Born in Leiria, Portugal in 1986, Mariana Santos AKA "Mariana, a miserável" (the miserable one), is a graphic designer and illustrator currently based in Porto. When she was a small child she had dreams of becoming a florist, but soon enough she entered a life of "misery, cesspit and rock n' roll". One step behind the fall and a marriage of convenience, she sold her heart out in a souvenir shop to pay the bills.
But things picked up, as they often do. Studying graphic design at Escola Superior de Artes e Design (caldas da Rainha), Mariana developed her taste for "not-knowing-how-to-draw" (we find that hard to believe, as she clearly knows how to draw!) and so began her career in illustration and design.
Having recently relocated to Porto to pursue a Masters in Graphic Design and Editorial Projects at FBAUP, Mariana is also involved in a range of illustrative and collaborative projects: most notably, she is Director of Illustration at JUP, she takes part in many exhibitions (collective and solo), small publications, collective murals and she often design posters for her friends as well as calendars, magazines and books.
Here we present to you a small glimpse into the life of this talented artist. We hope you enjoy!
When did you realise this is what you wanted to be doing?
When I was little I really wanted to be a florist but then I grew up and I no longer knew what I wanted to be. Meanwhile I've been doing what I love to do.
What is it that influences or inspires your work?
Conversations with friends, heartbreaks , soap operas, myself, my neighbors, the finance department, the bad days, my bad luck, lowered expectations, ugly women, bad guys, the misery of life, Beyonce and many things I find on the internet every day.
Have those influences changed over time?
The influences are basically the same but, as time passes by, everything becomes even more confusing and strange. They call it growing up!
How do you find living and working in Portugal?
Portugal has so much potential, there are so many creative people doing cool things here! However, it's difficult to making a living from illustration... I see most of my colleagues letting themselves live in their parents house or applying for jobs that are in no way related to illustration to gain some financial independence.
And then there are those who flee from here because they believe there are more opportunities in other countries and perhaps they are right.
"Despite everything, we have sunny days, strip houses and genius people willing to do things... to have ideas and make them happen, often without receiving any money for it."
How would you describe your work?
It’s a huge predisposition for disaster, lack of talent for everything and a lack of care with the materials. It’s inevitable, but I end up by taking advantage of all that.
If I could live anywhere it would be… right here in Porto but in a better house.
I would love to collaborate with… ideally, I would like to work with a group of friends where there is no boss.
I wish I knew how to… cut onions without crying.
If I could have any super power it would be... being invisible. Having Harry Potter's invisibility cloak would be really fun in some situations.
At the end of a long day I like to… eat all the food I have in the fridge!
Right now I'm listening to… Otis Redding :)
I love eating… waffles (thank god for waffles!)
The last great movie I saw was… Django Unchained <3