Browsing Tag



Diogo Freitas, illustrator

August 13, 2014

I met Diogo Freitas recently on a night out in London- we are both Portuguese and we have mutual friends. As I’m interested in illustration I immediately reacted like a little meerkat when he mentioned that’s what he was doing. We exchanged contact details and agreed to do a short interview for Hello The Mushroom, so here it is. I love Diogo’s collages, they are very surrealist and the Portuguese references on some of the work makes it especially dear to my heart. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

What made you want to change your career from design to illustration?

First of all, I’m not sure if I can refer to myself as someone who aimed for a career in graphic design in the first place. Choosing graphic design as a potential professional occupation, though, was a conscious decision at the time I started the BA in Visual Design in Lisbon as I was sure about my need to communicate through images since I was a child. Still, as time passed by – and due to professional experience in the field – I soon realised that from a market point of view, the design process fails to neglect the sense of authorship of the designers themselves and they end up becoming technicians of a much wider universe that they cannot control through their work.

I’ve never expected to be an exceptional graphic designer either because I’ve always been aware that you can’t be among the best if you don’t believe you’re actually one of the best and so I also knew that at some point I’d have to give a nudge to my career in order to have a voice through the images I produce. In that sense, illustration offers me the chance of digging into a much deeper sense of opinion and personality and I still get the chance to communicate through someone else’s words, making the years of graphic design that I have behind my back an important source of experience and accuracy when it comes to finding a bridge between creativity and objectivity.

What is your main source of inspiration?

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of how objects’ significations can change based on the era and the context they originally belong to. It’s funny to realise how Kubrick’s interpretation of the year 2001 is even more futuristic than the reality we faced about 13 years ago or how Frank Lloyd Wright imagined Broadacre as an apotheosis of the modern city…

I feel like my most basic creative instincts are based on self-appropriation of pre-existing images and the will to attribute them a new conceptual context by crossing elements from different sources and creating an interaction between them. A shampoo ad from the 50’s is as much of a mockery target today as reality tv will be in the future. This is a process of semiotic readaptation in itself – almost like natural selection, in a sense.

Anyway, I like my work to be self-explanatory in order for it to be as concise as possible and avoid parallel interpretations. In that sense, I guess I’m still ‘designing’ in a way. I don’t consider myself as being an artist.

What would be your dream job in illustration?

Do as much CD/Vinyl covers as I can (do you hear me Sufjan Stevens?) and illustrate an Alain de Botton’s feature in a magazine. He’s the ultimate genius.

How long have you been in the UK for and what do you miss the most about Portugal?

It’s been 2 years and a half now. I miss my family and some of my best friends I left behind but I most definitely miss the fact that Portugal is a country where everything is much more reachable. If living in Lisbon, you can get to the beach in about 20 minutes and the sudden change of scenario can be quite inspiring and stimulating, especially for someone like me who needs some battery recharging and thinking gaps from time to time. I guess that coming from a small island plays a major part in that process – the idea of being isolated has never scared me. In fact, being away from London is therapeutic in a way and every time I get back I feel like a new range of possibilities are ahead of me.

What’s your favourite place in London?

This is such a difficult and unfair question…! But well, if I really need to be honest then Columbia Road (E2 7RG) is the answer. For too many whys, whats and whens.

What is the advice you’d give to anyone wanting to change their career into illustration?

First of all, never doubt of your potential. There will always be someone better than you but there will also be someone who’s potentially much worse. The more you read, discover and contact with other fellow illustrators, the more you get conscious about the industry and how can you fit in whether through your style or approach. Everyone has something that defines themselves – it’s just a matter of being available for some self-analysis.

 Find out more of Diogo Freita’s work on his website here.

Jesse Dart – Photographer

July 16, 2014

Jesse Dart is a fellow travel enthusiast and a keen photographer. He is originally from the US but he currently lives in London with his wife. In the meantime, he as travelled and lived and several different countries and always takes his camera along the way. As soon as I saw his photos I knew I had to do a little feature on the blog and share his beautiful images with my blogger friends. I was drawn mainly to the beautiful texture on the landscape and architecture photos, that can only be achieved by shooting film. Thank you Jesse for sharing your adventures with us and agreeing to this interview!

What has been the favourite place you’ve ever been to?

A hard question to answer for sure, but probably most recently the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia which is really one of the most relaxed and completly Mediterranean places I’ve been to. Apart from there, Tasmania is so remote, so peaceful and tranquil and has some of the most beautiful and empty beaches I’ve ever seen. Not to mention amazing seafood and wine.

What is your dream destination that you would like to photograph?

I’ve been dreaming about Bali for awhile, and Southeast Asia. I’m fascinated by the colors, the contrasts, the light. I think it’s a part of the world that is still exotic and mystical.

Why do you prefer film over digital?

I learned on film from the very beginning, and after a brief stint into digital, I decided to go back to the beginning. What I like about film, apart from the obvious texture you get, the grain and resolution is the fact that it is still mysterious. Even if you’re the best photographer in the world when you shoot on film, you still don’t know exactly what each image will look like. Digital has taken this away from us and in the process a piece of the artistic aspect, I feel. For me, film is the medium that I connect with, that I feel not only represents who I am, but where I believe I can capture the image, feeling and emotion that I want.

I see you have a variety of themes on your portfolio, what’s your favourite subject?

I think of myself in someways as a reportage type of photographer, and try to focus on those types of subjects. I also like portraits, but in an informal setting, not in a studio. Travel also takes up a lot of my portfolio, and I’m constantly inspired by meeting and seeing new people, cultures and locations. I’ve tried my hand a a few different subjects like food, but I’ve found that I keep coming back to people, travel and architecture.

If you could pick a favourite place in London, what would it be?

