Gabriel Mello Franco

Our list of talented friends seems endless! Gabriel Mello Franco is an artist from Rio de Janeiro whose work is presented in a very peculiar style: versatile, critical and humorous. Aesthetically, it is impossible not to notice his talent for tracing and crafting visual pieces. Amidst the release of a group exhibition in Galeria Graphos, we had a casual conversation with him.

Q: How did you discover your artistic side and in which moment did you decide to follow this path?
A: I don’t exactly recall in which moment it began. However, when I was a kid, my mother was an artist and my house had paint everywhere. I really liked to go with her to the atelier. A classic story that she usually tells is that she used to call home, asking whether me or my brother needed anything, and I always answered the same thing: Chamequinho (a Brazilian brand of white sheet packages). 
Q: Collage, illustration, painting, street art. You are very versatile. How do you, even using different techniques and aesthetics, manage to give your work such a peculiar identity?
A: I believe the main objective of my art is the message, which can be conveyed in many ways. The relationship between both is a natural thing. I don’t worry about that during the process, but something that identifies me somehow ends up arising naturally.
Q: A keen sense of humor is pretty evident in your work, and a lot of times it’s politically incorrect. Could you speak more about this characteristic of yours and the type of message you try transmitting with it?
A: Humor is indeed a characteristic of mine. I like to fool around with friends, make people laugh and laugh along with them. I try to see things by the positive side and joke over the bad side. Because if it’s already bad, it’s better to laugh, isn’t it? Crying makes it worse. This shows up in my work.

Q: The passion for your soccer team, Botafogo, is something that couldn’t be left unmentioned. In which way do you integrate this feeling to your work?
A: I am a very typical Botafogo fan.  I talk a lot about the past, I suffer for weeks with the defeats and I have all possible superstitions. But it only influences my work in the process. Regardless of the schedule, time or importance, the process is stopped in the middle of the afternoon on game days. Then I can even compensate time by working at dawn, but on game days I need this concentration time before and during the match.
Q: Tell us something unusual about you. It can be a superstition, habit or any strange thing you may want to share.
A: I tend to carry a sketchbook and a “life-guarding” case with drawing materials, even though I might not use them. If I stay too long without having anything that can be used to draw nearby, I feel a little weird. This can be disrupting when I’m on the street and when I’m sleeping in my girlfriend’s house. I need to go home and pick up these things, only to sleep near them.
Q: How do you see the art scene in Rio de Janeiro and how do you belong to it?
A: I think the art in Rio is good, very diverse. I see myself in a good path, still at the beginning and still needing to grow, but I’ve been dedicating myself to that. I’m near a bunch of good people and walking together is always better, we push each other forward.
Q: Could you leave a visual record, be it a drawing, photo or collage, of your particular universe of passions and inspirations?


 Valeu, Foguin! :)

Interview with Vicky Zamora

Life is getting way too boring? No need to worry. If it depends on our friend Vicky Zamora, everything will be ok! Vicky is a talented artist from Chile with a style all of her own: vibrant and joyful. With a personality that totally matches her style, Vicky has won many contests and lately has been working a lot on international collaborations. We had a blast talking to her and are pleased to have her work showcased here.

Q: What was your professional aspiration as a child and how do you think this is related to your current career as an illustrator?
A: As a kid, I dreamed about being a detective. I was very curious and had a great imagination. I’d go through the neighborhood with my bike looking for mysteries. I remember an abandoned mansion, next to the house where I grew up, which was said to be haunted. I’d pass by it with my sisters and look through the windows, to see what was inside. Also, in my school, which was a very old building, there were many hidden doors and stairs. One time, we got to an inner yard through an underground passage. Then we realized it was the private place where the nuns who ran the school lived. In general, I believe I owe much to my parents, who encouraged us to play non-electronic games (I had my first Nintendo at 25) and to play in nature.


