{the interview series} Oupas! Design

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Oupas! Design não é um estúdio convencional. Estas três jovens contam com a companhia do gato Tobias e o poder do cartão para conquistar o mundo. Têm energia, sentido de humor, dinamismo, um grande sentido ecológico e muita criatividade... Deixem-se contagiar!

[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.]

Oupas! Design is not a conventional studio. These three young girls trust in the company of cat Tobias and in the power of cardboard to conquer the world. They have energy, sense of humor, dynamism, a great ecological sense and lots of creativity... Let yourself be captivated!

[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!]

Cidália, Joana, Sofia e Tobias | Oupas! Design
Porto, Portugal
site | blog | procatinator

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Oupas! Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Hello! We’re the Oupas, a group of three young girls who have a gorgeous cat and love what we do!
The Oupas! studio began with the desire of making graphic design and illustration in an ecological responsible way, with the least waste possible. We assumed ourselves as a sustainable studio, and therefore our work is often recognizable by the materials we use, specially the cardboard which as been our material of choice. With very little, we can do so much! Above all we want to be happy and make everyone as happy as we can thru our work!

2. Oupas! is a multi-disciplinary design studio created by three inspiring and ambitious girls: Cidália, Joana and Sofia. When and how was this studio born? Why does it have this funny and curious name?
We met at college, in 2006 while studying graphic design at ESEIG, Vila do Conde. We became good friends, and we had a lot common interests, such as illustration, handcraft, or the ecological way of thinking graphic design. Although we had things in common, we had also different skills and ways of thinking that could be interesting in the projectual process.
After graduating and acknowledging the reality of the work market, currently flooded and where opportunities take long to arrive, we decided to start our own thing, which was a dream during our academic years. Now we realize how lucky we were for not having a job immediately, otherwise we’d miss all these amazing experiences.

As we had no money at all, our professors gave us the opportunity to start an incubation year at ESEIG, with no expenses, just to work for the college when needed. That was the perfect environment to test the viability of our studio, and see if we could do it or not. So in February of 2010, the Oupas! studio was founded. Fortunately, we had a very good start, and we have now our own studio at Porto, and a cat, Tobias. Oupas! Is a traditional word in Porto that means something like “let’s go; let’s do it!”, that was our feeling at the time we were beginning this journey and did not know what was going to be. As a gag when we’re working we like to shout “Oupas!” at each other as our motto, to keep us going!
So, this is our little story.

3. You develop mainly design related works, but the team also expands to other creative areas, such as illustration and crafts. What’s the main type of commissioned work you perform? What gives you more pleasure to create?
Beyond the “typical” graphic design work, the more ordered projects are the cardboard ones. In the beginning of the studio, we made our manifesto in cardboard, just for fun, and this became our business card to big projects such as the TEDxyouth@Porto stage, the Cardboard Ivity City, and more recently the Sandbox Global Summit installation.
It is a different way of communicating, with such a cheap material that we usually disregard on our daily life, we build our handcrafted worlds. Nowadays cardboard is as important to us as gold!! That surprises people, and so they get interested and come to us.
Of course doing cardboard things gives us a lot of pleasure, especially when people interact with our work and challenge us to do different things, but we also take pleasure of all the other type of projects we’re in. We can only keep going as long as we love what we’re doing, if not something will be missed in the final piece!

4. I must say that your healthy sense of humor is absolutely contagious - I love your site and style! I appreciate your sense of ecology and the way you seem to find art in everything that surrounds you – share with us the concepts behind your work.
Most of the times it’s the material that inspire us. We always try to give things a second life, and turn them into Oupas! pieces. Even in the bidimensional projects, like websites or logos, we like to do it with our hands first, and then take it to the computer. The best example is, of course, what we do with cardboard. We also get inspiration from our own city, our own country. We love Porto, we love mustaches, sardines, Bordalo Pinheiro’s swallows, the tiles on the typical Portuguese houses, our awesome bacalhau. That always tints our work, especially on illustration.

5. Let’s now talk about the crafts you create – they range from notebooks and postcards to brooches, bags and t-shirts. What inspires you to create them? Where can we find them for sale?
As we said in the last question, our beautiful Portugal is what inspires us the most. There are always beautiful and funny things to create or illustrate. We are usually at Mercado Porto Belo, at Porto, every Saturdays (if it’s not raining) selling our craft things. We also accept orders through our e-mail and website.

