Interview with Juanito Kalvellido

“Laugh is a freedom”

Juan Kalvellido is a cartoonist born from the working class that has never stopped believing in revolution. This Andalusian was born in Cadiz, Spain in 1968 during the student revolts. He lives in Malaga, where he earns his bread and butter working in the hotel and catering business, a euphemism to say that during eight hours (or even more!) of every day, of every month, of every year… he serves giant hamburgers (whoppers, but over there they call them gupers) while imagining thousands of drawings, and then later… when he goes home, dedicates the rest of the day to making us and his family happy.
Read more about Kalvellido :

(The interview below was realized a few weeks ago. Since then Juan has unfortunately lost his job at Burger King, but courageously tries to sue them, because they gave him nothing in return…)

– How did you come to draw professionally?

I am not a professional draftsman. I work in the restaurant B. KING and catering business (hotel management). Drawing is only a hobby that gives me gratification and serves me to relax. I WORK TO SURVIVE AND DRAW TO LIVE!

– Which papers, magazines and Internet sites do you work for?

I collaborate with different press associations that need my work. But especially for where I illustrate the front page every day and for and that sometimes publish me. My works also appear in magazines and papers The Old Mole, The Karma and Diagonal… I also illustrated several books of poetry and short stories.

– What is it in the political language that inspires you the most?

I’m inspired by everything, from a conversation in the street to serious political analysis in the newspapers. My inspiration comes also from a phrase in a book, an anecdote in a movie, television newscasts… EVERYTHING!

– Should there be any limitation to freedom of speech whatsoever?

According to me, there must be no limit in the freedom of expression. For me, there is no specific red line to be imposed and everyone must choose his way. Every responsible person must know their own limit. I, for example, would never draw anything racist or offensive to women …

– Is there, according to you, one single form of freedom of speech or are there several?

Here total freedom of expression exists while you do not say what they do not want!
To knowing, there can touch neither the basic props of the society NOR KING, NOR MOTHER LAND NOR GOD!

– What do you think of the Holocaust cartoon contest arranged by the Iranian daily Hamshari in response to the caricatures of Mohammed published in various European dailies?

I can emit a good or bad, fair or unfair opinion…But certainly acceptable in the context of freedom of expression.
Sincerely, I do not believe that those Jews who died in the Holocaust have much in common with today’s Jews. The thing that remains the same is this so called Jesus who accepted poverty, humility and love as law with those who nowadays defend his religion.
– Have any of your drawings been censored? If yes, then why and under what circumstances?

Well, not really. There are always anecdotes where people say this or that to you and these commentaries can cause auto censorship afterwards. I do not like empty discussions.

– Are you practicing self-censorship? Which are the most difficult topics to depict?

I have my red lines. I never draw anything that could offend someone directly. People can feel offended with my work, but my intention is to make laugh first and think later. The humorist always cause tears in people’s eyes but also a smile on their lips.

– Do you think the drawing is a political power able to change people’s behaviour?

I think the political texts people read in the news can influence them. Why cartoons couldn’t do the same?

– Do you think that the satirical drawer is an artist or rather a journalist, or even both?

He is a pessimist well informed in art. A troubadour and sometimes a buffoon. 

– According to you, is the role of the drawer to make people laugh or to think?

 My style is to make laugh and then reflect. The laugh is the best assault. Laugh is a freedom.

– Which situation or person do you think is hardest to draw?

For me the most difficult thing to do is to be humorous while dealing with serious facts and situations and it’s even more complicated to remain impartial.


Visit Kalvellido’s website :
See Kalvellido’s Flickr page :
Interview and portrait : Benjamin Heine