Marina Esmeraldo

After studying architecture, Marina Esmeraldo, Brazilian artist finds her passion in modern art which lead her to illustrate. “It’s exciting to mix all the disciplines I’ve studied and worked with!” says Marina. Self employed illustrator works on personal projects to large commercial work for clients like Pepsi, Nike, Adidas and also work for Abortion Rights and Women’s March. With a stead flow of global commissions Marina is also Co Founder and art director of In Shades Magazine, a platform to collaborate with other artists along with short stories. We sat down and talked with Marina about how she got her start with illustrating and her upcoming projects. Showcasing previous works and an ongoing series of new works she called Vanishing Point, “Where I return to my roots in architecture and investigate the balance between spatial perspective and simple compositions, shapes and colours.” she explains.

“Now I’ve come full circle and am interest in fine art again, returning to painting and also planning some sculptural experiments.”

How would you describe your style of illustrating?

Bold and tropical, with vibrant colours and bursting with experimental line & shape, pattern and composition.

I believe you went to school and studied architecture, what made you interested in illustrating?

Drawing was my early passion and I wanted to study art in school, but a lack of good programmes and ignorance regarding career prospects led me to choose a “safer” creative career in architecture. I fell in love with it during my studies, but the reality of the market quickly dampened my spirits. Ironically, with the financial crashes in the US and Europe and later in Brazil (where I’m from), architecture and building are one of the first industries to take a hit, leading to a lack of jobs. I was pursuing a masters programme in Art, Design and Public Space in Barcelona at the time, and after despairing for a bit and going through a quarter-life crisis, I eventually realised I could take the opportunity to re-invent myself and pursue illustration and commercial art. It was difficult as I had no contacts and it took a lot of hard work and hustling, but it paid off. Now I’ve come full circle and am interest in fine art again, returning to painting and also planning some sculptural experiments. It’s exciting to mix all the disciplines I’ve studied and worked with.

Do you work out of your home?

I share a studio with other designers in Poble Nou, Barcelona. I’ve worked from home for a long time, but I’ve found it really important and helpful to have a separate space to create, focus, experiment and also to connect with other people!

Amazing, you worked with so many large clients like Google, Tumblr, and publications like Hello Mr, Medium, to even Wired how did you get your foot in the door with you’re first big client? You’re freelancing full time right?

Yes, I’ve been self-employed from the beginning and I love it. My first big break was with Refinery29 in 2013, the year I really hustled to break into the industry. I befriended designer Zhang Qingyun (now art director of Hello Mr.) on Twitter years ago and after some correspondence noted that he had worked for R29. I felt really strongly that my style was very cohesive with their brand and asked Zhang for an intro, who super kindly connected us. A few days later I had my first big commission. Zhang laughs that I’m so grateful for him helping kickstart my career and says he just sent some emails, but sometimes that’s all you need! The US market is so open and to this day it’s where I get most of my income. But being a freelancer requires tons of discipline and relentless hard work. Eventually, after some years working and gathering a few big clients under my belt, I found representation in the US, which has been incredible as they often have relationships with clients I wouldn’t normally have access to.

How did you get started with In Shades Magazine?

In Shades Magazine was born from the desire to collaborate with my husband, James Vincent, writer and editor of the magazine. We also wanted to discover new talent and give them a platform, as well as work with people we admired. It’s been a brilliant two years of collaborations, but we’re winding the project down now and thinking of a great way to conclude it, and move on to the next thing.

What are some things you want to do to go out with a bang with to wrap up the 2 years of the magazine?

We’d love to throw an exhibition and do a printed publication, but would need funding for that. We’re still in planning mode.

A printed publication would be really cool. What are some things you are currently working on?

It’s been a busy summer! Currently I’m developing all the illustrations for a book launch in the autumn and excited to be painting and drawing on my own personal projects as well, which will then be collated into an exhibition later in the year.

Marina Esmeraldo
In Shades Magazine