Featured Creative

Rita Laranja

April 2019

Freelance Illustrator Rita Laranja talks us through her process of finding her style while juggling part-time illustration and editorial design for a Portuguese architecture publisher. Plus she gives us some valuable advice on how illustrating for your true self can result in the emergence of your style.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I do etching illustrations influenced by the Japanese pop culture mixed with my own culture. Even thought I’m a freelance illustrator this is only my “part-time” job as I combine it with my full time job working on editorial design for a Portuguese architecture publisher.

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

I’m gonna write a mix of design and illustrators!

1. Roman Klonek

2. Yutaka Satoh

3. Lalasaidko

4. Kazuaki horitomo

5. Benji Nate

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

I feel like today “studios” expect so much of us. They want us to be good at everything, web design, editorial design, illustration… I really don’t think it’s possible to be that good at all these things. Of course there are exceptions and it’s always nice to know a little bit of everything but to be really good at something you need hours of practice and effort. I would like to see a graduate skilled in a very specific thing. Choose what you want to do, practice and develop it. You don’t need to do everything yourself, you can make part of a team that has different individuals specialized in different things.

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Firstly draw what you really care and are passionate about and not only what you think people will buy/like, the quality of your work will emerge from that.

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Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Yes! I work in a shared studio, alongside a loose collective of visual artists and musicians, creating things under the name of Favela Discos. We join ranks to produce music and promote events around the city of Porto. I mostly do graphic work (design and illustration). The best part is that we make everything ourselves, from the technical work of a record label to the artwork itself. If an artist wants to release a record, someone will do the cover or the press release; or if there is a concert someone else will do the poster.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

Although I started etching and linocut in my second year of university (this was when I realized this technique was something I would like to explore, mostly because of Hokusai’s woodcuts) I only started developing what I can call “my style” one year ago. I’ve been obsessed by the Japanese culture since I was a child, so why did I only start to transfer those influences to my work in 2018? I guess I stopped caring about what other people would think of my illustrations and also stopped drawing what I thought they would like. I read/watch a lot of manga/anime every day, and when I began to transpose that to my drawings I started to become increasingly more passionate about them and so more dedicated, the rest happened gradually. So one big cheesy advice is: firstly draw what you really care and are passionate about and not only what you think people will buy/like, the quality of your work will emerge from that.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

When I started working I was always a bit embarrassed to show my process and even my final work to people. But eventually I had to show it, since I’m working in a very cramped shared studio, it was inevitable that someone would see and comment my work. To my surprise the comments were very positive, and I got a lot of constructive criticism. Working around other artists with different perspectives helped me evolve and create something that I would never have thought of on my own. So don’t be afraid of showing vulnerability and insecurity about your work to other fellow artists. Surround yourself with a good group, even from different branches, they will surely help you improve and you can help them improve too.

Website: aritalaranja.tumblr.com

Instagram: @aritalaranja

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