Margo Ferreira’s vulnerable and communicative practice
Grounded in emotion and energy, Margo hopes others can find comfort, reassurance and validation in her work as she does.
- Harry Bennett
- 30 April 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Currently undergoing a crisis of identity when it comes to her name, Portugal-based illustrator Mararida/Margo/Amargo Ferreira graduated last year in communication design at Arts Faculty Porto and is currently enrolled at Konstfack,Stockholm, studying her masters in visual communication. Despite being most naturally allured by illustration, Margo tells us “I had a great time playing around with graphic design, book production, video and photography,” a disciplinary sensibility we can see across her work.
Intimately entrenched in personal experience, Margo defines her practice "as extremely self indulgent,” justifying herself by saying that “most things I do are about me trying to cope and process my own experiences, feelings, and the way I interact with what surrounds me.” Therapeutically forcing herself to find the “silver-lining or the happy ending” the illustrator successfully “translates these fleeting sensations and messy thoughts into drawings or little narratives.” If she cannot find a silver-lining, Margo is happily satisfied with finding “at least a fun punchline."
In other instances Margo also likes “to play with my ideas and stories in a way that they feel a bit translucent,” she tells us, “like a window into my thoughts, but one that is not too clear, so the viewer can also see their own reflection in it.” In this respect, her work is generous and welcoming. It's gentle beauty doesn’t ask for or promise anything, but simply offers a charming and honest mood through kind mark-making and authentic characters. Showing a more vulnerable side, she also explains that “I’m just really seeking validation and reassurance from other people who might relate to what I’m trying to communicate.”
Looking towards her influences, Margo ponders that “maybe in another life I would have been part of an indie rock band or something,” with an avid interest in music and story-telling. “My interests tend to fluctuate a bit,” currently into “learning more about psychology and the human brain.” Poetically, Margo tells us that “a lot of inspiration ends up coming from the rush I feel by soaking in lots of beauty all at once,” a sensation felt after activities like listening to music, long walks or “being surrounded by nature, preferably with friends.” With a feeling that is immediately recognisable in the work she produces, Margo describes feeling an energy fill her chest when overcome by these emotions.
When lacking in inspiration however it's Vimeo that is Margo’s comfort:“I love animation so much, and it makes me feel such a rush to go and make stuff, I usually watch whatever is being recommended on my feed.” Returning to her roots, this is an inspiration lingering from her childhood obsession with “cartoons and anime,” which initially got Margo into drawing.
The signature concept across the illustrator's work is one which “orbits around the topic of human relationships,” she explains, in doing so expressing “very humane, common feelings such loneliness, longing, self doubt, wonder and love,” to name a few. This theme goes hand in hand with the expression of movement felt in Margo’s illustrations, pointing out how “I’m inspired by movement and by things that dance a little bit.” Using the example of the “wavy” elements of her work being referential to Margo “thinking about leaves blowing in the wind or light reflecting in the water.” More playfully, recurring features also seem to be “big pants, flowy hair, and silly dancing poses,” translating the joyful, simple pleasures found in normal life.
A recent project of Margo's is a short zine she made and published on Instagram, Kerning/tracking, made when reflecting on the polarising nature of internet debates, “and how the comments sections on facebook or twitter are often so filled with hatred.” Finding an interest in the anonymity of internet trolling, as well as the lack of tone of voice innate to messaging, Margo considered “nonverbal cues and nonverbal ways of communication, that often guide us when talking to one another face to face.” Kerning/tracking therefore acts as a “visual catalogue of different types of nonverbal means of communication,” drawing iconographic visual and physical cues amongst written text, telling a narrative of its own. Utilising medium, method, image and text, Margo concludes, “it feels great when all these little factors come together to tell the story you want to tell,” explaining that the title is a “poetic take” on what kerning and tracking really means.
Margo aims to expand on some of the ideas found in her Kerning/tracking zine, most likely re-contextualising the project to be about “communication in current times.” Hoping to look further into “tools that might help dialogue occur more easily,” she's also aware (and critical) of the “power imbalances, social and cultural factors that are obstacles to a fully empathetic kind of communication.” Yet, what she has found is that “communication is a lot about looking outwards and inwards at the same time, constantly deconstructing yourself and asking 'what is keeping myself from being open to this idea’…or something like that.”
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. Feel free to get in contact with Harry about new and upcoming creative projects.