“Curiosity is in our blood. In fact, many Japanese words come from Portuguese. We were the first Europeans to reach Japan and establish trade routes.” said our tour guide.
Aneta and I were in Lisbon on our honeymoon and we were learning not only about all of the city’s hidden secrets, but also about the rich history of Portugal, once an empire that reached South America, Africa, and Asia.
“We love to explore and to learn from other cultures. Most Portuguese people speak at least 2 or 3 other languages. Did you notice the mosaic ceramic tile on doorways and buildings around the city? It comes from north African Arabic influences.”
It was pretty obvious at this point that we needed to collaborate with a Portuguese artist and it dawned on us very quickly that choosing just one wouldn’t be easy.
Finally, though, we found Bibiana Grave and were immediately drawn to her mixed use of pencil and watercolor to create her vibrant, colorful, eccentric artwork.
The Feathers scarf is what developed from our collaboration, and it’s one of the most unique works in our collection.
Of course, nobody can tell you about Bibiana better than Bibiana herself. Read on to learn more about the artist and her work.
“Everything I draw and paint must have a lot of color, so I am highly attracted to everything that surrounds me and transmits this vibrance.”
Why did you decide to pursue a career in art and design? Were you always creatively-inclined or is this talent something that you had to nurture?
As a child, I always drew pictures on the school board and painted at home while waiting for my mother to finish making dinner. I’ve always had this hobby in my life so it was inevitable to pursue art professionally. Nowadays I am a designer in the shoe industry and an illustrator for textiles and accessories. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Your work is very eclectic and distinct. How would you describe your style? What inspires and motivates you?
My illustrations stem primarily from my interest in fashion illustration. The drawings of women, in particular, are inspired by the female figure framed in an imaginary ambiance. I do not dwell on concepts but rather value authentic creative freedom. I try to keep abreast of trends and color palettes.
However, I don’t follow the aesthetic concepts determined by what I call the “dictatorship of fashion”. I love to understand the frenetic tendencies of the market, but I always develop the illustrations according to my own language and expression. And I love color. Everything I draw and paint must have a lot of color, so I am highly attracted to everything that surrounds me and transmits this vibrance.
What other artists, past or present, have been your biggest influences?
I love and am fascinated by 20th-Century and Contemporary art. Some of my biggest idols are names like Edgar Degas, Rembrandt, Sandro Botticelli, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Gustav Klimt. In the area of fashion illustration I admire René Gruau, David Downton, Anna Dittmann, and Stina Persson, off the top of my head.
You recently launched your own line of women’s clothing and accessories. Can you tell us about the brand and how it came to be?
Some time ago I started a project called “Who Likes My T-shirt?“. The main objective was to have an illustration reach the largest possible number of people. What would be the most interesting way to do it? I decided to put the illustration on a banal garment, worn by everyone and accessible to all people. This is where the artwork adds value and a new dimension to the worn garment.After the original t-shirts, I followed with accessories in late 2014. The “Who Likes My Bag?” collection was born as I sought new media for illustration. My clutch bags are hand painted and released as a limited series. They are unique and non-repeating pieces.
The area of footwear design is very interesting as it allows me to research and utilize leathers and other natural materials. Here, I seek to illustrate a pattern with the leather and fabrics themselves.
What are your plans for the brand? Where do you see it in 5 years?
I intend to cement the steps already taken thus far and continue to implant and grow the brand in the market. Right now, these are the greatest objectives.
Can you describe some of the illustrations that you use in your designs? What do they represent?
My fashion illustrations were the beginning of everything. I am fascinated by the art of painting fashion – ensembles, fabrics, accessories, and all of the details of beauty. It is very rewarding to me because it involves a lot of glamour and provides a unique viewpoint to the fashion world.
How do you split your time between your clothing line and your other work?
That’s the hard part. It can be quite stressful at times and social life is often neglected! It’s necessary to give up leisure time and devote myself to the brand after a long day of work, but it’s worth it!
When you designed “Feathers” for R. Culturi, did you have to adjust your technique in order to make the designs suitable for a scarf? How did those works differ from your others?
For “Feathers” I had to optimize the quality of the painting so that natural ‘noise’ from the technique of watercolor was not visible on the fabric scarf. Drawing and painting by hand necessitates more cleaning up of the artwork afterwards, otherwise someone can mistake an imperfection as a production flaw. Apart from this, the creative process followed a genuine methodology and rhythm. I was very enthusiastic about this collaboration as it was the first time I worked with a scarf brand. I loved it!
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Work hard and don’t give up! 🙂
You can find more of Bibiana’s work on: Behance | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook