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Chalking with Roberta Barros by Zara Martina

(Interview done in 2016 and published in 4/27/2016 at Zara Martina Blog)

Today is all about chalking with Roberta Barros. Chalk Artist Roberta is sharing her story with us and how she never stops learning. Here she is in her own words..

Can you introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from, where are you based now? Do you work from home or have a studio?

Hello! My name is Roberta Barros, I’m Brazilian and became an American citizen 5 years ago. I’m living in São Paulo, my hometown, with my family for the last 4 years after relocating from USA and Mexico.

We have lived happily and had two beautiful daughters during our 14 years abroad but we really wanted to be around family again then we went back to Brazil and have stayed there for the last 5 years. (By the time you read this I’ll probably be back in USA, Miami, moving in March) lol. I know! Kids are growing…our oldest going to college in 2017…life changes, priorities change…

Well…I work from home, I have a nice little corner with all my materials and stuff. It’s my sanctuary, my therapy escape! Love it! But the last part of my work is done at the client’s place. I’ll explain that!I have started a business of chalkboard art and sign illustration called ‘Let’s Chalk’.

Have you always been creative? Are you from a creative family?

Well…YES! I remember times when I used to take coloring books and paper doll magazines to restaurants, crafts classes after school, painting wooden boxes (and everything else!) at home, sewing and knitting with grandma. I had a little chalkboard too for teaching my dolls and stuffed animals. I wanted to be a teacher!

My Father is from a musical family. Grandma was a pianist and teacher and all of her six siblings were musicians too, playing different instruments though. Dad used to play piano and accordion at a younger age but just for fun.

I remember when Mom used to sew “Mom and Daughter alike” dresses for us, fixing clothes and knitting on winters. I have learned to sew and knit a little with Grandma but my passion has always been for papers and pencils and all sorts of art materials after that.

When did you first start creating? What formal education do you have related to art & design?

I remember the feeling of those days right before school year starts when I could choose to buy all of my materials. What a blast! Colored pencils, paint, those white crisp notebooks…omg! Decorating the first page of them was the best homework ever!

Then in elementary school (it was a catholic school) I had this amazing teacher! She was just the perfect art teacher! We used to have lettering lessons in our own art notebook. So sad I didn’t save them. But she was the best at doing all of that “magic” on the chalkboard and leaving the class mesmerized. But I wanted to be a teacher!

Well….since those days I have graduated as Elementary Teacher with a major in preschool in São Paulo, Brazil. At 16 years old, I happily started to work as a teacher assistant and never stopped! I was that girl who was called for all of the posters, signs and written things at the school, to prepare crafts and give ideas for occasions and parties. But then, right after High School days, I fell in love for Design when visiting FAAP (a nice private College in Sao Paulo) with a friend.

Long story short, I have a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts/ Industrial Design too, I’m a Product Designer and have done many other courses lifelong… acrylics, watercolor, drawing, faux finish, furniture finish…you name it! I have always worked teaching kids or adults and as an artist as well, doing murals or faux finish or selling my crafts. Even living in three different countries I’ve always reinvented myself, crafting, working and taking new classes.

When did you recognize that you would pursue lettering?

I never really enjoyed writing that much. I had really hard times when writing essays. My thing was drawing, but lettering is drawing letters!

5 years ago, back to São Paulo, I took a craft class of cardboard boxes and started to pay attention to fabrics, their patterns and decided to study Surface Design because I wanted to design them!

Meanwhile I started to look for online classes because I knew that there was a huge Surface Design market abroad and it was just “crawling” around here. I started to watch tutorials and practicing a little more… and lettering was a longtime passion hidden somewhere inside me since those young years… I love to study and I’m pretty much self-taught in many abilities including Adobe software.

Then I discovered Skillshare, Creative Live and have enrolled in MATS Bootcamp and ABSPD1 and 2. Pushing hard! I enjoyed studying and making all of the exercises, and Skillshare had some lessons completely focused in lettering. I loved it!! “I want to do this! I want to create beautiful lettering and pursue a career creating stuff like that!”, I thought.”

Which classes on Skillshare did you take and how have they helped you in your current business?

After MATS Bootcamp and ABSPD1 and 2, I wanted to continue to study lettering and found out that Skillshare had the most amazing team of instructors and professionals in this field. I upgraded my month-to-month membership to annual and started to watch everything I could! I started with the pattern design classes and mixed them with lettering and illustration.

