{the interview series} Two Dot Two

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hoje trago-vos um casal muito criativo! Ela: designer gráfica e ilustradora. Ele: designer, fotógrafo e ilustrador. Ambos do Porto e detentores de um estilo muito pessoal... esta mistura surpreendente de talento deu origem ao estúdio Two Dot Two.
Convido-vos a conhecer melhor a Maria Helena e o João Bento Soares. Deliciem-se com as suas palavras e o seu trabalho!

[Este post pertence à rubrica semanal {the interview series}, onde publico uma nova entrevista todas as quartas-feiras, com artistas e bloggers inspiradores que admiro, de acordo com o espírito handmade e um estilo de vida criativo. Tornem-se fãs no facebook e não percam nada!
Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.]

Today I bring you a very creative couple! She: graphic designer and illustrator. He: designer, photographer and illustrator. Both from the beautiful city of Porto and holders of a very personal style... this surprising mix of talent led to the studio Two Dot Two.
I invite you to learn more about Maria Helena and João Bento Soares. Have fun reading their words and admiring their work!

[This post belongs to the weekly feature {the interview series} where I publish a new interview every wednesday with inspiring artists and bloggers I admire, according to the spirit of handmade and a creative lifestyle. Become a facebook fan and don't miss a bit!]

Maria Helena e João Bento Soares | Two Dot Two
Porto, Portugal
site | blog | shop

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Maria Helena Silva and João Bento Soares. Tell us a bit about yourselves.
MH > I’m an Illustrator and Graphic Designer. I was born in the 80’s, I grew up dancing to Madonna, being scared by Twin Peaks, watching Portuguese tv series like Duarte e Companhia, cartoons like Tom Sawyer, Anne of Green Gables and thousand of movies. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer, but then I discovered Graphic Design and it was love at first sight. After a while I noticed the importance of drawing in my work as one of my favorite ways of expression and so I became more and more interested in Illustration.

JBS > I have a Communication and Art Degree and I’m from the beautiful city of Porto. I’m a Photographer/Illustrator artist that works as a designer. I love to take portraits, I’m fascinated by the human form and all its conditions.
You can find me in my studio creating (painting, taking pictures) or even downtown with friends.

2. You are the co-founders of the multi-disciplinary communication studio Two Dot Two. When and how was this studio born? Why is it called like that?
It was born in 2007, when we realized we were already collaborating in several projects/ exhibitions and it made sense to create our own creative studio. It’s Two Dot Two, because it refers to the collaboration between two people, 2 brains and 2 hands working together.

3. Two Dot Two develops mainly design related works, but it also expands to other creative areas, such as photography and illustration. What’s the main type of commissioned work you perform? What gives you more pleasure to create?
Mainly Illustration and Photography. We love to make murals!

4. So, your business story is also a love story… does this work more as a challenge or as a support? Who does what?
Yes, it is a love story; we met, fell in love and since we had the same objectives, it was very natural to turn them into reality, so we created 2.2. We support each other, combine our knowledge and exchange ideas. Sometimes it’ also a challenge because parts of our own work are so different and we have to make it work in the end.

5. I must say that I absolutely love your illustration work! You both have a distinct recognizable style that on the other hand seems to complement each other. Do you use to work together or you take separate ways?
We work on Illustration together when we feel it makes sense, for example when we make murals – we like to combine both styles. At the same time each one of us develops individual work.

6. Maria Helena, in your illustration work you create surreal characters that mix human and natural elements - they sometimes even carry a message, like in The Heartbreakers series (one of my favorites!). And you, João, manage to conciliate illustration and photography in your creative search. Would you both share your creative process with us? The mediums you use, things that inspire you, artists that influence you…
MH > The idea for a personal project starts to develop slowly, usually is something that intrigues me or that I feel I want to investigate and ‘talk’ about, or it can be a sentence in a book, or a line in a movie, or a theme I simply like. I carry a sketchbook with me so I can write or draw every time an idea occurs. Then I select what makes sense for the project and just start developing everything. I usually start to draw with graphite pencils and Indian black ink, if I want to apply color I use acrylic paints or use the computer to do that as well. It’s that simple. Oh, there’s so many great artists that have influence me, like Toulouse Lautrec, Maira Kalman, Sonia Delaunay, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, Keri Smith…etc.

