Comic artist and illustrator Filipa Beleza on surviving lockdown
Filipa Beleza is a comic book artist and illustrator.
She studied Communication Design in Porto and currently lives in Barcelona, drawing her own existential crisis and everyone else’s.
Can you give a brief background of your career to date and overview of your current artistic practice?
After college I got an internship in a comic book studio in Barcelona, where I was supposed to just stay for a few months while deciding which masters’ program I would like to apply to the following year. But when the internship ended I was already in love with the city and eager to learn more about drawing and inking comics the traditional way so I ended up taking the job offer to stay and work there. In my free time I kept drawing my own stuff and my style started to change quite a bit, the recurrent connecting element being that I was always creating illustrations with some humor to it. I started to get clients interested in my personal work and once I started to realize what was my identity as an illustrator I decided that it was time to go back to school to get that master’s degree and launch my freelance career.
Where did you study and when did you graduate?
I studied Communication Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto and graduated in 2014 and then in 2019 I completed a master’s in Illustration and Comics through Elisava, in Barcelona.
Where do you live? What do you like most about your city?
I am currently staying in my hometown, Braga, in Portugal. To me it means friends, family and good coffee!
How would you describe your work in 5 words?
Witty, colorful, happy, elegant and relatable.
How are you keeping busy / coping with lockdown?
Because I usually get my inspiration from the things that happen in my daily life, or even in my friends’, I found it a bit hard to come up with ideas while locked at home and during such stressful times. After a few weeks I did start to have very vivid dreams and decided to turn to that for inspiration instead, so in a sense it opened the doors for me to explore more surreal and metaphorical images in my personal work.
What has been your favourite illustration project (personal or client work) over the last 12 months and why?
I am very happy with the first project I got after the lockdown, which was to paint a mural for a beauty center. It was my second time doing something like that and the first time on my own. It was great to switch from digital illustration to brushes and paint for a while and I had such a great time that I am already planning my next one!
Describe a typical day? How do you split your time between client work and personal work?
The ideal situation is if I can dedicate a full day to client work and then the next morning or even the whole day to my personal projects. That is way easier said than done but I do find it important to take a step back from a project to do something else and then come back and see if I am still happy with the way it is going, because sometimes we spend so long looking at the same thing that we lose perspective or even get stuck in problems that a few hours later will present themselves as much less complicated than we initially thought.
What’s next for you? Where do you hope to take your art in the next 3-5 years?
I love it when I get messages from people telling me that they really see themselves, or someone they know, in one of my illustrations and that it made them laugh. So I am hoping that in the next few years I will be able to see at least one book of my own out there to which hopefully more people can relate to and get a few laughs from!