Interview by Visual Collaborative
July 2019 5 min read
Ana Martins better known as Aheneah, is a Portuguese artist and designer. Aheneah’s design background with her grandmother’s embroidery teachings produces multidisciplinary masterpieces as public installations. As a feature in our “Vivencias” interview series Ana discusses the digital and analog processes of her work and goal to deconstruct, decontextualize and transform traditional techniques into a modern graphic, connecting cultures and generations.
(VC) Outside all the amazing graphic work you do as an artist and designer, who is Ana Martins?
(Aheneah) Ana Martins is an energetic girl who keeps finding in her garden the key to be patient and enjoy the little things. Nowadays, she continues to form a Sunday club with her mother and grandmothers. Ana is also very very lucky to have an adorable fat bunny as her assistant!
(VC) A perfect world does not exist, but if one does what core values would you make a staple in the creative community?
(Aheneah) For me, one of the most important values in the creative community is sharing. Opinions, ideas, references or skills. Let’s set aside the idea that alone we can do and achieve everything and let’s start looking at others as a way to boost our goals and empower the community. One pushes another and if any of my creative colleagues achieves a new mark it means that also my work can go even further. I guess that’s why it’s called “community”.
I saw my grandmother doing cross stitch on a kitchen cloth and it blew my mind. I quickly realized that cross stitches worked in the same way as pixels. Two similar units which came to life in different generations
(VC) Some elements in your work incorporates your grandmother’s embroidery teachings with modern design. Has the reception of this approach been welcomed well by the public?
(Aheneah) I’ve grown up seeing my great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mother sewing, knitting and embroidering together. I remember to see them sharing tips and magazines. It was inevitable to not want to try, so I started to ask them to teach me. Somehow, I’ve always wanted to be part of that “club” and when I joined I found the best way to spend my free time while learning something new. However, my perspective about embroidery changed when I stumble upon cross stitch. One day, during my graphic Design Bachelor, I saw my grandmother doing cross stitch on a kitchen cloth and it blew my mind. I quickly realized that cross stitches worked in the same way as pixels. Two similar units which came to life in different generations, one very traditional, done by hand and another one which has emerged with digital evolution.
Thanks to the technique, the way I explore it and the graphics I use, I reach audiences of all ages. The older ones, who know the technique and its history and also the younger ones, who relate to the concepts and are attracted by this visual impact. Fortunately, I can say that the feedback is always very positive and it’s a blast to be able to connect two different generations by combining concepts and techniques coming from both.
(VC) Your publicly displayed Mural in Vila Franca de Xira is very Visual Collaborative. How challenging was it to put together?
(Aheneah) My work process is very curious. I always start working on digital software to plan everything including the final pattern. I move quicker that way. After that, it’s time to pick up the needles, threads, scissors and do the manual production. In some cases, I go back to digital to finish it. I often say that I’m always jumping from analog to digital and vice versa. When making cross stitch walls this is even stranger. One day I’m at home with my grandmothers preparing the wool loops, and suddenly, the next day I’m in a workshop working with power tools, wood, screws, and nails.
Mural by Ana Martins (Aheneah)
The mural in Vila Franca de Xira was even challenging than that. Working in my birth city, in a street that was part of my school-home path brought many memories and emotional connections.
(VC) Some mention the Renaissance times as an art period they admire. If you can time-warp back to any era, what time would it be and why?
(Aheneah) Recently I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum and since then I’ve been immersed in Ancient Egyptian art. The symbolism of the creations, the power of the simplicity and at the same time the eccentricity present in details or bold colors full fills my imaginary right now.
(VC) At this stage of your career, accomplishments and commitments, If you could work alongside any creative, public figure or company, who would it be and why?
(Aheneah) At this stage my main goal is to keep being surrounded by people who have a special look into creative field. Who think differently, long term and with the same excitement every day. That’s what keeps Aheneah growing so I think that is what really matters.
Swing of Spring by Ana Martins (Aheneah)
I always try to first understand where I’m going to be working, what kind of people live there and what are their traditions and histories
(VC) In your quiet or noisy moments how do you get inspired. What makes Aheneah create the work she does. Do you seek spirituality or get physiological like many artists for muses?
(Aheneah) I find inspiration and ideas in daily things, memories, new experiences or conversations. Following good magazines, blogs and creatives also help me to keep up to date with what is being done and keep pushing further. Sometimes, searching for new techniques or materials leads me to discover new graphic solutions or new concepts. When working specifically in my street artworks, I always try to first understand where I’m going to be working, what kind of people live there and what are their traditions and histories. It’s also a way to experiment with things that other way I never would.
(VC) What kind of commercial work or personal work can the world expect from Ana Martins within the next 24 months?
(Aheneah) My main goal is to be as closer as possible to people. Not physically but conceptually. I believe that the key for that inhabits in emotions. I’ll be working to accomplish this. Maybe in 24 moths my work will be more minimal but at the same time eccentric.