October 26, 2011

Now That I Think About It

An Interview with Dante DeStefano

Part 1 of 2 (link to
Part 2)
Click any image to enlarge

My interview with
Dante DeStefano (noting up front that she is indeed a lady of the female persuasion) started back in March of this year. We traded a few correspondences back and forth and she kept me nicely updated about her progress! So gold stars all around for any foreheads that want them (I have to always buy the extra large bags full of same for my dome but still have one or two left)! I would also like to confirm that I actually wanted to publish this a few weeks back and that the awesomely timely publication right before Halloween is unrelated to anything. Yeah.

I did begin to feel a little guilty though as she mentioned that even though she was appreciative of me ‘taking the time to really thoroughly research my work and background’, that in some ways I had thrown her for a bit of a loop. I don’t know, but I guess from my ‘side of the table’, I just begin to get nervous when someone says ‘hm, never really thought about that before and now you’re keeping me up nights wondering what it’s all about really.’ Okay, I’m paraphrasing, but Dante did say that I’d given her a lot to think about and all I can say is that when that happens to me, I’m up for days with a migraine.

But I guess it was a good experience for all of us, even if my typical bang-on-your-door-until-you-open-up style was supposedly more in depth than any other questionnaire about her art and career that she’d answered before. Dante did say that was cool with her and that actually, after starting the interview she said the process helped her make some changes in her presentation and focuses (focusi?), that is, on her website and other places.

Anyway, I hope that the process did indeed turn out to be beneficial to her – not that her work needs it for sure because she totally rocks. And I think we’ll all learn something, too, which is nice! So let’s get right down to it, shall we? Yes, let’s!


Welcome, Dante! Before we even get started on the whole art shtick, I have to ask : I’ve been lucky in the past to spend a few fantastic weeks in Florence (Italy) and the surrounding areas. With that in mind: how did you come about receiving your fantastic yet historically interesting first name?
Hi Ziggy! Oooh, I’ve been to Florence, too. It’s gorgeous. My dad is from Italy, so I get to go see my family there occasionally.

Anyway, “Dante” is kind of an interesting name. For starters, I’m a lady. I like having a boy’s name. My art isn’t always very feminine, so people expect male artist a lot of the time. I kind of have an androgynous mind.

Also, “Dante” means “enduring”. It’s a strong name. I like to think that I can go through Hell and back and totally kick ass doing so.

OK, thanks for letting me get that out of the way. Can you tell us then please what you’re working on now (or more accurately stated, when we’re actually doing the talking bits)?
I’m working on my freelance illustration assignments and I’m excited to begin working on a new series of paintings for a show at
Kai Lin Art gallery in Atlanta called “Monsters 2.0”, opening in September. It’s the sequel to the first “Monsters” show that opened that time last year. I’m also touring around and tabling at different festivals and conventions in the Southeast. The next big con I’ll be at is Dragon*Con here in Atlanta. You can check out my blog to see where I’ll be at other upcoming shows.

Also, I’m working on a comic book series called “Ragbone” about the adventures of a 1920’s ragtime jazz band of skeletons in a fun and spooky netherworld inhabited only by other skeletons, ghosts, and demons. I have the first five issues planned out. It’s a labour or love and I work on it in between working on my freelance projects and other jobs, so the first book is still in the early stages of development.

What about your background and what led you to where you are today? How about your earliest and current inspirations?
Like most other artists, I loved drawing and making things as a kid. My old brother, Nic, was also an obsessive drawer and he really helped fuel my love of art, comics and cartoons when we were growing up together.

As a kid, my favourite comic was
Walt Kelly’s ‘Pogo the Possum’. I was never really into superheroes and villains, but I loved humorous stories and oddball comics. Having said that, I naturally love so many of today’s true stars including Jeff Smith (‘Boneville’), Doug Tennaple (‘Ratfist’), Jamie Hewlett (‘Tank Girl’ and ‘Gorillaz’), Ralph Steadman (he of ‘Gonzo Art’ fame!), and Rob Schrab.

Also, I’ve got to say that
Tom Waits is my biggest overall creative influence! I’ve been listening to his music since I was 8 years old and can still remember the daydreams that I had while enjoying his music. I’m also very influenced by literature by authors like H.P. Lovecraft and I’m a total film nut. I love any story that can scare the pants off of me (which is not easy to do) or broaden my imagination.

