Ghost StoriesAna Varela is a talented graphic artist and illustrator based in Portugal. Her intricately detailed designs vividly reimagine the narratives of traditional folklore, creating elaborate new fantasy worlds with unique stories of their own. We asked Ana what influences her art, how she promotes herself and if she has any advice for other artists.
Why do you create?
As most artists I suppose, I create because I love to, and because I need to. I have always been quite restless, particularly as a child, head going twenty miles per hour, coming up with stories or mischief - drawing was, and still is, the best way to slow me down and get me to focus. And fun as hell, of course. It's what makes me the happiest.
Pictures of Jesus
What makes your art unique?
That's a tough one. All art is unique. Haven't found an artist yet whose voice wasn't very much their own, no matter how many "oh your works reminds me of" they've heard. I've been experimenting with a lot of different styles over the years, trying to keep making art through whatever life threw at me, and this new style is quite recent, so I'm not quite sure I know what makes my art unique as it stands now... Perhaps that's it - how much I've dabbled in different expressions, styles and mediums: my art is starting to show a bit of the comics, the painting, the concept art, the animation, and that's what makes it unique.
“The first time I ever saw art was in a church... so I take a lot of inspiration from religious imagery...”
Where do you get your inspiration?
The first time I ever saw art was in a church, and it stuck, so I take a lot of inspiration from religious imagery - especially Roman Catholic, which, living in Portugal, I get no shortage of.
Books and music rarely fail me, but I'm also lucky to be in a city where I can easily walk out the door and go to a museum, on the way, stumble into a monument, and walk past walls and walls of amazing graffiti, so there's no shortage of inspiration when artist block comes knocking.
What influences your work?
Narratives mainly. From epics, to song lyrics, popular sayings, or something someone told me that stuck with me. Sometimes life events. Other artists always, especially my friends - their perserverance, talent, patience and resilience has been a huge influence on me and what I do.
Achilles - Come Down
Where do you sell your art?
I'm hoping to start producing my own prints again, so I can get back into the local art markets as soon as pandemic conditions allow it. For now, I sell my art mainly as print on demand on RedBubble. There's also a book I illustrated and made the cover for, which will be coming out soon, and some older comic book editions I'm hoping to sell on my website, if I can get some copies from the publishers.
“I've always wanted to freelance full time, and would love for that to happen in the near future.”
How do you promote yourself and your work?
Social media (mainly Twitter and Instagram), word of mouth and local art markets have been my go to. Art markets and indie publishing fairs I've found to be the most effective and are always so much fun and so rewarding. The pandemic put a huge stop to that, so I turned to social media a bit more, but can't wait to get back out there with my little stand.
Game Design Concepts
What are your future ambitions?
I'm going to knock on wood three times for this one, as I've always wanted to freelance full time, and would love for that to happen in the near future. Illustrating more books and book covers, posters, editorial pieces and album covers are certainly on my bucket list.
“Be kind to yourself... remember to have fun and live life to the fullest outside the drawing board.”
Do you have any advice for other artists?
I'm never sure I'm in a position to advise anyone, and the best advise is often tailored, but in a very general, broad sense: be kind to yourself, be patient, remember to have fun and live life to the fullest outside the drawing board. At least that's what I would tell my workaholic younger self - love for your art and love for yourself should go hand in hand.
Many thanks to Ana Varela for answering our questions. You can see more of Ana's fantastic art and illustrations on her website and you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.