10 Questions featuring Alice Mena Barreto

10 Questions featuring Alice Mena Barreto

Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, I'm asking letterers and calligraphers I admire to share their thoughts on success, frustration, personal experiences, and more.

10 Q alice mena barreto portrait.jpg

What's your name and where can we find you?

Hi, my name is Alice Mena Barreto and I'm from Brazil. You can find out about my work at my IG account: @olhardealice (that translating into English is something like Alice’s point of view).

What's your lettering / calligraphy background?

I’ve always liked to draw things as a kid, so playing around with pencils and paper was always a fun thing to do. 

When I discovered was Lettering was, I immediately fell in love it, but more as an observer than an artist. So, in 2015, I tried to do my first piece, but it didn’t turned out the way I pictured it and I just gave up on the idea… One year later, I said to myself: “Wait! I’m not THAT bad at drawing! I can draw words! I just have to try a little harder…” And then, I realized that yes, I could draw letters but my composition skills needed improvements… So, one day, destiny gave me a little push. It was April 2017 and a Brazilian lettering artist Aline Albino (@byalinealbino) just launched an online challenge to make lettering pieces using photographs as backgrounds. I thought it was a nice way stay on track and motivated. To my surprise, it was much easier to place the words in the picture’s voids. They were already there, right? I didn’t have to stare at a blank empty paper... After that, I’ve just fallen in love with lettering! I took a lot of online courses with different amazing artists and I’ve been practicing as much as I can.

When was the last time you surprised yourself?

In April this year, on my friend's wedding. I hardly cry at those events, but the ceremony was so unique (all the couple’s friends shared their story about the bride and groom) that it was impossible not to be moved. I know that in the USA it is popular to give speeches at weddings, but that’s something unusual in Brazil. Telling them what they meant to me was really special! 

on the same day, I was really surprised to see one of my lettering pieces in the bem-casado’s table (it’s a traditional little cake, filled with dulce de leche that is very popular in Brazilian’s weddings). I gave this piece to my friends as a gift on the wedding shower and did not expect to see it there at the party.

What is your greatest frustration in the creative process?

It’s pretty much frustrating when you picture something in your head (and it looks great), but, when you put your idea on paper, it doesn’t have the same effect… When that happens, I usually start from scratch.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Since I am just starting, I think that learning a new skill, trying to get better every day and staying motivated are my best achievement so far.

Who are your favorite artists? 

My favorite artists are:

- Lauren Hom @homsweethom, our flour queen: Her colors, textures, creativity, flourishings, letters… even her way of dress are so unique and beautiful!

- The Brazilian artist Tati Matsumoto @tatimatsumoto: she is such a sweet girl! I really like her clean letterings and her great shots.

- Ora Siripin @oraarts: beautiful black and white pieces, with lots of hatches and different letter styles.

- The Brazilian artist Nath Araujo @nanaths: she makes great watercolors, gouache and markers pieces, most of them about girls.

- Maggie Enterrios @littlepatterns: I love her crowded floral patterns and her customized leather jackets!

What is your motto?

Don't think about it! Just do it! 

When you overthink something and you waste time just in the sphere of ideas, you won’t be able to make it happen, that’s my opinion. The first reason is that you get more self-critical and that’s always bad! The second reason is that you get tired before even staring your project. And the third reason is a crazy thing! I had an Architecture teacher that used to say that inspiration is just like a muse trying to get things done in our world. So, if you don’t do it right away, he/she is going to “visit” another person with the same idea… That’s why, sometimes, you have a great project in your head and suddenly you forget about it or you realize that someone else just made it happen.

If you weren't a letterer/calligrapher, what would you be and why?

I'm actually graduated in Civil Engineer and Architecture and professionally, that’s what I do right now. The reason that I’ve chosen this area is that I really like to work in the project of a building. Also, everything related to sustainable constructions interests me.

What's your ONE piece of advice to people starting out?

Don't be so hard on yourself, just try to do it and you will see improvements in each piece.

Anything you'd like to add: 

I’ve just launched my first personal project called Literal Letters from Brazil. I made this project in Passion to Paid class and I am really excited to share it with you. It is a series of pieces about Brazilian idioms translated word for word into English. Also, all the colors are inspired by Brazilian birds, so, you can get to know more about my culture, Portuguese expressions and fauna. You can find them at: https://literal-letters.tumblr.com/ or on Instagram, under the hashtag #literalletters.

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