Man who planted trees
Let me introduce you to this image through a fragment of the text The Man who planted trees (also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier):
“[…] I saw Elzéard Bouffier for the last time in June of 1945. He was then eighty-seven years old. I had once more set off along my trail through the wilderness, only to find that now, in spite of the shambles in which the war had left the whole country, there was a motor coach running between the valley of the Durance and the mountain. I set down to this relatively rapid means of transportation the fact that I no longer recognized the landmarks I knew from my earlier visits. It also seemed that the route was taking me through entirely new places. I had to ask the name of a village to be sure that I was indeed passing through that same region, once so ruined and desolate. The coach set me down at Vergons. In 1913, this hamlet of ten or twelve houses had had three inhabitants. They were savages, hating each other, and earning their living by trapping : Physically and morally, they resembled prehistoric men . The nettles devoured the abandoned houses that surrounded them. Their lives were without hope, it was only a matter of waiting for death to come : a situation that hardly predisposes one to virtue.
All that had changed, even to the air itself. In place of the dry, brutal gusts that had greeted me long ago, a gentle breeze whispered to me, bearing sweet odors. A sound like that of running water came from the heights above : It was the sound of the wind in the trees. And most astonishing of all, I heard the sound of real water running into a pool. I saw that they had built a fountain, that it was full of water, and what touched me most, that next to it they had planted a lime-tree that must be at least four years old, already grown thick, an incontestable symbol of resurrection.”
In 2007 I received the commitment of the editorial design and illustration for a new edition of this book, by the Gijón City Council, published in spanish and asturian languages, for the first time, and aimed to conmemorate the World Environment Day. I inmediately understood the universal scope and fell in love with the text of Jean Giono, who donated his copyright for a free and universal reproduction and dissemination of this literary work.
This illustration is the synthesis of The man who planted trees: the consecration of a lifetime aimed at creating life through the trees, its transforming and transcendent capacity beyond the boundaries of life itself, for a common good and universal respect. The closeness, almost unbreakable, between our life and natural life. And ultimately, the true love of nature and life without distinction and its capacity to transform our reality and our life.
Born in Gijón, a coast city in the north of Spain, in the early summer of the year of 1975, a round figure that marked the beginning of what promised to be a new future for a new Spain.
From an early age, before start talking, he began to play with two of his future passions: drawing and animals. Since he was two or three years old, Juan loved artistic expression, filling dozens and dozens of notebooks with the way he saw everyday reality as well as the imagined reality, much more interesting and free.
He has enjoyed the pleasure of being understood by their parents, who were able to see soon his skills; they helped him to potentiate and develope his capacities, guiding his learning and experimentation in classes of drawing and painting when he was a child and covering the costs of the university degree in Fine Arts in Salamanca, one of the oldest universities in Europe, where he graduated with honors in 1998.
Since then his creative world has evolved to graphic design and illustration applied to advertising campaigns, brochures, posters, graphic identity, scenographic and creation of characters with various Spanish theater companies (that have reported him several awards for his work in the field of illustration applied in interaction with actors) and, specially, children’s picture books, a work that he deeply enjoys because of their capacity to create and recreate new and different worlds.
He collaborates regularly with local and national clients in Spain, as well as agencies, graphic design studios and clients from around the world.
Juan loves the illustration and its capacity to build new atmospheres and, finally, new ideas. He loves the power of communication of a single image and thinks that the style must be fluid, strong and always at the service of the main purpose of the work.
Today, Juan Hernaz lives in the countryside, in a beautiful area of fields and nearby forests, on the outskirts of the city of his birth, along with his wife, his son and his two gorgeous golden retriever.