Later on, I attended
SCAD-Atlanta for a couple years in Sequential Art and ended up transferring to graduate from Portfolio Center’s illustration department. I learned a lot from both schools, but I have to give it up to my teacher Gary Weiss and friends at PC for paving the way and ingraining the good work ethic that I have today. Without them, I think I’d still be clueless. I love comics and cartoons, but I also love classic painters, impressionists, golden age illustrators, and plein air.

Most recently, my biggest creative influences have been my friends. It feels so awesome to be able to say that because it’s true and it’s great to have some of my favourite artists and people in general as creative support. Some of these friends have been there since I was at PC. Some of them I met later at festivals, conventions and art groups. They’re all amazing artists I’m blessed to have them by my side.

Now, I’ve been to Hot-lanta many a time (although I will not divulge all reasons here for same, mostly in order to protect the innocent). What’s the art scene like there?
Hahaha, honestly, I’m still not sure. We have one, but I’ve only been a part of it for maybe a year, so I’m still getting a feel for what’s going on.

Unfortunately, a lot of our galleries have closed their doors after being hit by the recession. Since that is true, I feel that there has been a shift towards small artists’ groups, studios and short term, “underground” art parties. Also, artists here are reaching out to different venues other than traditional galleries, like restaurants, cafes and boutiques. I consider this a smart move. It just shows that our artists are adaptable.

I’m very fortunate to be working with a wonderful gallery like Kai Lin Art. The owner, Yu-Kai, keeps a great eye out for emerging and local artists and his gallery is stocked with a mix of light-hearted, quirky work and uniquely beautiful, but more serious pieces.

You seem to have a pretty wide and even eclectic selection of different outlets and even materials you work for and with, including children’s media, oil painting, apparel and surface design, cartooning, and artwork for music and bands. Why do you think you are – or perhaps better said – want to be so ‘focused’ on and involved in so many different outlets?
Again, honestly, this is because I’m such a noob!

(ZN: we think – but are not 100% sure – this stands for ‘newbie’ or someone who is new at something... we googled it, and are pretty convinced that about half of the links and images we got back are NOT what Dante means!)

Right now, I’m focusing mainly on art that I sell at shows and freelance illustration. What I like to do most of all is art that is in my own style. In school, first I focused on comics, then on children’s media. Later on, I discovered the possibilities of freelance illustration and kids media.

At the beginning of 2010, I had just gotten over a round of illustration gigs that I got right after graduating. They didn’t end very well, so I took some time, without looking for clients, to soul-search and focus on making artwork that I enjoyed doing, whether other people liked it or not. This is something I’ve learned from listening to the music of Tom Waits. You’ve just got to make what feels right and the weirder it is, the better it gets. Luckily, people like it.

It wasn’t until I started listening to myself and making art for the love of it that I began getting work that I enjoyed out of it. My website is very broad and sometimes scattered because I’m still getting my name out there and trying to find my niche. As an illustrator, right now I need to display a wide range of my talents in order to get different kinds of work until I get more well known for my own unique style that I’ve begun to cultivate.

Continued in
Part 2

Now That I Think About It

An Interview with Dante DeStefano

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click any image to enlarge

Dante, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking through your different portfolios on your home page, well done! A couple or even seventeen or so questions to these:

Your different collections show a wide range of styles. Are you still looking for that ‘one’ (+/-) style that defines your work or is this something that you would rather avoid? I guess I’m asking : how important is it to you that someone sees one of your pieces and says ‘hey, now that is DEFINITELY a Dante DeStefano’?
It’s become very important. As a young artist, I’m just starting to feel comfortable in my own skin and build a body of work that is definitive of my own unique vision. The more I draw or paint, the clearer that style becomes.

Also, the clearer I can see what it is I want to focus on. I totally dig all things spooky, vintage and rock ‘n’ roll. Those things live in my heart and just seem to roll off of my fingertips onto the page.

