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About Nathanna Érica

Nathanna Erica is an artist who works with paper art, illustration, and visual development. After five years of Law school, she decided to pursue her true passion: telling stories with her colorful artworks. It's known to be a blessing to love what you do, and Nathanna has found just that when she became an artist. She was granted the honor of designing the 2017 Official Christmas Stamp of Correios do Brasil, which is among philatelic collections all around the world. Being born in a diverse and complex country made her aware of cultural differences and the importance of their acknowledgment and appreciation, and these themes are frequently seen in her art. On social media, she has garnered a number of fans from top animation studios in the US and her works can be found in specialized magazines and children's books.

Interview with Nathanna Érica

Nathanna Érica ("N") interviewed on Thursday, 23 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

N : I’ve been working professionally as an artist/designer for almost four years and some of my recent clients have been HarperCollins Publishers, Blue Dream Studios, Storytime Magazine, Correios do Brasil and Globosat. Also recently (2017-2018), I graduated from Traditional and Digital 2D Animation at the Melies School of Cinema, 3D and Animation, in São Paulo, Brazil. Other than that, I’ve always been self-taught at art, which certainly made everything a bit more difficult but also incredibly rewarding.

How did you become a designer?

N : I have always loved to draw, ever since I was very little but it was about five years ago that I really started to consider a career as an artist. Initially, the big plan was to follow on my parents' footsteps and become a lawyer - I even graduated from Law school -, but after I had finished it, it dawned on me that Law wasn't my passion at all. I was born to be an artist. My family always encouraged me no matter what, so that made everything considerably easier.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

N : The three most invaluable aspects to me when working on a new project are (1) the design itself, an initial sketch to help me put on paper the idea that is floating on my mind; (2) the color palette I’ll be using for my design and (3) the artwork’s composition, which is the combination of the design and the colors. My central theme is trying to make all my designs visually appealing with strong vibrant colors. Technology helps me with the sketching process, but I usually start with a graphite sketch, so my reliance on it is only up to a point. Depending on the design, if it’s made with mixed media, technology is used to make the final adjustments and corrections on the artwork. If it’s a digital design, then it’s all made with software. My approach to a new project is often filled with excitement and anxiety haha!

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

N : At the beginning of the whole process, I feel a bit anxious because of the many challenges I have to deal with until the artwork is finished. The composition, the color palette, the art style, all these aspects need to be carefully thought of. Once things are well underway and there is at least a semblance of a design coming together (ha!), then I get to feel a bit more relaxed.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

N : I’ve always had a vivid imagination (or so my family says!) which I believe played a big part in my decision to ultimately become an artist. Also, I like to think that my background in Law is very useful when taking up a new job with a company, or any job, actually. Knowing one’s rights is essential and for someone who is still navigating these new waters, it can be a valuable asset. Of course, we don’t need to study Law to become a good artist, but in my case, this extra knowledge was and still is very important to me.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

N : The past five years have been unbelievable in terms of growth. I never attended any art school before I decided to pursue a career as an artist, so I had to learn so many things in so little time. I think social media helped me a lot during my growth path, specially because it connected me to people who were interested in what I was sharing. That is something which I’ll always be immensely grateful for.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

N : My biggest advice would be that they should listen to their hearts way sooner than I did! I always had that great inclination towards arts in general, but it took me five years of Law school to realize that I didn’t want to follow any legal career. I’m very grateful for all that I learned during those years and for the friends I made along the way, but I think it would have been nice to be preparing myself to be an artist for longer than I have.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

N : I still find it difficult to see myself as a successful, professional designer. I feel like I’ve only just begun, so I’d tell other designers what I tell myself: patience and dedication to your craft are essential. Find what you love doing the most, start by doing what your comfortable with and then try to expand it outside of your comfort zone. I started working only with paper at first, but as I’ve been exploring other techniques, I found that there really isn’t anything we can’t do if we just put our minds to it.

What is your day to day look like?

N : I usually start my business mornings going through my emails in order to organize my priorities. Lately, things have not been exactly boring, but whenever I feel like a task is somewhat a bit dull, I tune up my favorite playlist and get right to it! The biggest “little” thing that makes me happy is enjoying every step of the process of creating a new artwork and knowing that I’ll wake up the next day and get to keep working on it.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

N : I don’t really keep up with design trends. I have my personal style and I like to create artworks that reflect that. I love working with traditional media, most notably paper, and I’m also deeply influenced by the midcentury style of children’s books illustrations so one can easily see that the latest trends are not really my major source of inspiration (laughs). I’d stick with creating a collection that is purely my own, although I’m always open to new ideas.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

N : I believe that a well-designed project can be considered good or successful when it achieves its purpose. When it conveys the message that the designer intended to express. Each design has a different message to convey, so that is a very subjective question which I’m in no way qualified to answer!

How do you decide if your design is ready?

N : Oh, I always think there’s still one last touch to add when I’m near the completion of my design. For me, it’s so difficult to say when the design is completely done, but I guess we should stop at some point! I believe there will always be a way to improve it but we can’t keep working on a single project forever so after a reasonable amount of time dwelling on it, it’s better to move on. Sometimes I wish I had more time to fix some of my older designs and I’m tempted to improve them but it’s also nice to see the evolution as the years go by.

What is your biggest design work?

N : I’m really satisfied and proud of my design for the Christmas official stamp I designed for Correios do Brasil, which is Brazil’s main postal service. The challenges were more related to deadlines but other than that, I had complete freedom to explore the many possibilities of the theme I was given (the story of the Steadfast Tin Soldier) and so it was a very satisfying experience overall.

Who is your favourite designer?

N : I have several artists that I look up to. Even though their main field was Animation and Illustration, I really love the works of Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, J. P. Miller and Marc Davis. Also, Walt Disney’s nine old men are one of the greatest sources of inspiration to me and it would have been wonderful if I had had the chance to talk to them!

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

N : I was born in Brazil and my love of colors, different textures and patterns have certainly been determined by the fact I grew up in this diverse and challenging society. Music is definitely a big part of my creative process. I think that good design, just like art in general, is extremely necessary for a society’s development, especially in a country like mine. We have many problems to overcome, such as poverty, famine, corruption, and art is often seen as something superfluous, so I feel that winning an award such as this is incredibly important in order to promote the idea that only through education and culture can we bring relevant advancement to our society.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

N : As a freelance artist, I work alone most of the time. One of my biggest dreams is to work in an animation studio, where all the artists need to work together and teamwork is the most important aspect. I don’t know how “easy” I am to work with (ha!) but I suppose one of the challenges of growing up and being an artist is to put aside our egos for a moment and learn to be more empathetic towards one another.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

N : Last year I was contacted by Come Unity, which is an organization whose mission is to partner with East African communities to develop sustainable solutions to poverty in underdeveloped countries, and I was so happy to be asked to donate one of my artworks to help them raise money during their annual online auction. I find it extremely satisfying to know that being an artist gives us the chance of at least trying to bring a little more beauty and happiness to the world and to know that many fellow designers are deeply involved in such a worthy cause makes me incredibly proud. I’m still at the beginning of my professional life, but philanthropic work is something I care about as much as my work as a designer and I hope I have the opportunity to do both for as long as possible.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

N : I can think of many benefits of being a part of design awards and competitions, but mostly the fact that they give the designer the opportunity to share their work with others and touch people’s sensibilities, which - speaking for myself – makes it all worthwhile. All this has been so thrilling! I’m extremely happy to be Designer of the Day!

Nathanna Érica Profile

Tiny Little World Kids Illustration

Tiny Little World Kids Illustration design by Nathanna Érica

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