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An interview with Mariana a Miserável

We have interviewed one of the most talented portuguese illustrators and she as also created the newest sardine’s illustration

Hi Mariana. First off, we would like to thank you for working with us. For those (very few) who don’t know who Mariana a Miserável (lit. “Mariana the Miserable”) is, can you please tell us a little about your path as an artist and your work?

Hello! Well, I’ve been a full-time illustrator since 2010, having worked on a myriad of projects in this field: books, limited-run publications, posters, notebooks, murals, magazines and exhibitions.

You truly come across as a person that, when life gives her lemons, she’ll squeeze every last drop of them and make art. Do you think your experience as freelance artist had any influence on your art? Or was it the other way around?

My experience as an independent worker is what allows me to pay bills by doing what I love but, and although I’ve used it as inspiration of a (tragicomical) book, I try to not let it influence my artistic expression, as I find it incompatible with inspiration.

Can you please walk us through your creative process? Do you fish around for inspiration in works / artists you admire, or do you prefer to paddle against the current, so to speak?

I believe that we are the sum of all the things we take into ourselves during our life, so the more we surround ourselves with what makes an impression upon us (and not merely art-related things), the more beautiful we end up becoming. My creative approach changes from project to project, as I work on very diverse things (different materials, different themes, different media), but they all have their start on the pages of a sketchbook, in the form of words and quick pencil doodles.


Reeling the conversation back to our Sardine, can you please talk about your approach and inspirations for this project? Having a sardine-shaped soap as a starting point is a tad unusual, after all… Did you feel like a fish out of water while working on this?

It was easy, because I found the product to be brilliant, and to this day the soap is still hanging in my kitchen, near the sink. As to the packaging, I tried to draw everything but the sardine, since it is already present and accounted for in the soap’s own shape.


Would you say that the original Sardine packaging influenced your work?


The original design had a key role in the creation of my illustration, because it compelled me to draw the sea, the environment that comes to mind when you think of sardines. Then I added some people and a little humour.

And its Sea Salts & Lemon scent? Would you say that there is a whiff of it in your design?

I tried to get it across, yeah!


Now back to you… What do you think gives your life flavour?


The excitement of creating new things and those moments when I find myself laughing at what I draw as I work.

What is there left for you to do? What do you think the future holds for Mariana a Miserável?

What’s left for me to do? Everything. After a year marred by restrictions, I try not to have a lot of expectations for 2021. I decided I’d take it one step at a time and aim for calmer waters first.


One last question: what food you can’t eat without salt? And what do you think that tastes better with lemon?


Have you ever had bread without salt? It’s so sad. With lemon, well, a nice grilled fish and lemon juice is a match made in heaven.


Thank you very much, Mariana!

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