My name is Bárbara Fonseca and I was born in a small city by the sea in Portugal 24 years ago. I started working as a freelance illustrator around a year ago.
Until then I worked for a newspaper in Portugal and also at an Interaction Design studio in Berlin as a graphic/communication designer.
Since I started working as an illustrator I’ve been working for different clients, but mainly in the area of editorial illustration and exhibitions.
I had my first solo show in August at Idrawalot in Berlin, based in a series of short stories that were written by my father.
For a year now, I’ve been running a small street gallery in Berlin with my friend Natalia Blanco, called Bootsbau.
We opened doors last April and we’ve been curating art shows with invited artists together since then.
When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
I always loved drawing but when I went to college I studied Communication Design because there wasn’t an illustration degree available in Portugal.
I worked as a designer for some time but after some thought I realised my love was really illustration and that my work kept following that direction.
I decided to embrace it once and for all and I’m really happy with my choice!
Would you recommend studying at art school?
I studied Communication Design so I don’t have a classical arts education.
I think that school is important to give you principles that you can use to grow your own identity from.
School is good if it gives you the tools to develop yourself and your own style in a informed way. I do believe that we are always learning and that everybody learns their own way. School can be perfect for some illustrators and not work at all for others!
How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
Well, illustration is not my primary form of income but I’m working really hard for it to be.
I think it’s good to try different jobs so you can be in touch with different realities and be more sensitive in how you deal with people, being them clients or anyone else.
Although for me, after managing a part-time and my illustration work, while trying to maintain a certain level of quality with little time, I think it’s the moment to go full-on freelancer!
Could you describe your typical day?
My days during the week start with work at my part-time job. I usually keep up with my reading on the subway before I start, or listen to music.
After everything is done I come home and start my real day. I do the usual and boring e-mail reading and work on some project I might have at the time.
It can also be that I go to work at the gallery, in which case I go with my friend and we get some things done there, preparing shows, cleaning and renovating the space or just hang out and enjoy the sun!
What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
I don’t know if there was something I wish I knew, because things usually happen in their own time and for their own reasons, but maybe I would have liked to be more confident at the beginning!
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Living off your creativity.
What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
Living off your creativity.
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I would love to be an explorer and find out about the wonders of the world. Or be a gardener in a pretty greenhouse. I love plants and greenhouses, they are two of my favorite things in the world!
Any other tips you could share?