Rita Matos — Interview
Interview with designer Rita Matos, Lisbon.
Dennis Moya: Hello Rita how are you?
Rita Matos: Hi, I’m great. I’m on a small vacation. Everything feels better on vacation.
DM: Can you introduce yourself?
RM: I am a Portuguese graphic designer born in Lisbon. I grew up and still live in the city’s suburbs. I’ve studied in Lisbon’s Faculty of Fine Arts, where I graduated in Communication Design. Soon after that I’ve started an internship at a graphic design studio called Silvadesigners, where I still work. I’m also working as a freelancer, having a particular boom of exciting side projects this year, like my collaboration with XXIII and BORSHCH magazine.
DM: Where does your interest in graphic design come from?
RM: As a kid I was always having weird ideas, drawing, writing, painting, and that stuck with me. I didn’t grow up at any sort of artistic/creative environment, so I did a lot of researching and discovery by myself. I always liked that too. I read a lot, and as the Internet started making part of our lives, I used it to share the things I drew and wrote, and learn from the things I saw. But I didn’t know what graphic design was until I was already in design school. I thought, by the description that it was something that would allow me to do most of the things I liked. Not just paint, or just draw, or just write. Guess it turned out right.
DM: Can you tell us more about your collaboration with the crew XXIII?
RM: XXIII is opening a space for different sounds to occupy Portuguese subculture, specially focusing on the future beats scene. It does it by organising parties at the crew’s hometown — Porto— joining national and international DJs. It also functions as a platform for emerging producers and artists.
I met the founders of XXIII (Kika and Tiago) in Barcelona, but we’re all Portuguese kids. One year after, they invited me to be part of the project. I’m passionate about music and working within the area is something that I always wanted to do more. I related to the project and I got excited with the idea, so I went along. Right now, I’m doing the graphic identities for the parties. I wanted to bring a bold and singular graphic language to XXIII. I also wanted a more cohesive feel in the communication. So far, I think this is going pretty well and I like the results. We share and talk about ideas and it becomes easier to execute your vision when you work with likeminded people that respect your work and that want it to be as great as you do.
DM: Your projects have strong typographic designs. Where does it come from?
RM: I’m really obsessed with written content and the dynamic relationship between it and the way we, graphic designers, use it and display it for something to communicate in a specific tone. I guess this comes from an inherent editorial approach. I believe words are powerful and can engage with people in a special emotional way, for being so ‘direct’. I’m also interested in the study of language, the concept of translation and meaning in itself. I think all these influence me to explore these solutions more. As for the style part, I’m influenced by the use of typography in certain movements like modernism, the Swiss school, Dutch graphic design… and I like to mix those with a more experimental side. I think there’s a lot of people doing interesting mixtures and even using typography to make objects that cross the lines between design and art, and that’s also inspiring.
DM: How do you feel about the current design scene in Lisbon?
RM: I have this weird sensation that there isn’t a “scene”. I think it’s very fragmented. There are some really great studios and designers working here but in a way, everyone’s doing different things and there isn’t a distinct “identity” that you would associate with the city. It also seems like the designers’ work doesn’t have a presence in the city streets and it’s rare to see something that stands out. I think this also reflects in our relationship with local clients. It feels that sometimes you can’t risk more because they’re not used to see some particular kind of language and are not comfortable with it, which is a vicious cycle. I also have this sensation that there hasn’t been a lot of design related initiatives where we could meet, socialise, create a sense of community. But this can all be a generational thing or even just a very personal view. Our sense of reality has a lot to do with our own circuits, and in my case, a lot of my colleagues and designers I talk to are working out of the country.