The ones I loved are Bonnie Christine’s Surface Design class, Elizabeth Olwen Pattern Design classes, lettering classes with Jessica Hische, Mary Kate McDevitt with her vintage style, Teela Cunningham … many more to count, and then Lauren Hom with her chalkboard amazing techniques.

Some of them I have just watched, some I have posted my lessons, some I have only practiced in my sketchbook…but little by little I was feeling my new passion starting to flow and grow into something I could pursue and do for living!

How did you enjoy this way of learning online as opposed to the traditional way?

After moving so many times, with kids and all of the family things to take care, I found out that taking online classes and tutorials was the best way of learning!

I could take the classes at night when the house was quiet or my husband was traveling, or at any little spare time I had during the day taking my own pace, pausing, repeating. I have saved time and money and just focused on classes and exercises that I though it could really improve my skills. I love Skillshare!

I have learned a lot practicing with their tutorials and even bought some of the instructor’s books.

Art, lettering and doodle books I need to have in paper format, feel the smell, browse and research many times, taking notes, drawing…

What did you enjoy most about the classes?

Even though I didn’t publish too many of my work I have really enjoyed seen other student’s participation, all of the Q&A feedbacks and as I said before taking my own time and pace was the master benefit.

The possibilities are endless! I have printed materials for practicing, I could come back anytime to review and study a little more and the best of it is that I’m always connected with new trends, classes and tips from amazing people.

Can you share a project from your class with us and walk us through your workflow from start to finish? Perhaps you have produced a product at the end you can also share with us?

My new business has brought me so much happiness and satisfaction. I’m really amazed how it evolved into such a nice and big thing that happened in my life in so little time.

The chalkboards I’ve been producing, from personalized design concept to final execution at the client’s place, seeing the birthday kid’s eyes (or the adults eyes!) glowing with satisfaction with the results bring me tremendous and priceless joy and pride.

I will share one them with you. I hand draw all of the personalized art for the client with the info provided. In this case it was this little girl, Olivia’s birthday party. The theme was “Chef” and her mom has written to me her favorites of everything including sports team, food, hobbies, etc.

When the art was approved she rented three chalkboard panels for the party and I went on the day of the event to create the cake table’s background for her.

Do you have a project that you’re particularly proud of?

Yes! This is a framed chalkboard that I’m really proud of. It didn’t have the best lettering at the time (now I know!) but the whole process was important and made me grow.

I received the framed chalkboard from the client and I created a recipe to feature in an Italian kitchen’s store. Then I found the recipe, created the lettering and design until the final execution. At the end I was invited for the open house party and have received many compliments for it.

With your new skills in lettering, where do you see yourself in the future? Are you looking to build a business around it or will it be a part of something bigger?

Well…I’ll take my business to USA as soon as I move, I’ll try to adapt my artwork to the market and I have many plans for the future. I’m pretty open for new opportunities and to reinvent my art.

As I usually say “my artwork turns into dust” and that’s why I’m thinking of producing illustrations or decor, creating online tutorials or even to write a book for the children market as I love the lil’ ones!

What tools can’t you live without?

I keep a little pencil case with my favorite pens, mechanical pencil and eraser in my purse for any spare time I have!

My favorite markers for doodling and tracing are Prismacolor Premier fine line, Koi watercolor paint and brush pens and a Staedtler Mars mechanical eraser for my sketches.

For my artwork I use regular Crayola chalk in white and colors and I’m getting obsessed with my new acquisition that is an Allary mechanical chalk for details.

The lettering books I really recommend are:

“The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering” by Valerie McKeehan, fantastic chalk artist “The little book of lettering” by Emily Gregory for amazing reference “Hand Lettering Ledger” by Mary Kate McDevitt who has a vintage style I simply adore For study and practice and my latest acquisition, “In Progress” from Jessica Hische (fantastic book!)

I’m a big fan of Pinterest, where I usually create “mood board folders” as inspiration for my projects and of Instagram (very addicted!).

Where can we find you?

Fantastic! I loved doing this interview with Roberta, her personality really shines through her work. Please follow Roberta’s social media links above and keep up-to-date on what she’s up to.

See here the link for the original interview:

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