6. Your studio has a recognizable style and is growing more and more - even though you’re young you clearly seem to know what you want! What means do you use to promote your work?
Obviously the power of Facebook is great to promote our work and get people to know us better. We like to share little things with our followers, such as Tobias funny photos or things we’re doing at the studio, so it’s always good to set a relation with the people who like our work. The little market, Mercado Porto Belo, is also great. People actually talk to us, and try to discover more about our projects. We get some clients and friends from there too. However, we think the most important mean to promote our work is our work itself. All the people we get to know in our projects became a part of our “contacts network”, that is, fortunately, becoming bigger and diversified with people of many different areas and more recently, different countries. Those are the people who introduce us to other clients, showing our work and their experience by working with us. That’s the real spread of our work. We learned that it’s so much pleasant when we work with someone that has the same wills and disposal to do things, in a dreaming way. We’re lucky to find people that, contrary of the country scenario, are happy and ready to change the way of things, and who knows, maybe the world!

7. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
First of all, we love our workspace! That’s so important to us, because we feel so good in our studio, so that is a good start to have ideas and inspiration. Our studio is quiet, well lit, and has a great balcony to the back of our street. Is full of cardboard things, and we even have cardboard tiles in a wall. Friends and family gave us most of the furniture we have, and the rest of it was bought in second hand, on a charity store across the street. We have an old fridge (not working!) full of pencils, paints, fabric, rulers, tapes and glues. We have a record playing and a beautiful sewing machine with almost 50 years. Everything we bring to the studio as a special meaning. We have some plants and we also have our friend’s art! Since we have the studio that we started knowing some lovely and talented artists that gave us some artwork that we exhibit proudly above our fireplace. We are also collecting them to fill one of our “inspiration walls”. It feels like home, so we even wear our cute “zlippers” from Zezzling. And for last, but not the least: our beautiful cat, Tobias! We’re crazy cat people, and there’s nothing better than arriving at the studio and having a “Meow!” to start the day (and sometimes a big mess!)

8. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
Cidália is the first to arrive, around 9h30, and Tobias is still sleeping. Thereupon is Sofia. Joana is always the last one! Tobias receives a lot of kisses in the morning and plenty more in the afternoon. At 12h30 is time for lunch, usually each of us brings theirs from home. We regularly have a skype lunch with one of our best friends Verónica, a talented industrial designer. She lunches alone in her office, so we like to make her some company. During the day we work in the current projects, and when we have some free time we make our craft things to sell at Mercado Porto Belo. Sometimes we make funny videos to our friend’s birthdays. During the day we may have to go shopping some materials, print some works or pick up all the boxes we find at the stores door. It’s good to make a refreshing pause. Casually we have visits from our friends, and it’s always a good excuse to go to the awesome pastry we have underneath the studio.

9. I can’t resist asking about the other member of your creative tem: Tobias! I’m also a cat lover… and I bet he helps you a lot, right?
Tobias is the best. He was once a homeless cat, and we think is now grateful of his new home. He has a cardboard house and WC. We think we gave him so much love and shook him so much, that he eventually gave up being a normal cat or running away, he just mindlessly agrees with what we want to do with him. He sleeps, eats, and then sleeps again. When he’s not sleeping, he loves to be in the balcony, chatting whit his friends on the roofs. He’s great cause he forces us to do exercise when he runs away from the studio. Once he ran to the roofs, making us yelling loudly in the balcony. He loves cardboard, just like us, and sometimes he does his art with it…

10. Besides creating, what else are you passionate about doing?
That’s a good question to speak individually, so:

Sofia: I love this girls and working at Oupas! studio has been a dream. Of course I love Tobias too. So, as it is such an important thing to us, we’ve been working a lot to make it come true, so it takes a lot of our time!
However when we have free time, I love to do normal things such as: kiss a lot my boyfriend Lucas; spend time with the family; go out with friends, take a walk in Jardins do Palácio, or have a great breakfast with Lucas. When my pocket allows, I love to travel, even if it’s not to far. I love my DIANA F+ lomo camera, and it always saves good moments. I love tangerines and bananas. My family is the most important thing in my life. I’m such a happy girl, surrounded of happy people, and I’m proud of things I’ve been achieving so far.

Joana: I love cooking, making new experiments and old ones too... but that is creating too, so, besides creating what I love most is being with my girlfriend, my mom, my friends, my dogs and Tobias. I love gaming, reading and to eat a good breakfast (it’s rare, but ok).