Also, this may be a rather obvious statement: but it seems you clearly have an affinity for monsters. How did this come about?
I’ve always loved monsters, robots, mythical creatures, and weird things of the like. I love pushing the boundaries of exaggeration and coming up with odd combinations of parts to put on my characters. As a result, a lot of my sketches turn out to be monsters.
They’re my special friends. We go on adventures in my head and some of them end up on paper or whatever. I’ll also watch just about any monster movie out there. I’m a huge horror fan.

I enjoyed as well your quote about your furry (or scaly or...) friends, including what I believe is even a picture of your cat (or bat?) below:

Each of these monsters have their own personalities, so when I start drawing, I had to let them just be themselves and tell me what they look like.

What comes first with these : their personalities or their shapes, colours, appendages, catalogue of victims, etc.?
I think it’s a mix of shapes and appendage combinations.

All of my work begins with simple geometric shapes. I push and pull those basic shapes around and combine them in an interesting way until they become the start of a good creature. Then I look at what kind of creature it is starting to look like and add some features to them that maybe wouldn’t typically be on that kind of animal.

Can you walk us through your oil paint ‘rub-out technique’ for many of these works? That sounds fascinating and the imagery as well as the texture you achieve is fantastic!
Yes, oil rub is wonderful on its own, but I’ve married that technique with a texture called “mastic”. They work wonderfully together because the rub-out picks up all of the wonderful cracks and layers of the texture.

An oil rub-out begins with covering an entire surface with a thin layer of paint and then rubbing out the light parts that I want with a brush or rag dipped in oil. The layered texture is achieved with smearing mastic over hand-cut stencils and found objects.

Is it important for you to have a balance between what seems to be sometimes inorganic and organic aspects of your art?
Totally! Like I said earlier, I always start my characters and compositions with basic geometric shapes as a foundation, but I like to add lots of organic flourishes as secondary elements. I also like the final painting or product to have a rustic, handmade look that compliments the inorganic shapes. This is especially apparent in my watercolour and ink wash paintings.

Even in the shapes I like to use, I like a balance of straight lines and curves. I also love playing with common-lines and tangents to flatten out spaces on purpose. Those can be an artist’s worst enemy if you don’t know how to use them.

I’m also very impressed with your collection of design and self-made textiles. How did you get interested in the more apparel and/or fashion side of life?
I love fashion and dressing up. I’ve spent a lot of time shopping around in thrift stores. Surface design is one of the largest industries that designers with a background in illustration can get into. It’s one of the few in-house design career options that are available right now for someone with my skills.

Maybe someday after I’ve sewn my wild oats (ZN: is that even legal in Atlanta?), I’ll work at a company making surface designs as a full-time job and be able to work on my fine art and comics in my free time. Plus, pattern design is fun and lets me play around with color.

Now as a fellow Cancer, I am somewhat surprised by your... hm, let’s call them ‘special abilities’, particularly as I would think they'd be more of a 'Scorpio' thing. But can you tell us: what exactly are “lobster powers?” And without putting you and the good citizens of Atlanta in danger by revealing too much to your enemies, but how did you come about gaining these powers (and also, how often do you need to communicate telepathically with crustaceans in your work)?
As you mentioned, “lobster powers” is the ability to communicate with crustaceans. You see, I was pinched by a radioactive lobster at the Dekalb Farmers Market one day and developed these abilities soon after. I can also use the powers to call upon my pinchy-clawed friends to help me fight my enemies when needed.

Otherwise, Lobster Powers is also the name of my Tumblr blog.

Back to the real world but only barely: I read on your blog that you’ve just returned from MegaCon. How much preparation and late night hours do you spend working and getting ready for cons aka conventions? Do you attend a lot of these?
I attend Dragon*Con every year just for fun and I’ll be tabling there this year. Cons are a blast. I just started tabling at conventions and festivals last year.

MegaCon was my second comic convention artist table experience and the first time that I’ve ever travelled for art’s sake. It was a successful trip and I had a great time doing it. You meet so many awesome people at these things. It’s been a great way to get my work out to my kind of people. I definitely plan to do more. It does take a lot of preparation to table at a con, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Also, do you as a ‘displayer’ see these as a big advantage for your career or are they more along the lines of ‘necessary evils’?
Being an artist at events like these has been a wonderful opportunity. It’s definitely a big plus. It’s a great excuse to travel and form friendships with people in other places. I wouldn’t get that chance otherwise.

