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Surrounded by the spirit of imagination: Interview with artist Silvia Portella

Silvia Portella is another one of our fantastic artists who has collaborated on our new line of tees. Her work is so adorable it’ll make you cry and wonder why you ever had to grow up. Her tee is called the “Great Escape” and she’ll happily tell you why.

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Hi Silvia! How are you?

Hi Poketo! I´m doing very well, thanks! And thank you too for inviting me to do this interview and for the great opportunity of working together.

What’s the first thing you did this morning?

I went straight to the kitchen and made a big pot of coffee. I really can´t start the day without it… I drank it in front of the window, looking at the city with light. Spring has finally come to Berlin after a too long winter. It´s so nice that the sun is here. Everything looks so beautiful that you get caught up by the view. Then I switched on the computer, answered some e-mails and got into this interview!

Your illustrations are insanely cute! Who or what has influenced your art in the past?

Oh! Thanks a lot for that. Obviously there is a strong kawaii japanese influence in my work that started at a very young age. When I was little, my dad used to travel to Germany for work. When coming back home to Barcelona, he always brought me some Hello Kitty stuff (back then hard to find in Spain). Of course I was thrilled with it, I think it was the simple shape of the character, with just three dots composing a face and able to give a whole expression of tenderness that fascinated me. I imagined Germany as a red and pink colored land full of kitties everywhere, where I wanted to live forever. Luckily for me I moved here already knowing the truth! ^___^ 

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Did you grow up in an artistic environment?

Also, my parents have always been people with artistic skills, my mum being a great crafter able to do everything out of anything and my dad building whole miniature cities for playing with his train collection, painting and writing. So I´ve been always surrounded by the spirit of imagination, and I think both my mum and dad have been the greatest inspiration for me. No matter good or bad times, they always found moments for doing something with their hands and included me in it. I´m very thankful for that. 

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Who are your influences today?

Nowadays, my influences are people that make art that looks quite different from what I do. It may sound strange, but I feel more inspired by it than Kawaii culture. I ended up a bit overwhelmed by far too much consuming, my fault… I deeply admire the art movement in California. It looks like great artists are popping up out of everywhere all the time. People like Jeremy Fish, Saelee Oh, or Andrew Schoultz just to name a very few. They create atmospheres and explain stories with their art that are really inspiring to me. I´m also in love with australian artists Beci Orpin, Jeremyville and Noferinsmiles. And still for the cute touch, my favourites are Friends With You, Meomi, and French Marc Boutavant.

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Is there a reason why you choose to use children and animals in your work?

Animals and children are a big part of the whole thing too. I believe it´s because of their authenticity. They´re just the way they are and that´s it. They don´t fear to express what they want or feel, whatever that is, no matter who, when or where,  They´re free and they’re the most precious thing in my opinion. Nature and music influence me a lot too. Sometimes a song comes to my head, and with it an image or idea that I want to draw. 

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Would you say that you’re as happy as the characters in your work?

Yes. I´m very thankful for everything I had in life as it lead me to the point I am right now. And it´s a pretty good one. I´m able to work in what I love the most in the world and surrounded by people I love and who love me and believe in what I do, so I just can be happy. Of course I have my days like everyone else, but luckily I tend to have a positive attitude, like my characters. I also believe that in every work there´s always and somehow the essence of its author reflected…

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Tell us a bit about the design you did for the Poketo Tee. Why is it titled, “Great Escape?”

Well, this illustration came after holidays I spent in Sweden. It was the first time in 5 years I could take a break and I really needed it. I suddenly found myself in a tiny red wooden house in the middle of a swedish forest, spending 3 weeks seeking for animals, discovering flowers, leaves and fruits I never saw before. Eating delicious food, sleeping and breathing good fresh air… It was such a contrast compared to the city life! A real escape in all the senses. And then the image of the balloon and the trip to somewhere new yet different came to my head. I found perfect to name it “The great escape” not only because that´s how I felt about Sweden, but also because it´s the title of 1995 Blur´s album I danced a lot to. And whose lyrics talk about the pressures of modern life and the need of getting rid of them. Adding the fact that the year the album was released I happened to be in Ireland, another big thing for me at that time–being a teenager travelling alone, so another great escape too. And that album was everywhere. I remember seeing the cover in huge sizes all over record stores and the songs playing all the time… 

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[taken from Silvia's website]

What does a perfect day look like for you?

There´s actually 2 perfect days for me. One would be one of those days that you sit in front of the paper or the computer and everything flows by itself, when you´re satisfied with the results of what you did. The other one would be hanging around with friends in a sunny day, having good food and good conversation, going to a nice exhibition together and maybe at night some dancing too!

Is there anything you’re artistically experimenting with at the moment?

I´m trying to make wooden toys. It´s something that always attracted me a lot and I’m finally beginning to do it. I’m still learning how to cut it, polish the wood and find the right painting and sprays for a better result. I´m having big fun turning my characters into 3D and working with my hands. Also, getting in touch with painting on ceramic for a friend´s project and preparing some screenprinted stuff.

Thanks so much for everything Silvia!

For more info or more works by Silvia, please visit hellobukubuku.wordpress.com

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