Cidália: I love to run to the beach or mountain, knit, cook, play with my nephew and my animals, walk hand in hand with my boyfriend… I give much importance to my family and my village and I really enjoy that.

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?
We think there are many problems when working in any place of the world. But in our country, we have noticed, that people always put it worst, and that has been a difficult issue to fight. In an atmosphere of austerity and crises, the young people, at least, could be more positive and try to make things come true. It’s great that people fight for their rights and contest injustices, but they are forgetting that they have the power, the tools, and a beautiful country to make real things come true, and that could probably help us be a better Portugal. But we still have faith in the Portuguese people, we’ve been meeting awesome young and entrepreneur guys, that just keep us inspired and with strength to go forward.

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 our city! We love to go outside and discover new cities and places, but in the end of the day the feeling is to come home, to our beautiful Porto. We love our people, our houses, our little streets, the Douro river… but mostly the people from here. Porto is a city in development, and we sure want to be a part of that, contributing in our own way.

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
Uau, that’s difficult. We would like to live with the dinosaurs. That, or meet Jesus.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also want to make a living as a designer/illustrator/crafter?
We’re just arriving from the Sandbox Global Summit at Lisbon, where we made a cardboard project, and had the opportunity to meet so many incredible young people with awesome ideas and dreams that actually put them to work. Experiences like that motivates us and above all are extremely inspiring. Thru our own experience and contact with those people, we can only say: Think big, take risks, and no matter what DO WHAT YOU LOVE!

15.What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
We think we’re at a stage where we can take more risks. We’d really love to start doing projects outside, and start an international path. It’s a little scary, but so exciting. That would definitely be the next step, if opportunities come.
Talking about unrealistic dreams… ok, here it is:
Doing a cardboard stage to a Lady Gaga performance (including cardboard clothes). Awesome!
If not, we would like Tobias to be immortal.

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

book: I should probably say a big book, like a novel or a drama, but I’m passionate with children’s book, and have just bought one of my favorite’s one, not only by the story, but also by the beautiful illustrations. It’s called “Para onde vamos quando desaparecemos?” (Where are we going when we disappear?) from the Portuguese author Isabel Minhós Martins and the awesome illustrator Madalena Matoso. Go check it!
music: Cat Power, Kings of Convenience, Grizzly Bear, Feist, The Whitest boy Alive, Arcade Fire, Chet Baker, Cibelle, Bon Iver and so on…
movie: Toy Story 1,2 and 3, Juno, Where the wild things are, Le Fabuleus Destin d’Amélie Poulain, Blue Valentine, Illusionist, The Triplets of Belleville
personality/artist: Chet Baker
color: Red, Yellow
object: Diana F+ lomo camera
animal: Cats, Dogs and elephants
drink: orange juice
food: pasta
season of the year: spring
travel destination: NY…? Japan…?
piece of clothing: dress
secret: ...

book: 20.000 leagues under the sea
music: Beatles
movie: O Labirinto do Fauno, Ponyo à Beira Mar
personality/artist: Lady Gaga
color: Purple
object: Mac
animal: Cats Dogs and Turtles
drink: Tea
food: Sushi
season of the year: Spring
travel destination: Japan, Croatia
piece of clothing: Jacket
secret: Gay

book: “An English Family” (Júlio Dinis)
music: Beach House
movie: Edward Scissorhands
personality/artist: Vasco da Gama
color: Brown
object: Stone
animal: Donkey and Tobias
drink: Red Fruits Tea and Coffee
food: Sushi
season of the year: Fall
travel destination: Japan and Iceland
piece of clothing: Scarf
secret: I cannot be upset with anyone

Thank you for sharing all your optimism and willpower with us Oupas!


  1. OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH Amo a Oupas!!!!!!!!!!!!
    you girls are soooooooo cool... I want to live with Tobias in his cardboard house and be your friend!!!!!! can I????? oh oh oh such nice interview Ana!!!!! thanks for doing it! I have liked Oupas for some time now and to know more about them is awesome!!!! I didn`t know you were 3 girls... (girls power yeah!) I thought they were more people... I have lot`s of respect for your determination, imagination and work!!!!! applauses..... and jumps... (my 4 cats are in love with tobias btw) :D besos to the 4 of you! (the oupas and Ana!) :D :D :D


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