Growing up wanting to be a puppeteer myself (I had all kinds of felt puppets and my dad even made a fantastic full-sized ‘theater’), I was happy to see that you are also involved in puppetry. How did your involvement in this come about? Do you see any revival if you will of this art form, either from a making them or using them in shows perspective?
In Atlanta, we are very fortunate to have
The Center For Puppetry Arts, America’s largest puppet theatre, museum and puppetry community centre. I’ve been attending shows there since I was 4 years old. The Centre made a big impact on my childhood.

I also attended their “puppet camp” for many years and then went on to do a short production internship in the workshop and on stage. Puppetry as an art form goes back to ancient times and will always be around in some way.

And while we’re on the subject, I was overjoyed to see that you, too, are a Muppet fan! What did Jim Henson and co.’s wonderful creatures mean to your creative upbringing?
Holy crap! I don’t know if I can express how much I love all things Muppets and Jim Henson!!

As a kid, I spent hours watching the shows and movies, reading books about the Creature Shop, making puppets, and putting on puppet shows for my friends and family. Henson and puppetry in general had a huge impact on my creativity. It hasn’t stopped, either. I still crack up while watching ‘The Muppet Show’. Nowadays, one of my favourite things about the skits in that show is how simple they are. Think of “
Mahnahmahnah”. A skit like that is just made up of a nonsense song and the characters dancing around to it and it’s hilarious!

I try to convey that same light-heartedness and simplicity in my artwork. When things get too complex and heavy, I just think of The Muppets and lighten up.

Okay, time to REALLY put you on the spot : if you had to choose just ONE area to work on, what would it be and why? Conversely, are there any other areas you’d like to take a stab at (knoting the knitting reference there, knice, huh?)?
At this point, I’d have to say I’d like to focus on “fine art”.

Even though I’ve worked with a lot of different media outlets, it all boils down to three areas: art, illustration and design. They all work together harmoniously. The “art” area is basically stuff that I did without “adult supervision” or a client when I’m making it. This is the stuff that makes me really happy. It seems to me that when I focus on and show this work that I receive more illustration or design work as well.

What else have you had / do you have on your creative radar for the coming moons?
Other than Monsters 2.0 and
Dragon*Con which have now ended, I want to try and find some new homes for my art outside of Atlanta. I was going to do a tour of South and North Carolina with that in mind but the con wound up taking more prep time than I expected. On my 'to do' list for sure!

I also wanted to try and be at Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend in Orlando, Florida in early October - as it's an event that really looks like it's tailor-made for my work! - but things were just too busy to make it. I'm looking to try and be there possibly next year though.

But I do plan on being in lots of arts festivals in Atlanta, hopefully in the coming months. So if you’re in the area, keep an eye out for me. In between and beyond all of that, I’m open for commissions and freelance illustration!!


Dante DeStefano is a very talented young visual artist, illustrator, designer, and mad creator currently plying her trade primarily in the warm climes of Atlanta, Georgia! I’d add something about her obvious charm as well but methinks I’d suddenly feel the psychic grip of lobster claws around my neck if I did ... so I, um, won’t.

Among the ever-growing skill-set she brings to the table are her well-versed abilities with both traditional and also digital media. She skips about just as happily as can be between fine art and commercial design, letting perspectives from both worlds influence each other harmoniously. We’re not sure what that means exactly but we promise to test out various ‘enhancing substances’ to see if we feel the same way, too!

Her current main focuses are oil painting, children’s media, surface design, cartooning, and artwork for music. Dante’s work can be regularly found in galleries, including the fantastically supportive Kai Lin Art gallery! These days you’ll find her doing all kinds of creative stuff including working as a freelance illustrator, touring at comic book conventions and art festivals, and just in general honing the fine art of mad science to perfection!

Please check out more of Dante’s monstrously fun images and more at these and other links!


Social media

Additional Galleries
Kai Lin Art
Homegrown Decatur


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Dante DeStefano, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. In all cases, we invite you to visit the artist’s site(s) for more, including the links provided above.

September 26, 2011

Timelessness Is On His Side

An Interview with Bernardo França

Part 1 of 2 (link to
Part 2)
Click on any image to enlarge

I think most if not all of us have a given association or affinity for a given period in time other than current day. And many times that affinity is defined through the fashion or through the music or even through the arts and crafts of the period.

