is too much. I can also use these lessons in my daily life.

3. You make children’s books with your wife. How does the process work? It changes according to the series. In the “Galli, Pepe and Makina” series, for example, my wife sketched the drawings and I added the colors. Creating a story is more difficult and we need to agree between ourselves because we always think that a story has two different meanings: one for kids and a hidden meaning for adult readers.

4. What were some of your favorite children’s books growing up? “Ingo and Drago,” “Pippi Longstocking” and “Momo” were my three favorites.

5. Were you interested in manga or anime growing up in Spain? Everybody in Spain likes it. We grew up with anime such as “Captain Tsubasa” and “Dragon Ball.” These days, however, I think it’s a little boring — it has turned into a copy of a copy, unlike art. It has become more like a code of lines, like writing.

6. You spent five years studying the relationship between technology and art. What did you learn? Lots of things. Technology is only code, motor and sensors. It’s imagination that pushes art and makes it limitless.

7. What’s it like making books for young readers? What are the constraints or concerns? Writing a short story is difficult because you must compress basic ideas as much as possible in order to be concise. Every part must be delivered in the same length of text and be direct. You must attract the child reader at the beginning and maintain their attention. What’s more, there’s an untold rule in the world of children’s books. Kids want to see more animals in their lives, more nature and less cars. For this reason, almost all characters in children’s books are animals. Cats are the bosses (in Japan), and cat books are always bestsellers. I really don’t know why.

8. What do you miss about Spain and the Basque country? A Spanish-style summer. I’ve never found anything better than that.

9. Are you working on a new book? Can you briefly tell us about it? Yes, two. One is the next series of “Galli, Pepe and Makina” called “Apple Garden.” The other is the story of Saint Francisco Xavier in Japan, a very famous missionary whose name kids in Japan have to memorize for a quiz. It’s a coincidence, but my father’s name is also Francisco Xavier; it’s still a common name in the Basque country.

10. What and where was the best exhibition you ever saw? I can’t recall the best because I fall in love with art very quickly. The biggest disappointment, however, was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. He is the only painter that looks better in books than in real life.

11. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? A boy in preschool said to me, “That is not chocolate.” I’ve never forgotten such insight.

12. What are your best and worst habits? My best habit is to question all information that I receive and be critical. My worst habit is not to believe the truth.

13. Describe your ideal day off. A perfect day? Drink sangria in the park and then later, when it gets dark, we go home.

14. What gets your goat? Homogeneity, repetition and anything that never changes its flavor.

15. What was your worst job? I was once a political pollster canvasing people on the street in the Basque country. Everyone was very passionate about politics and it was exhausting.

16. What’s the most unusual request you have ever received in your job? Someone once asked me: “I did this (on a computer) at home with Microsoft Paint. Can you do something similar?”

17. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? All money would have an expiration date of two weeks. It would be impossible to save anything.

18. Which character from your books are you most like and in what ways? If I name one, the others will be angry. As they live in another dimension, I’d better not make them angry.

19. What did you want to be when you grew up? Homeless. When I was kid, I thought homeless people didn’t have to go to school. At the time, I didn’t think there was anything better to do.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Being young means that you are able to change. Therefore, if you are young and only follow the dots, please go and see a doctor — the sooner, the better.

For more information on Dabiz Molinero, visit