JBS > Well it is kinda crazy, sometimes I think my brain is going to explode but to be accurate I have to divide my creative thrill because I find them both to be very different in context and in style. I realize that some ideas are better in photography rather than in illustration and vice versa.
I normally begin with a pencil and a blank paper to do some sketches. Then I choose if I’ll be painting on canvas or paper, with color pens, graphite, brushes or paint.
For my gallery photography work I’m in the studio thinking the best way to approach the concept, which views, light, color, accessories, model, etc. (I write everything down). After this, comes the best part - shooting.
I’m inspired by the things/people I see on the street, on the subway (I’m always drawing on the subway; I have to be very quick because my stop only takes 15 minutes so I make like 2 to 4 drawing/ideas a day). I’m also inspired by my thoughts, when I look at the blank paper there is always something to put there, even if it is to write an idea for a photography series.

7. You have a recognizable style, you’ve participated in exhibitions and even painted murals in some public spaces. What means do you use to promote your work?
We participate in contests, design fairs, collective exhibitions, we use our blog to promote everything we do, we collaborate and get published in books and magazines…

8. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
The walls are filled with our artworks, it has a big window - there´s always a lot of light. There’s a working table for both of us, another small table, lots of boxes, a sideboard and our bicycles. It’s a place that puts us in the mood for creating, with all the art supplies everywhere, different kinds of paper and canvases, books, magazines, cameras and lenses, the latest acquiring - the vintage Telefunken radio… always music in the air, lots of it!

9. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
A 2.2 regular day at work involves brainstorming, making budgets, updating the blog, answering e-mails, working on current projects. There’s also muffins, pancakes, hot chocolate or mojitos involved somewhere in there.

10. Besides creating, what else are you passionate about doing?
We love to do absolutely nothing because normally we are always working, but we love a good film, taking walks around the city, being with friends, cooking (we are making our own recipe book for future generations), and travelling.

11. You’re Portuguese just like me, so I don’t resist asking: what are the main problems you face being an artist in our country, Portugal?
Well, the list is long…! I hate complaining but to be honest it’s not very easy. It all starts with the assumption that clients have about the creative fields. Most people don’t see artists and even designers as experts – like they see a lawyer or a doctor. Even if one has a degree and a good portfolio, clients have a hard time trusting artists or designers. There’s a tendency to believe that what artists to is easy, and anyone can do it (the nephew with Photoshop can do it, so why pay a professional?). And of course it’s hard to make a living as an artist, so most people have more than one job, or have to work long hours.

12. You live in beautiful Porto. Tell us a bit about this city and what you love most about it. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
We love the coffee shops, antique stores, the gardens and the nostalgic feel of Porto. We love the people and the restaurants. We love having the river and the sea nearby. We love Porto’s pastel colors and the wine. Well, we really love almost everything about this city. It would be fun to live somewhere else for a while, like in Berlin, Stockholm, or N.Y., but not for too long, as we would miss this place so much!

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
MH > Well, like in the last Woody Allen movie it seems we are never happy with the era we were born in, everybody has that feeling once in a while. I have a little crush on the Surrealist and Dadaist art movements, so Paris in the early 1920’s would be perfect.

JBS > The future.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also want to make a living as a designer/illustrator?
Work hard, show your work to everyone, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, learn as much as you can from every opportunity, be passionate about the process, it’s the fun part! Use sunscreen!

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
We are planning an exhibition, and also developing new 2.2 products.
Not working, witch means only doing what we love everyday (without the boring parts of the job).

Now a quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: How Proust can change your Life by Alain de Botton
music: radiohead
movie: Annie Hall by Woody Allen
personality/artist: Hemingway
color: fluo pink
object: pen
animal: swallow
drink: Mojito
food: banana pancakes
season of the year: Spring
travel destination: Berlin
piece of clothing: dress
secret: all mine!

book: Coloring books
music: Chromeo, The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, Gonzales, Kings of Convenience, José Gonzales
movie: Back to the future, StarWars, Goonies, Amélie, any David Lynch movie, Man with the movie camera
personality/artist: Leonardo da Vinci
color: Turquoise
object: Photo camera
animal: Octopus
drink: Mojito
food: Curry
Season of the year: Summer
travel destination: Italy or India
piece of clothing: Shoes
secret: Pandora’s box

Thank you for sharing your happy thoughts with us, it was a pleasure having you both here!


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