I used to work near to the Leighton House Museum and in the summer months they have an amazing garden behind the house which is open and free to enter. I used to eat lunch there, and it was quiet, peaceful and usually empty. Full of huge trees, flowers, herbs and plants it is one of the best places in central London for a respite from the crowds, noise and urban landscape. Apart from that, I really like that London has so much green space, I’m constantly drawn to the parks all over town.

You can find more of Jesse Dart’s work here.


Panini Cheapskates – a case study in blogging and social media

July 1, 2014
Panini Cheapskates

“With apologies to Frank in particular, and to art in general.”

Some of you may have already heard about Panini Cheapskates, a very funny blog started by a couple of friends, Alex and Sian (or a friendly couple, or couple friend, you get what I mean). When I say you may, I’m not exaggerating – they’ve been featured in the online edition of the Guardian more than once, the BBC, as well as in several online publications around the world, from Iran to Mexico.

I’ve been watching this all unfold on Alex’s Facebook page and it’s been quite an interesting thing to see, especially if you’re in the social media and blogging business. So, what’s Panini Cheapskates all about? Alex collected World Cup Panini stickers when he was a kid in 1994, but didn’t manage to finish the album. It costs money, you see? So move forward to 2014, it’s still expensive, so why not draw them? What a great idea, with hilarious results. You can read it in more detail here.

Panini Cheapskates

What makes this interesting, besides being funny as hell? This blog was started on the 12th of June… and has amassed to the present day over 61,000 hits! In around a fortnight…now that’s an accomplishment! I was curious to know how they’ve done it, so I asked Alex:

“On the first day, the Guardian were running a live blog building up to the first game of the World Cup. So I emailed them, telling them what we were doing, they liked it and put a link to it in their live blog. Within a couple of hours we had 1000-2000 hits. I started the Twitter feed at the same time so I could constantly update with pictures more often than the blog (which I updated one to three times a day at the beginning, just once a day now). I kept Googling our twitter handle and the blog URL to find instances of people sharing it around the web, and if possible tried to give thanks wherever appropriate. Whenever we get a new follower, I try and tweet them with a “Hello” and a picture too. They tend to RT that, which in turn brings in more followers I guess. I’d never used Twitter till this month, it’s been a crash course!”.

A crash course that clearly worked! What lessons can other bloggers take from this? Panini Cheapskates is a great example how a great idea, combined with a good sense of opportunity can really take off and become viral.

I don’t know if there are any plans to carry on doing it in 4 years, but for now and while the current World Cup lasts, follow them on the blog or on Twitter.



June 25, 2014


There’s something that’s been on my mind lately. It’s about honesty, as a person and as an artist. I feel like I am not able to be entirely honest, for fear of criticism, misunderstanding, fitting in a certain definition of blogger, you name it.

It can be a little bit frustrating, as you may well imagine. I am interested in experimenting with self image, it’s part of my creativity (I’ve mentioned this before). These days I am feeling more adventurous. Possibly because I got tired of playing “safe” all the time, maybe because I’m getting tired of doing the same old thing and as I’ve said before, I want/need change. I need to experiment more and be more creative. I don’t want to carry on feeling stale. I like modifying my image by exploring the way I dress, but I would like to go beyond that. Not as far as Orlan, who constantly changed her appearance through cosmetic surgery, but at least look into different facets of my psyche by creating different looks using makeup, accessories, you name it.

Here are some weird ass photos I did, using some items I had lying around the house. I will probably be making more of this type of thing in the future. I hope that at least some of my regular readers will like this. You can’t always please everyone so I thought I might as well just please myself! It’s a challenge, and it would be great to embark on it with all you guys!




Gems – (similar) Party Eyes, Lipstick from the Kate Moss collection for Rimmel, Black Smokey eye crayon from the Body Shop, Blusher from H&M


Joseph Ari Aloi AKA JK5 – a book review

May 8, 2014







A week ago I marched down (or “trained” as I didn’t really go on foot and took the train, badum tisshhhhh) to London to meet up with Joseph Ari Aloi, the artist I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, and attend his book signing at the opening of Seven Doors Tattoo, on Fashion Street. I wanted to get some nice photos of the event but it was so crowded I didn’t even take my camera out. I have committed everything to my memory though, and I am so glad I didn’t miss this event.

Meeting Joseph has been an interesting experience in itself – you see, he is a very creative and complex person and his creative energy is extremely contagious. I don’t think anyone can remain indifferent to his character and intense personality, I know I haven’t. After I read the book it all made even more sense and I saw, by reading all the essays by other people, that I’m not the only one. Joseph is the kind of person with such a good and intense vibe that you can’t help but feel it. This time I didn’t get the chance to have a tattoo done by Joseph but it’s on my list of things I want to do in the future (maybe the next time I’m in NYC?). More importantly, I have gained a friend and those can be hard to come by.

The pages on his notebooks are a reflection of what goes on in his mind, always imaginative, always searching. The visual and verbal puns are extremely funny and clever – the ever present Star Wars references and the Hello Kitty ones especially made me chuckle. There are so many layers to Joseph’s work that you can stare at these pages for hours, go back and still find something new, some new meaning, a tiny hidden character or symbol. His spirituality, ideas, pain and happiness are all there, in an honest and overwhelming visual torrent, that is impossible to absorb in its entirety. His visual language is full of references, pop culture, logos, spirituality, toys, Star Wars, sex, symbols and rune-like pictograms. Some can be hard to decipher or understand the meaning of but that doesn’t take away from how visually stimulating it all is.

The book is a beautiful edition by Rizzoli, 240 pages of pure visual delight, a monograph of Joseph’s life and work over the last 12 years with a few pages of the previous years. You can find it on Amazon and selected bookstores everywhere – get it, you won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.

If you would like to know some more of Joseph’s work head on to: Tumblr blog and website.