September 30, 2018

Welcome to our new feature the Bird On A Wire Spotlight!
In this series, we will introduce you to artists and creatives we champion, celebrate and collaborate with. If we love them, sure you will love them too!
Today, meet the painter and illustrator Mariana Simão. Mariana lives and works in Lisbon. We met her in June during her first exhibition: A Flor da Pele. We directly felt connected to her art and knew she would be part of the team in some way soon.
 Tell us a bit about your work/work day routine.
My ideal start of the day would be waking up, having a good breakfast, watering the plants, turn the music on and just start to paint. Unfortunately, I do not get to do that most of my days since I have to read emails, send proposals and budgets, schedule meetings or taking care of orders. However, I can paint whenever I want to, be it morning, afternoon or night!
How would you describe your art in 3 adjectives?
Feminine, gentle, sensitive.
Where did your love for your art come from?
My love for art came at a very early stage of my life when I saw my father and mother painting. They’re not artists but they are artistic. My father was a military sailor and always did paintings with a strong connection to the sea. He also used to paint old bottles with little ships inside. My mother used to paint ceramics with a lot of colours and details. Instinctively, as a kid, I asked them to teach me how to draw and paint. Once you start using this type of expression you start paying attention to little details in your daily life. Everything is transposed in colours and shapes that you later set on paper. Your discoveries are visually more and more appealing. I’m now starting to feel like I won’t have enough time to see everything I want to see.
Where is your atelier and what to you love/dislike about it?
My atelier is in the neighbourhood of Príncipe Real in the heart of Lisbon. I find this part of the city very inspiring, especially near São Bento. I like that my atelier is also my apartment because it’s a peaceful and comfortable in-between. I know everything I need is only a hand away.
I love to have a natural light at my desk. I love that the building right in front of mine is decorated with blue and white tiles I tend to be obsessed with.
My old computer really drives me crazy. I always try to minimize the amount of work on the computer. I also have strong speakers my brother gave me, I usually love listening to music loud and sing along (really enthusiastically). I have a new scanner I absolutely love (the previous was like ten years old or so).
I generally love my studio but would like to go bigger studio one day.
Why did you start and continue to create?
I think it has to do with the love for visuals I mentioned earlier. I love images and I like to create images. I am not sure why. I think when you are an artist or a creative you just have this will to make things happen, this drive to materialize ideas and concepts you came up with. My process is very intuitive because I just love to find things that I find aesthetically pleasing and to continue creating.
What are you currently working on?
I am now working on my next exhibition. It will be in a library (an invitation that immediately caught my attention). This exhibition will be more experimental and will have some humour involved. Sometimes I like to do fun artworks, like risograph, which is playful to do because you have to plan the image in layers of black and white.
I have various projects with friends such as collective poetry and drawing. My friends are a really important part of my life. We are active dreamers, when we reunite we get all excited and things tend to be a bit crazy. I like to plan projects and work with them. Magic happens when people meet.  
Besides that and more importantly, I am organising all my artwork and working on a new website and online shop.
What three works of art do you consider masterpieces?
I remember being fascinated by the Starry Night from Van Gogh as a kid, I even dreamt about it a couple of times! I love The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli since the first time I saw it during my art history classes few years ago. Also, I think I’ve always admired and felt really inspired by Frida Kahlo portraits. That being said, the list of inspiring artworks is endless...
Who is your favourite artist?
I really can’t say I have one, I really love the work of Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Henri Rousseau, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe...
Where do you look for inspiration if suffering from artist block?
Inspiration is a thing that comes very naturally for me in Lisbon. Many of my work inspirations come from my contact with the surrounding world as I truly love this city. Every time I go for a walk, I’m inspired by something new. I am always taking little notes, doing sketches and taking pictures of everything to use in my artwork. Since my work has a lot to do with nature, I search for inspiration in some of the gardens in my neighbourhood. I also have this love for everything from the past so I like to go to fairs, vintage shops or record stores.
Besides that, I am always surrounded of the things that I love, such as books, some of my main references and music that I like.
Doing collages is also a thing that I look to do to fight artist block, I found them very playful and they help me making new compositions and having ideas to create images in my head.
Ultimately, I think artist block most of the times is just fear. In that sense, it is very important to take time for myself. Slow down and never lose the joy and fun of the process.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? 
I love the creative freedom that this job gave me. It actually does not feel like a job. I like that it is exciting, personal and intimate. It is a way to express myself. It is great when people that you do not know reach out to you and you can see they really like your style and trust your work. It is challenging and being an artist can put you in a vulnerable place. I have many doubts and I question myself a lot so the best part for me is when I see that people really trust and believe in my aesthetic. I feel a lot of love and I think that is priceless. People feel close to you in a way through your art.

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