I’m sure we all have friends that adore, for example, the Victorian look and no doubt have some bone-crushingly fashionable item like a good solid leather corset on stand-by at all times! Oh, such Fair(e) Maidens indeed! Others may prefer the more ‘modern’ look presented, for example, by the American television series ‘Mad Men’, which is resplendent with a stylish wardrobe full of sleek suits for the men and that ‘hi honey, your cocktail is ready and the kids are in bed’ look for the ladies of the house! Yes, those simpler day when questions like ‘Ward, weren’t you a little hard on The Beaver last night?’ garnered nary a second glance!

And still others may go for the look of a 50’s rock-a-billy / sock hop dance or the bad guy feel of a sturdy leather jacket, white tee-shirt and thick Ray-Ban glasses (which have no doubt gone up several thousand percent since then in price, even though the design and construction has not changed). Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been fitted for that ‘soup kitchen’ ensemble that should be reaching every shore in the coming months as the world-wide economy continues to slide into irreparable collapse and depression. But I digress and politicise a bit, too (still if you do have soup, I will sell my organs for same)!

My point is simply that if you know of a Look – with the L capitalised for safe measure – then you associate not only a fashion style with same but also a feel, an atmosphere and even a yearning for what may or may not have been (or seemed to have been) a better time. And Bernardo França has achieved that with his illustration and graphic work. His sleek lines and playful yet well-constructed scenes do indeed hark back to the days of a good relaxing day at the beach, listening to the latest jazz songs from the local college radio station on your AM radio and just thrilling at the sheer joy of being alive!

So join me for a partially nostalgic yet totally amazing journey to South America to meet this talented and very passionate young artist!


Welcome Bernardo! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, please, and also your background?
Hello Ziggy! First, I want to thank you for having me. Projects like yours are a thrilling initiative for the art-lovers world.

In terms of my upbringing in the art world: my family were all architects, including my mom, my father, and sister... and myself, too! Plus, I was born in Brasília – Brazil’s capital which has featured for many years some of the highest achievements in Modern Architecture and Urbanism! You really have to understand just how Modern Architecture – especially throughout the 1950´s and 1960´s – was such a big deal in Brazil!

So you can say I was under influence of modernism since I was born! But it was only recently (something like 3 years) that I got became more ‘intimate’ with what I guess you could call my Modern Cartoon style – I remember the visual impact it had on me after a friend introduced me to some of the work of the UPA (
United Productions of America). From then on, I just could not stop loving, studying and researching its revolutionary designs.

Bernardo, your style is a lovely reminder of the ‘nouveau art’ or modern illustration greats from especially the 1950’s and 1960’s. Why were you so drawn to this style?
Ah, about the Art Nouveau: my first memories go back to when I was a young kid in my house. My parents had some paintings (also poster-art and mirrors) with art from late 19th century – early 20th century. And in this fantastic little collection of theirs were works by Alphonse Mucha,
Aubrey Beardsley and Eliseu Visconti. And later it would be these same artists, this same style and this same period in art history that would bring me to search for what I call the highest level or sense of elegance.

That’s an amazing collection of influences! Have you had other specific major influences in your development as an artist?
I could go on forever mentioning those who have influenced me and of course continue to influence me! There are just so many amazing artists that have touched my life!

I would like to acknowledge several and even divide them up a little if that’s okay:
(ZN – fine by me, if everyone promises to look them all up themselves!)

Modernists: UPA Studio, Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, Walt Peregoy, Peter Arno, Jim Flora, Ronald Searle, Ziraldo (Brazil).

What I call ‘Elegance artists’, obviously then from the realm of ‘fine art’: Joseph Leyendecker, Charles Dana Gibson, Alphonse Mucha, Robert McGinnis, Erich Sokol, Rene Gruau, Alceu Penna and J. Carlos (these last two are Brazilian artists).

And like I say, there are many artists from today that inspire me as well! I definitely have to highlight the names of two Frenchmen –
Pascal Campion and Matthieu Forichon – as well as the Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi.

In fact, these artists are so important to me that I keep a running list of my influences (especially those that are animation related) in the ‘links’ section on
my blog! Check it out!

