Portuguese illustrator Mariana Pita is trying to remember her own personal moment of creative revelation, but she’s drawing a blank. “I can’t tell when or if such thing happened, I don’t remember,” she says. “The only thing I remember is being asked as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up and my answer was that I wanted to draw. I didn’t know what that meant, who I would be drawing for or what should I draw, but those were questions for later in life.”
Working across comics, one-offs, gig posters, music videos, and other projects that show off her unique take on a disruptive kind of dreaminess has got us hooked, and we’re more than glad that drawing has guided her hand and her life to date.
A University of Fine Arts of Porto graduate — who divides her focus between soft-focus illustration work and animated documentary projects about prehistoric plants called When the Grains of Sand Were the size of Oranges — Mariana moved to London after her studies, but despite occasionally missing “weekly D&D sessions at a random pub or the free philosophy lectures with free tea and biscuits,” she found herself back in Portugal, where she founded Lixo Feliz, an in-house animation studio that fosters a sense of openness and inclusivity.
“People would always say to me that animation takes too much time,” Mariana states. “What I’ve been discovering lately is that it’s not really like that, there are so many ways to do animation, and part of the fun is to try to figure out new ways to do animation effectively without sacrificing the art.”
A watch of the videos she’s animated and directed for her own music project, Moxila, are prime examples of her cute ’n’ scratchy approach to things. Flirting with the naive, they’re charmingly kinetic vignettes which display an intriguingly developed sense of the deeply odd.
Oddity, it seems, is important to Mariana. You can see that in the assorted collection of jellied goblins, dog-eared dogs, and guitar-toting humanoid cats that make up what we think of as the Pita-sphere. The artist herself is happy to confirm that she agrees her work is a celebration of all things odd and unusual.
“When you say “celebrate” I imagine carnivals and theme parks dedicated to oddity, that would be fun," says the illustrator and animator. "More art too, although odd art is easier to find, most of it is not very celebratory. We should celebrate oddity through art and festivities, like a cult. I consider that most religions do celebrate the odd through miracles and mythical creatures, but I say: Let’s skip the symbols and go straight to the abstract. Then we could have more cults based on other abstract concepts, like love and beauty or the unknown.”
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