Monday, December 7, 2015

Interview on a Forest :)


Hi there, it's been a while! Here's a 2015 review and 2016 plans.This interview will give you a understanding of who I am and why, what I do with my work. 2016 is coming up with lovely projects and partnerships. Staring with the invitation from Margarida Brito to start up this #project6 of her.

4. When did you find you had that “art bug”, inside you?
_ Art, art... I’m still not very sure what that is, Margarida! but the drawing bug bit me very early.
If someone gave me paper and a pencil I would “vanish” from the list of worries. I was the girl who got stuck to a table, willingly, who was not to be heard and who went nowhere for hours. For the adults this is a blessing, and thus, they must have complimented me on my drawings or behaviour and that was that, I became addicted to doing better and better than before. This happened before primary school at my “borrowed grandmother’s”, Dona Adelaide.
When I arrived in primary school I could draw better than all my classmates (and better than those from other classes too – wow!), then I got a prize in a drawing contest from the local council in second grade and that’s how an Aries girl discovered an easy way to make her parents proud – and all there was to do was more of the same and I loved it.
Soon after came the labels and the expectations: “she has a gift”, “but is she that quiet? ah! she’s an artist!”... and the consequences: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “- Artist (painting)”!
Like thousands of girls I also hesitated about my future in the famous trilogy ballerina/vet/artist... but I went by ruling out the possibilities: for ballerina I was too fat and for vet I lacked the cold blood when watching hot blood.
Artist?... Yes, please.

5. What’s this thing, illustration, for you? What was your driving force, until you got here?
_ For me illustration is... the daughter resulting from my affair with Drawing J
It’s the means of communication which allows me to reach people, old and young. Painting canvas didn’t work so I decided to paint books.
The driving force... I think the blame lies (always!) with my brother who brought home the DN Jovem issue [T.N. – a supplement, dedicated to “young people”, from one of the main Portuguese newspapers, which also held drawing contests] and asked me if I would like to send in some drawings. I was 17 years old when the editor “Manel” Dias (now retired and a friend from the heart and from running) called my parents’ home to know if it was really me doing those drawings. From then on, once in a while, I would win a book, or two, or three... and that was the validation I needed.
In painting the honourable mentions would add a line to the CV... in illustration, they gave me books, I would figure in the newspaper... and that was it, once again the parents of the Aries girl sported a proud smile. You cannot escape that.
Afterwards, once again possibilities were ruled out: in Painting I could’t get a valid professional route – one needed to have social competencies that a shy girl, like I was, just hadn’t developed by 23 years of age! Shy but stubborn – I knew that the way was through arts so I invested even more. I started a master’s degree in Drawing, for that has always been the passion at the base of it all. And I already had a foot in the door of the profession as I was illustrating school books... I could pursue an academic career... teach... Even before finishing the master’s degree I did a multimedia course, where I got my introduction to Photoshop and the ways of the digital world. From then on it was a matter of producing and bombard publishers. The shyness that didn’t allow me to have exhibitions in galleries was now the fuel to send emails and portfolios.
I was being given work and that kept on feeding this bug that keeps on biting me, increasingly harder J

6. What is your relationship with nature? What role does it play in your work and how do you carry nature into it?
__ It’s what you saw during our walk: Grounding. It’s a mother/daughter relationship. To be, in essence/To exist within it.
I want to make it proud of me. I want to be in it as a creature worthy of the energy it gives me. Could it be complicity and reverence what best describes this relationship?
Complicity because Nature is mother and religion. That poem by Fernando Pessoa about the hills, and the Sun and the moonlight [T.N. – “Há Metafísica Bastante em não Pensar em Nada”]? Nature is all of that for me. It´s everything, it’s the matter from where I have come, where I will go to, it’s part of me and I part of it.
Reverence because Nature gave me this body, a mobile temple which I take running, to commune with Nature If it gives me energy and provides trails in Monsanto [T.N. – A forested hill in the city of Lisbon] and mist by the river for me to recharge my batteries... I go! I go and I am thankful.
Its role in my work... Nature is the energy that makes me scribble on the sheet of paper and it is, literally, the paper I draw on. It’s the tree that gave me this sheet of paper! It’s the model of the things I draw, it’s the dazzling sensation, light, beauty, peace, force, magic, faith, tenderness that I try to carry onto the drawings. António Gedeão [T.N. – Portuguese poet] did this with the words. I want to reach that level with illustration.
That’s it, but now wait a second because this is all sounding too poetic... It’s just that, in reality, running hurts. It hurts for some 20 minutes before the endorphins kick in. And the drawing part?! Blah blah blah so nice? Yes, it’s true, but only after many frustrated drawings do we get something worth keeping! We have to have faith and endurance to pick from Nature and from ourselves what we want.