How about your training specifically in illustration? Were you always interested in being an illustrator and/or designer?
I’ve illustrated or let’s say drawn since I can remember. But it was only when I hit my final semesters in Architecture school that I realised it was to become my goal in life.

In terms of training, well, I’m pretty much self-taught! True, it takes a lot of practising and studying. I do my best to focus on what works well with a certain artist’s approach and incorporate this kind of understanding in my own artistic development.

Wow, so you actually studied architecture in college! I did like your statement that you ‘did not pursue the profession because (you) left everything for a torrid affair with (your) mistress - Illustration.’ What made you make the leap from the very ‘organised’ world of designing buildings to want to pursue ‘drawing’ instead?
That’s an interesting question. As I was finishing up my degree and getting ready to graduate – especially right up towards the end of my studies – I began to realise that a life in Architecture wasn’t a future for me.

It’s just for me – as an architect – I saw that the ‘drawn lines’ had a very complex process before they became actual parts of a built environment. In addition, this line – in the world of the architect – is further subjugated to politics, to other architects (if you have superiors), to ‘nosy’ clients, and more! I also knew that my lines could be subordinated even to the construction workers mood that day of work! And realising this was a lot for me to accept!

Not to mention that an architecture project takes months (or years!) to be accomplished. Again, I just had this realisation that my drawn lines could take a long, long time to become a final product!

However, working as an illustrator, I get to see the final product almost simultaneously as I do it. The best part for me is still that I get to exclude many of the middle-men throughout the process. It goes to an artist-client system and the time then until my line is ‘built’ is so much quicker!

I have to say though, that even if I didn’t pursue a career in Architecture, I wouldn’t change my education and experience for anything. The education I had was designed to provide a very ‘complete’ formation for the students – to understand a project as a whole and to see how the big picture would be brought together by different elements (processes).

Still, it saddens me that I see Architecture is distancing itself academically from Fine Arts, where it was born. Only a few colleagues were close to drawing while my time in school. I still think of Architecture as the highest form of art, as it is the closest to people’s everyday lives, but I hope it never loses it’s connection to the roots of Fine Arts!

Looking at other forms of great art, it is apparent that music also plays an important role in your both your daily life as well as your illustration work, where you have pieces showing great classic rhythm and blues plus jazz performers and yet also hip hop and even punk. What are your music tastes and how do they influence your artwork?
Like the great Bob Marley says: ‘
One good thing about music / when it hits you, you feel no pain

I know it isn’t pain for me like Bob is suggesting in his lyrics, but when the music hits me, I certainly feel something! And it is positively overwhelming. 95% of my drawing time, I’m listening to music and I love to pay homage to the artists that bring me to such a joyful state.

In fact, my research has become such a great part of my life and its mostly directed to these two fields: graphic-art and music (I’m a movie enthusiast as well). And with the Internet today, one have access to the most beautiful cultural things ever created, ranging of course from images of the world’s best paintings to an endless stream of great music!

For example, I can only imagine for example how hard it was for a European 19th century artist to put his hand on a print from a Latin-American artist. So, in my life, the Internet has turned out to be an endless source of knowledge. And for me, it’s like Dub music ideology: ‘Everything is out there for you to use it, to arrange the elements in your own way!’ And I truly apply this to my personal work.

I love instrumental music (especially to work), and ‘black’ music in general (Soul music, R'n'B, Afrobeat). Plus, I just loooooooove Jamaican music produced between the 1950’s through the 80’s, as well as Jazz , Funk, World Music (Balkans, Mexican...), Hip-Hop from the golden era (90’s) and great Brazilian music.

For me, I just feel music really helps to set my mood right. For example, if I’m doing a piece that tells a story about a suffering but hopeful lady, I wouldn’t think twice to illustrate it with a
Dinah Washington tune. It puts me in the right mood and the right frame of mind to capture it perfectly!

Continued in Part 2

Timelessness Is On His Side

An Interview with Bernardo França

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any image to enlarge

Bernardo, even at this relatively early stage in your career, your work has already been featured in a number of magazines as well as for books, calendars and much more. What has been your favourite ‘outlet’ so far for your illustrations?
I really enjoy seeing my illustrations in books – I just feel books have this everlasting feeling behind them.

