Illustrator Mercedes Lagunas


This portrait of Muammar Gaddafi by the Spanish Illustrator Mercedes Lagunas was obviously created during the Libyan uprising and before Gaddafi’s death last week. Like all of Mercedes’ work it is also quite obviously a bold and distinctive portrait of history.

Mercedes Lagunas Portfolio >>

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Categories: Editorial, Illustrators

Author:Mark Kaufman

Mark Kaufman is a partner at Vivitiv, an issue oriented design firm providing creative services for organizations involved in housing, technology issues, education, the environment, and the arts. His illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Progressive, National Lampoon, The Stranger, and The Oxford American. Mr. Kaufman writes and draws the comic strips American Affairs Desk and I Drew This Thing. Mark is Vice President Communications, ICON9 The Illustration Conference and is an editor at Illustration Age. Mark Kaufman's Illustration Site ///// Vivitiv Issue Oriented Design

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3 Comments on “Illustrator Mercedes Lagunas”

  1. October 27, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Nice strong style but difficult to read what this is about…It looks as if it could be pro Gadaffi…as if he is leading the fighters , sort of a Che of today…I would be interested to know what this was done for. I am not saying anything about which side I come down on, just saying the illustration seems like that, to me.

  2. October 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm #


    Your point is well taken, while I am a strong proponent of substance over style, I admit I didn’t see the piece that way. As we all do I brought my own interpretation to the illustration based on my knowledge of the events of the day, my feelings on the uprising of the Libyan people and my position on whether Gaddafi was a despicable tyrant. He was.

    Historically speaking while there are plenty of fine examples of portraits of public figures that show them in a black or white manner, the recent Newsweek portrait of Gadaffi by Edel Rodriguez for instance, there are many portraits that I admire that come in shades of grey. The work of Boris Artzybasheff for Time comes to mind. While he may have crossed out Hitler, he also did some fine renderings of other not so nice world leaders that didn’t seem to take sides. A couple of examples of Leonid Brezhnev and Ho Chi Minh: +

    Here is an example of a Newsweek cover of Gadaffi from 1981 that even though it poses the question “The Most Dangerous Man in the World?’, it is similar to Mercedes’ piece. Taken out of context and without knowledge of who the fighters in the foreground are I would agree that it may not be clear to the viewer what side the artist is on.

    I am not sure what this portrait was commissioned for, but the fact that is spurred a very interesting comment from you proves that a picture is worth a thousand questions.


  3. October 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Great art inspires great conversation, as you wisely pointed out, Mark. And thanks for your comment, Matthew. I think it’s safe to say that whatever side you’re on, and whatever side the artist might have intended, I think the piece does a great job of illustrating the tension and volatility surrounding Gaddafi.


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