Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born and raised in Portugal. I have always had an artistic background in my family, so eventually I chose to study Design and later developed an interest in Illustration – that's where I'm at right now.
What inspired the piece featured on the cover of Rituals?
My take on this illustration was based on the fact that most sacred rituals try to make a bridge with a primordial force – a sort of primitive origin that is connected to the animal/human dichotomy. There's also a link with the pack mindset, in the sense that rituals are commonly a shared experience that celebrates the feeling of belonging to a certain community/culture. I also really happen to like masks, so I went with them.
What is your process when creating art, and how did you learn this process?
I've studied Design and so I've grown used to working digitally, which also allows me to make the whole process an "open" experience, since there are no definitive actions and there's a lot of room for trying things out. I like to use and juxtapose different textures and more "digital" languages – I feel it adds depth and detail to the whole composition. I know many artists that work similarly, but overall I think I learned these techniques by myself, over trial and error.
Are there any artists you particularly admire?
I really like Matisse, Klimt and Egon Schiele. Other than that, in a more contemporary approach, I'm really drawn to Yoshitaka Amano, Jon Klassen and Malika Favre.
Your pieces - which can be found at http://fredericopompeu.com - are wonderfully unique. How would you describe your art style?
My work is greatly influenced by my mood, but I think that its main characteristics are the use of textures and clashing colors and shapes (with some exceptions).
I like to experiment and sometimes that compromises the consistency of my work... I think that I couldn't work in any other way, though – I wouldn't want to get too attached to a style or theme – it's more fun to try things around.
When/how did you first become interested in art?
There were artistic people on both sides of my family, my grandmother on my father's side was a painter, and my uncle on my mother's side is also an artist. I actually think that a lot of people in my family have that specific potential to be painters or sculptors, but for some reason or another, they ended up not developing to those abilities.
Growing up, my family kept being really supportive, so I have been really lucky to have this cultural background.
Were you formally trained in art?
I studied Design in Aveiro, a small town by the Portuguese coast. Even though I wasn't formally trained in illustration, the design approach gave me the tools to work in a project – and it also honed my drawing skills. The first time I illustrated a book, I actually worked through the whole process as if it was a design briefing. I only realized I was working as an illustrator when I saw my name on the cover.
In addition to illustration, you also engage in photography. Can you tell our readers a bit about that?
I do photography for fun. I'm into small details, weird coincidences and chromatic anomalies – that's why I like to use film and point-and-shoot cameras – the whole process is more spontaneous and unpredictable. Sometimes I do end up using my photos as the color palette of my illustrations.
Your work is widely published and you've excelled in the art world. What advice would you give to budding artists?
I like to think that I still have a long way to go - I've been lucky with the opportunities I've had so far and I try to work on my own stuff along with the commercial work I do. I've noticed that illustration can be really rough on you – one day you feel great about your work and the other day you're full of doubts about it. I think you have to accept this in order to grow – most of all, being a illustrator is a process, and in order to go further, you have to always question yourself.
Although you already have a Master's Degree in Design, you're also pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies. What is your goal with that area of study?
I've always been very interested in human/social sciences. Whether as a designer or an illustrator, you are always working for someone and you have to understand the zeitgeist in order to deliver. Studying the way cultural artifacts and symbols influence our lives is a great way of understanding the work I do professionally in a deeper way. I guess it also allows me to get a better perspective on me, personally, as well as to develop my storytelling abilities – I think all illustrations must tell a story.
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