Magazines are a cool place to publish, too. It spreads your work and your name very effectively – even though magazines are somewhat of a dying media today.

Is there a different way of displaying your work that you have NOT had a chance to explore as much as you’ve wanted to so far?
You know, I’d really like to do murals. I feel like murals are an exponentially cool way of combining and expressing art and architecture – or really art and any space. I love how a mural can completely change a whole environment.

Speaking of your work and how it is exhibited, I very much enjoyed reading about the ENOX Expressions 2011 where the artworks of 40 artists were distributed all over Brazil, including ‘especially bar toilets – the best place for art ever’! That is so funny! How does it feel to have your work displayed in such a ‘unique’ location for art? Do you have any advice for anyone trying to enter the ‘art in toilets’ market?
I actually made a mistake with that quote where I said ‘especially bar toilets’. In fact, ENOX Expressions artwork were destined ONLY for bar toilets! But I have to say, bathrooms are the best – sometimes the lighting on these rooms is better than in renowned galleries!

In this case, ENOX placed the different art directly in front of, well, your ‘station area’. So while you were busy doing your ‘business’, you had plenty of time to check out the art. This project took place simultaneously in many, many toilets nation-wide including in bars, malls, and restaurants.

But you know, when I sell a small original art-work, I in fact usually suggest they hang it in their toilet! Its great marketing strategy actually, because many people use the space (= rotation!) and they have private time to appreciate it - hehehe. I guess that’s my advice for those who want to enter 'art in toilets' market.

Looking at your style in more depth, in addition to the line-work, I am especially drawn to the often understated coloration. How do you approach the colour selection for your pieces?
I’m really not that educated when it comes to colouring. I feel I still have a long way to go with that. Ha, maybe my signature ‘understated look’ is a reflection of my lack of knowledge! I don't know.

The only thing I’m really, I guess, logical about is how to use colours to (re-)enforce the message of my drawings, for example, to point out something that I want to be evident. Again, the important thing is the message behind the illustration – that’s what must be prioritised.

You also have some more abstract work in your on-line portfolio. What attracts you to this type of expression?
While I'm drawing, I'm also constantly tracing 'option lines'. Sometimes ‘the right line’ comes out with the first stroke of my pen; but other times I have to really work at it, sometimes it seems for an endless number of times until I find ‘the one’ for which I’m looking.

I find the result of this construction process fascinating and very often incorporate this to a final art-work. Using these ‘guidelines’ and when you add them all together, it may create what looks like an abstract piece; but they are actually a way to get to a figurative model. For me anyway, it’s just a way of seeing it differently.

I’m interested in some of your different ‘projects’ including that you exhibit quite a large number of ‘sketches’ and even character studies. I would think that this must be difficult if you are afraid a piece is not finished or perfected.

As such, why do you like to display your work in this more ‘unfinished’ form?
Sketchbooks are a great chance to really understand the thinking process of an artist. I believe – as many other artists do – that a sketchbook provides a look into that time when one really frees himself to create.

My sketchbook production is very prolific, but having said that I think I like to display them to show ideas that sometimes are destined to stay in an everlasting ‘unfinished look’. The key is to let it all out – and many times, my friends and fellow artists will comment on something they liked. Or even better, they’ll point out something that wasn’t clear or didn't work out for one specific piece.

In addition, I’m curious about your ‘Friday Girl’ illustrations. How did you get the idea to illustrate a different ‘femme fatale’ each week?
Friday-gal was me trying to have some sort of weekly contract or assignment that I agreed to with myself. It’s really a way of having some built in discipline. I love drawing women so I figured it would be perfect for this exercise. Something that with time could generate a series that would fit together even if the pieces themselves might be very varied.

Sometimes I don’t get a chance to be as creative as I’d like to be with this, probably because I’m busy with work. But other times I do try to come up with a different approach to an image. So I keep learning that way – and this personal growth is indispensable.

These illustrations are also interesting in that they’re not limited to just ‘girls in hot bikinis’ or other pin-up types, with some being quite full-figured and Rubenesque in their beauty. Is it important to you to vary the type of woman you are illustrating?
Again, I don't think I vary the pieces as much as I would like to. I definitely have to work more on that. But hell yeah it's important to have in your personal repertory as many girls as possible! After all, every woman is unique!

