ON SAO PAULO: PAOLA SALIBY
Some of our favorite stories are about those who started down a certain career path only to realize that it's not for them. And then they have the clarity - and the guts - to embrace what they really should be doing. WNW Member #4745 Paola Saliby experienced such a crossroads, starting as a fashion designer before becoming an illustrator. The complicated and beautiful city of São Paulo is her home of choice with the burgeoning artist community integral to her growth as an independent creative.
Paola previously shared her "creative brain" with us; now she takes us through the streets of São Paulo, making us hungry for pastel and sugar cane juice. And WNW Member #6106 Leonardo Sang brings Brazil (and Paola's writing) to life through his vivid photography.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background.
I graduated in fashion design, and it was during my time at college that I fell in love with drawing and illustration. I’d been working as a fashion designer for a major Brazilian brand, but I was unhappy. At the same time, I started taking a drawing course and became more and more involved with it, until one day I decided to drop my career in fashion and pursue illustration. Things were very difficult at first, but I worked hard and now I know this was the best thing I ever did in my life.
What are you currently working on? Any dream projects?
I've been illustrating for three years in publishing and advertising. I also work on my personal projects and create custom illustrations and portraits.
I’m currently working on a custom wedding invitation, creating some things for a kid’s room, and I’m also doing illustrations for a digital publication.
In terms of dream projects, my goal is to one day publish my own illustrated book and next year I’ll try to get a master’s degree scholarship in Europe or the US. I really want to expand my work worldwide!
What are you into these days, culturally? What are you reading, watching, etc?
I really enjoy cooking and I like watching cooking programs on the Internet or on a Brazilian TV channel called GNT. I follow the Brazilian chef Rita Lobo but I also love Jamie Oliver recipes very much.
I’m a big fan of TV series and my favorites at the moment are Downton Abbey, Better Call Saul, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones and House of Cards (not necessarily in that order.) My husband and I also love watching cartoons like Adventure Time and Gumball.
I also loved Lina Bo Bardi’s exhibition I saw at Sesc Pompéia. Lina was Italian but she also embraced Brazil and did incredible architecture projects like MASP. Lina was also a great illustrator and collaborated with many publications.
I’m currently reading (and loving) Haruki Murakami’s book Colorless TskuruTazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
Some websites and blogs I like and follow on the internet: It’s Nice That, Wrap Magazine Tumblr, Dazed, Present and Correct Blog, No Culture Icons, 50 Watts, Nowness, Freunde von Freunden, and Follow the Colours.
Why did you move to São Paulo?
I was born in a country city called Ribeirão Preto and I moved to São Paulo in 2007 to study Fashion Design.
After that, I never really thought about going back to my hometown for real or moving to another city because I believe if you're are a creative professional here in Brazil, things are better if you live in São Paulo. Here we have not only have more jobs opportunities, we also have a stronger design scene and community.
Of course Brazil has other great cities that are more beautiful and peaceful than São Paulo and with good opportunities for other people, but as an illustrator, I believe São Paulo is a better option.
What are your favorite things about living there? Biggest challenges?
What’s great about São Paulo is that finally the city is starting to progress in some cultural aspects. New events are popping up, like independent publications and small creative entrepreneur fairs, food parks and big art exhibitions.
Being a creative professional here is such a big challenge and I believe we still have to achieve much more space and respect, but it makes me happy that some things are beginning to work out for us. It’s great to see young, creative people come together in order to bring new things and improve the city culturally. It’s a great step!
The challenge is that São Paulo is a very expensive city, with very high rents and abusive taxes. Besides, it’s still a violent city because of all the social inequality. The truth is: If you’re not rich, life in São Paulo can be very hard.
What are some neighborhood spots you love?
I live in a neighborhood called Vila Pompéia and that’s my favorite here in São Paulo because it’s a very cozy place, with those little old houses inhabited by elderly people. It’s a place where you can find many street markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. You can stop and eat a pastel or drink sugar cane juice.
I really enjoy walking around here, finding myself in a small stationery store to buy something I don’t need or those little places that sell a bit of everything and those magical candy shops with all those candies I used to eat I when I was a kid...
To avoid São Paulo’s traffic, my husband and I usually go out to eat somewhere near our apartment and we really don’t care because here we can always find good options like the traditional restaurant. ‘Degas’, where we go to eat beef parmigiana, and ‘Santa Fé Cervejaria’ that serves this marvelous dish called cupim casqueirado na telha com mandioca (Crispy hump served on a tile with cooked cassava.)
We are not big fans of Brazilian pizza but we are very fond of this Neapolitan pizza restaurant called ‘Leggera’.
The ‘Água Branca’ Park is a nice place for a walk, read a book or buy organic products in the fair that takes place every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.
One of the best things about the neighborhood I live in is ‘Sesc Pompéia’. It’s a very nice place, where you can have a lunch for a fair price and there is always a lot of free activities, courses, big concerts and exhibitions.
What's the creative scene like?
Unfortunately we don’t have anything organized like Working Not Working here in São Paulo to help freelance illustrators and designers find jobs.
We do however have a thrilling creative scene. As I already mentioned, independent publications and fanzine events (like Feira Plana and Feira Tijuana) are growing and there are many young and creative people working on amazing projects.
One of the buildings they feature is ‘Farol'. The building is shared by four enterprises: the journalism studio Fluxo, an educational center focused on public art ‘Instituto Choque Cultural’, a design and art studio ‘Líquen’ and ‘Balsa’, a space for events, workshops, parties, etc. Together, the four enterprises collaborate to stimulate cultural production and the public and night life of downtown São Paulo.
Centro also tracks the action of ‘Voodoohop’, a party that celebrates art and music, playing a large part in the revival of the downtown creative scene.