Q: Where do you get inspiration when you’re away from the office?
A: I think there are many things in life that inspire me everyday ranging from a conversation on the subway to the contagious laughter of a lady sitting at the next table, but I think I’m more receptive to creativity when I do things that make me happy and surround myself with people that make me happy.

Q: In order to create a piece, do you make sketches by hand or do you draw directly on the computer? Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
A: When starting an art piece, I first visualize and imagine how I would like it to be. Then I draw directly on the computer. When I have many ideas encompassing the same concept, I sketch them all on paper, for comparison. But that’s if I think there are many things to be defined along the way, while I’m doing it. There are many wonderful things that happen when you make a mistake, tremble or accidentally stain something… I love the surprise factor!


Q: There are different opinions about having a style. Some believe it is a natural way, others believe it’s a trick. What is your opinion about this topic?
A: This is a question I asked myself for many years. I worked a long time for a retail company where we were doing household products illustrations. The work was very entertaining, we had to do many things by following trends and styles were varied. I think after 3 years working there I felt the need to find my own style, my own voice. I could draw everything but nothing had my personality or character. So I decided to study in Barcelona. The road was not easy as it takes time to get out of the styles of others and find something that is truly unique and yours. I think in my case it helped me to spend some time with myself and get to know me better. I grew up and so grew my drawings!


Q: Tell us two people who inspire you, one inside the illustration field and other from another area, be it creative or not.
A: In Illustration, I have many references but I drag most inspiration from vintage illustration from the 50s and the 60s. I try to go to many markets and look for magazines, books and stamps for inspiration. I love the work of Jim Flora, Miroslav Sasek and old cartoons like Mister Magoo. Currently, I really like the work of Nobrow Press, especially from the very talented BlexBolex. Personally, I always find inspiration in the people I love. My family and mostly my parents are people with the most beautiful and generous heart I have ever known and they have always supported me throughout my career. Also, my friends are so varied and from so many different places and cultures that all of them end up delivering much material for me to imagine and to dream over. I think having lived outside my country for so long made my imagination limitless.


Q: Please name us an artwork that you would like to hang on your wall.
A: I’d be happy with a Magritte in my home and I really admire his work, mainly for sticking stubbornly with an idea and working it until his last days. The conceptual game that he makes between reality and fantasy, between what you see and what you read is brutal. Seeing The Key to the Fields live twisted my brain…

Q: What do you imagine yourself doing in the next 10 years?
A: I see myself happily working on my illustration and design studio.

Q: Do you own any unusual collection or object? Could you describe it with a drawing and a short description?
A: My stamp collection! They are from different parts of the world, some found in markets and others given away. I love the Olympics theme, especially when the designer’s style is in evidence, such as Otl Aicher for Moscow 72′ and Lance Wyman for Mexico 68′. I also like stamps related to children’s stories of the 50s and 60s, especially the ones from Netherlands and Germany. They are all very colorful and perfectly simple. I have always been intrigued by the challenge of being able to communicate effectively in such a small piece of paper that will travel to the farthest corners of the world! 18bis_vickyzamora_05

Una conversa inspiradora! Gracias guapa! :)

To get more from Vicky:
Vicky Zamora’s Behance
Vicky Zamora’s Facebook
Vicky Zamora’s Blog

Interview with Pau Gasol Valls


We’re starting a new section of the blog, long-time planned, with a series of interviews. To put our best foot forward, the first featured artist is one of our favorite illustrators, Pau Gasol Valls. Pau has a very interesting visual style and shared with us a little bit about his work, influences and creative process.