Still, as I said before it depends on the story you’re trying to tell. Sometimes for an illustration, emphasising a certain quality of the body – like is the lady slim as a twig or round like a ice-cream ball – really adds to the message you want to pass on to your viewers! And no matter what, the girls are all beautiful!

Having said that, do you have your own preference in terms of what body-types you illustrate?
My eye - or let's say my mind's eye - differentiates between what is true beauty compared to ugliness very easily. Luckily, for me, this beauty comes in many, many different ways and forms - so I couldn't say I have a preferred type. And me? Well, I try to fall in love everyday - sometimes more than 4 or 5 times a day.

You’ve mentioned having a keen interest in working on background illustration, correct? Is there a big animation industry to work with in Brazil?
Yes, I really have a strong desire to work as a background artist for animation. Works of professionals such as Eyvind Earle, Walt Peregoy, Jules Engels, Paul Julian, Bob McIntosh, Lew Keller and Mary Blair (old schoolers) and from today’s production Scott Willis, Kevin Dart, Dan Krall, William Wray and Drake Brodahl are such a great influence over me.

But the problem remains that the animation industry is VERY small in Brazil - it just isn't encouraged. In fact, Brazil lacks places to train and build these professionals. Even illustration - there's not one University with this as a major degree here.

For me, I think that drawing per se in Brazil is always associated with a type of ‘inner self-involvement’. This really saddens me, because we have so many really amazing talents down here. But most of them will never do what they want for a living (draw, animate ...) and will probably have a shitty job they hate for the rest of their lives.

But, if my dream comes true and everything works out according to plan, in the future I'll open and be responsible for operating some sort of graphic school here. This is my destiny!

I’m curious then: are you promoting your work more in South American markets or internationally?
I live in São Paulo – the third largest city in the world. Here is the place for new professionals to break-through. All the big agencies and publishers are here! So just to physically be in a city where you fit in professionally is a great start (this gives you self-promotion already).

In addition, besides my website where I try and keep my portfolio as updated as possible, plus the de la burns blog, I put my work on Facebook and try (struggle) to use Twitter with update notes and good references. I believe it's crucial for a up-and-coming professional to use all means of social media possible - since it's a dog-eat-dog world and no one is going to do your marketing for you!

Still, looking at your question, I also know that I'm a relatively new professional (3 years now)! I’m still trying to establish myself as a valuable artist here in Brazil - but I definitely want to bring my work overseas! I visited Europe for the first time in June and July of this year, where I arranged some meetings with possible clients and artists who work I enjoy. It was a great experience!

Beside that I try to keep contact with artists from all over the world (especially animators) like California, NY, Toronto, London, Paris. It's such an immense joy for me to have the opportunity to talk to another professional. And it’s a great group, as it seems that they're all willing to talk art and help out in any way they can.

So what’s next then for Bernardo França, the architect-turned-illustrator that likes to fall in love each and every day?
Clearly, I want to make a living with my personal work. I know I have a very long road to travel where I need to continue drawing – incessantly! – and also keep researching and executing as much as I can!

I am indeed aiming to become a well-know resource in any area where music and illustration meet! Or maybe even become really as an artist well-known for his women ... but not in a womaniser way!


Bernardo França is an illustrator with a unique flair, his work being often understated but certainly not underrated! Originally from Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, he currently resides in the bustling Metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil.

They say you can learn a lot about a person from their taste in music, and if you happen to check a very limited list of Bernardo’s favourite albums of all time, you’ll see artists such as The Beastie Boys, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bob Marley, Cypress Hill, House of Pain as well as a host of great Brazilian acts. What that then truly says about Bernardo, we’re not entirely sure, so we’ll just go with eclectic and very open-minded!

His passion for his art, the world in which he lives and all things beautiful in their own unique way – as interpreted through the eyes, the ears, the touch and more – is very evident in all of his illustrations! It’s a joy to follow him via social media as he always has AT LEAST a fun teaser sketch to share or perhaps even a simply coloured yet exquisitely lined illustration to propose! A rising talent from a wonderful area of the world that will no doubt have many years of great success to come!

Please check out more about Bernardo at these links and social media connections!




All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Bernardo França, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. In all cases, we invite you to visit the artist’s site(s) for more, including the links provided above.