7. What role do you think illustration has, mainly in the children’s world?
Ui. Do we have time for a conference?
Nowadays illustration plays a very important role because we live in a world increasingly connected to visual communication. Homo sapiens sapiens semioticus J
In the children’s world, as you ask, illustration’s role is almost infinite. Ludopedagogic, mediator of affections, personal development, aesthetic education, ethics and literary... I don’t know if there is a list J I think we can say it has as many roles as the ones you can extract from the contents present in pictures or text and the haptic perceptions of the object (book or tablet).

8. If you were an animal, which animal would you be? Why?
WOLF. Because they are remarkable creatures, and because, as a matter of fact, I have worked every day to be more wolf than ape J
In order to understand this it’s necessary to grow up watching wildlife documentaries, read books such as “The Philosopher and the Wolf”, or “Mujeres que corren con los lobos” ... but ok, cutting a long story short: I would be a Wolf because both individually and as a group they are strong, loyal, indefatigable, runners, bashful, perspicacious, lethal, beautiful, scary, ghostly, ethically and aesthetically magnificent creatures.
Alright then, I could also be a shrew... just to de-dramatise.

9. Are you Earth, Air, Fire or Water? Why?
Can I be steam J?
It’s just that theoretically my element is Fire but in practice we are 70% water. So... mixing both what we have is steam! ... but I can also be electricity because at only 6 months of age I got a 220-volt shock (which left this scar on my lip) and up to today I always feel I have too many volts in my system :P

10. In your illustrations there is a strong presence of personified animals. Where does that inspiration, that reference come to you from? Have you ever thought about doing like Rita, an author’s edition?
It comes from many places. It comes from all the animals I loved when I spent my holidays in Trás-os-Montes, it comes from television... Do you remember watching Manimal?  The Littlest Hobo? Lassie? Black Beauty?... I think I am just one more person from the “National Geographic Generation”. I’ve read this somewhere – that there is a generation more worried with the planet precisely because it grew up in front of the TV watching wildlife documentaries. My friends from the 70s/80s crop will also remember the Arca de Noé shout: “Os animais são nossos amigos!” [T.N. – “Animals are our friends!” - from the early 1990s Portuguese TV program, “Noah’s Ark”] Back then, Humans had lost faith in their own species for the umpteenth time and transfered the myth of the noble savage onto the creatures of the Wildlife! I think we are reliving that today.
Ah, and because I am shy they also called me “bicho do mato” [woods creature, literally, we say that when someone is quite silent and keeps to himself] , and thus the identification grew, and grew, and grew... in my head, in times past, I was sure that I should be more (non-human) animal than Human Being. Being Aries I also had a fascination with fauns and later with centaurs, minotaurs...
The references came from all sorts of places: Egyptian Mythology, Enki Bilal’s comics and Blacksad’s books, Grandville, Charles Le Brun, “ Fábulas da Floresta Verde” cartoons, Beatrix Potter, they’re all in my Instagram in the “Zoomorphics” folder.
Author’s edition? Yes. I think about that a lot and I will do it. Part of my mission is to make enough profit to return it to the animals or give it back to Nature. As I haven’t yet found partners in the book industry who take this idea seriously (as they need the edition, storage, transport, marketing commissions)... what I have left is the author’s edition. I am working on it. 2016!

11. You’re a born sportswoman. What do you like doing the most and what moves you, in those challenges?
What if I tell you I only started running when I was 28? I was the black sheep of a super-fit family, and believe me that when you look around you and you have an elastic mother, a 1.80 m tall policeman father and a 1.82 m tall brother whose nickname is Schwarzenegger... really... a child gives up and resorts to having good grades and thinking “they got the looks I got the brains”. Emphasising our mirandese accent, I’m sill the “retchinxuda” [T.N. – Mirandese is a language spoken in northeastern Portugal. “retchinxuda” means “the chubby one”] for the closest family core. Luckily, even being chubby I enjoyed riding my bike here, by the river, and unintentionally I got the legs for what I do today aged 38... It’s been 10 years since I started running.
What do I like doing the most? To move! Feel the elements on the skin with the cold or heat that accompany them. I am happy hopping between trail, kick, bike, run, surf, paddle, kayak... each one has its charms and sensations which, in the end, lead to the same: that ritual of thanking for our body and being in communion with Nature.
The challenge is to feel good in my own skin and what moves me is curiosity: “can I do it?...”, “can I run a marathon without stopping?”, “will the river be calmer after that bend?”, “can I do this climb without dismounting from the bike?”, “will this wave allow me to catch it?”, “is it crazy to run at night in the forest?” and because the answers to these questions are so good, make me feel so alive, so happy, there’s no stopping.
Besides...I don’t really have a choice because if I stop I stagnate, I go crazy. It’s as if that steam (instead of coming out) would solidify and fall like rain inside of me and that rain is cold and acid and ruins my day. I have tested it several times and it’s not worth it. It’s better to take a few hours of the day to move than to go crazy a few more hours for the rest of the day.

Another challenge, this one conscious, is to photograph the sunrise every day and to put the photo on Facebook (or Instagram) to tell my friends “good morning”. What moves me here is the joy that comes from sharing the sceneries I catch and, of course, the likes! J

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