I am Sara, a portuguese freelance illustrator living in London since November 2013. Drawing was always my favourite activity since I was little and the academic discipline that I dedicated most time to throughout my school years. During my studies in architecture I found illustration to be a true interest and passion. After attending some courses, it was time to go back to University, where I did a Master Degree in Image Design and studied animation, illustration and storytelling, and I explored image narratives, digital culture and digital publishing.
My days start early and I like to keep a routine. I wake up around 7am, sometimes earlier, as mornings are usually the most productive time of the day. I work from home and I am lucky to have a big window across the wall that brings a beautiful morning light into the space. Right now I am dedicating most of my working hours to illustrating two children’s books, for which I am experimenting with different techniques. The beginning of a project always starts with a lot of experimentation and research until I find the right expression for it. I then start studying and developing a coherent group of images.
I have the necessity to work with different mediums, such as drawing, stencil, silhouette papercuts and photography, sewing or digital illustration. Despite this diversity of techniques, my work always starts manually with pencil drawings and sketches that strongly lean towards geometry and clean, simple shapes and forms, with a sharp use of bright colours.
I choose the technique depending on the identity of each project. For example, I illustrated a book of poems for children with references to night time and dreams. My approach to this subject was to convey the mood of the poems in a series of patchwork inspired illustrations that are a reference to the cozy and sweetness of family quilts and patchwork blankets, that stay with us from our child memories. It didn’t felt right to “fake” the patchwork with any other technique, so I did real patchwork illustrations, using a sewing machine to sew all the pieces together. I embroidered by hand the character’s expressions and photographed the final pieces. It was very laborious but worth it in the end.
A different example are the illustrations I did for a book called “The Farmer and the Wolf”, based on a popular portuguese tale. It is sort of a hide and seek game, where both the farmer and the wolf are constantly hiding from each other. So I did very sharp digital illustrations to reflect the suspense and story rhythm with a graphic camouflage effect in autumn colours.
It is also very important to leave some of my day time to research and reading, and also to revisit or rediscover artists, illustrators and animators from the past. My architecture education at University of Porto has certainly influenced this, given the school’s unique aesthetics of process, form and scale, strongly influenced by modernism. I recently found a catalogue of Soviet Lithuanian Children’s Book Illustration filled with amazing works from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s decades.
Lastly, I am finally dedicating time to my personal projects. I have different projects I am developing that have been on the waiting list for too long! For the end, I would like to leave you with a short non-narrative animation I did almost three years ago that reflects my main interests in my personal projects: explore the physical boundaries and narrative structures of books and images.
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