Q: Which painting artists do you admire the most?
A: I admire all painting, from the beginning, with its saints, virgins, madonnas, dull landscapes and hunting scenes to whites over whites. I’ll have to elect some names, won’t I? I especially like the portraits from Holbein, Rembrandt and Rafael. I like the “Lady with an Ermie” by Leonardo (of which I’ve seen a picture wherein ally soldiers take it from a box, probably recovered from Nazi’s hands!). I like the multitude scenes from Bueghel. I like Vermeer’s interiors, Hammershoi’s women from behind. I like the drunks from the impressionists more than the impressionist themselves: all Degas, except the ballerinas, all Gauguin and Van Gogh, all Seurat, the Americans Whistler and Singer Sargent and Ramon Casas, a Catalan painter. I like the light of the still life and animals from Jan Menkas and I like the undulating and depressive landscapes from Munch. I would like to have the sensitivity of Paul Klee, perhaps the most influential painter in illustration, especially in those aimed towards children. I like almost everything about Peter Blake. I Like Bacon, of course. I like the young Lucien Freud, afterwards it gets repetitive. I like Edward Hopper that is ancient and modern at the same time. From the contemporaries, I like the ones who are intellectual but still desire to paint (paint well, that is) as Gerard Richter and Peter Doig. Enough, right?

Q: You are very fond of portraits. Is there any detail that is common to all your portraits, something that you always want to point out?
A: I like to work with looks which have something dark, painful or menacing in the eyes. Although I’m trying to get out of this, I guess it is something my hand does without thinking and where I fall to rest after drawing other less spontaneous things.


Q: Many of your illustrations have a Symbolist character. Where does this subjectivity come from?
A: I am not sure if I just understood the question. I make no allegories nor encrypted messages. Maybe everything is built in the attempt to make sense, in the effort of meaning. The most narrative works have dark themes, born of images that happen to me, and in the most naturalistic, which are based upon photos or nature, darkness or estrangement occurs through technique or context. I guess the symbolism you’re talking about is related to the process of image distortion which unites both types of work. The symbol is clear but also hidden and I try to clarify it, to make sense from it. Maybe this doesn’t explain much as I have just invented this answer, like in a digression, but I don’t think it’s less valid. In the whole process there are some characteristics of playing games, of spontaneity, of low thinking and pure fun.

gabriel2 gabriel5

Q: Which recent movie have you enjoyed the most?
A: From the most recent and that I’ve watched in the cinema (yes, I still go to the movies usually) I found Nymphomaniac interesting, especially the first part. The problem is I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. I found the ending disappointing (the second part) which makes me question whether I understood something of the film. Reviewing the file downloads (yes, I am one of those who frequently downloads movies) I liked Mud, Esa Sureña del Río, The Child and the Fugitive, The Wolf of Wall Street and Gente en Sitios, which is a Spanish movie that I liked in recent years, with a very dark and stupid kind of humor.

Q: What kind of music do you like to listen while you are working?
A: No specific type of music. I listen to everything, with no problems regarding style, genre or period. I don’t have much criteria hahaha. But it is certain that there is always something playing, be it music or radio. Recently, I came back to listening to P.J. Harvey. Everything she plays and sings is touched by beauty.

gabriel4Q: Please name us a work that you would like to hang on your wall.
A: Free choice? Man, I would line up all the self-portraits of Rembrandt, from the first paintings and prints done when he was a youngster to the many portraits from the older ages, when he was consumed by grief and loneliness. All life and art of Rembrandt in a film pellicle sequence almost. I would also like to have the first Bacon triptychs, painted when he was young, those of the crucifixion, full of red jaws and violence. I would put them in the children’s room.

Q: Which are your most unusual sources of inspiration?
A: Here we enter swamps hahahaha. As I said, I have little discretion and I like to eat everything. I think some things are clearly seen in my drawings, as customarily jumping topics, techniques and styles. I like common things, like horror movies and science fiction, every sort of comic book, including superheroes, but also more bizarre things, such as scientific illustration, ancient hermeticism, occult science or the history of the classical old world. I do not know too much of the illustration world (now I’m catching up). I come from everything that may be liked by people of faculties of philology and fine arts who spent more time in a bar than in class.

Q: Could you make a scribble or sketch telling a bit of your mental process for creation?
A: Yes, here it goes.


Moltes gràcies, Pau! :)