Interview with pop surreal artist Helena Reis

Helena Reis was born and currently lives in Lisbon, Portugal with her husband and two kids. She started to draw and paint at a very young age, creating her own fantasy world. It was only in 2005 that she began to take art seriously, making her own techniques as she is entirely self-taught. After a lot of trial and error, Helena has found her own unique style, a mix of creepy, dark and cute, representing personal fears and nightmares. It has become a way of overcoming self doubts, by portraying her darker side in a lighter perspective. To create her artwork Helena uses traditional mixed media on wood, including watercolor pencils, watercolors, acrylics, gouache and archival ink. She recently opened a gallery, Penumbra Art Boutique & Studio, in her hometown and now represents artists from all over the world.
Hello dear Helena, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I enjoy drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, from the table-top in school to my mother´s home decor, my bedroom walls...everything had to be painted! I didn't choose to be an artist, in fact for a long time I wanted to be a veterinarian or biologist, but art  became a part of me, and little by little it changed from a hobby to a full time job. It´s just something I have to do.
What  was / is  your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I was first influenced and very inspired by fantasy art, but a couple of years ago I found the pop surrealism genre, and it spoke to me. Finally my weird ideas had some sort of place and definition in the art world. I also find inspiration in music and horror movies.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I recently opened a gallery and moved my studio there, so basically now I just paint during office hours, no more late night painting... which is weird!
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I am completely self-taught, I started to work in my teen years and unfortunately I didn't had the time or means to join an Art Academy.
What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
I think pop surrealism is a very honest genre, I mean you can almost get to know the artists just by looking at their artwork. In surrealism everything appears distorted, its a view inside the artist, but not very clear. Pop surrealism it´s a like a vivid dream.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I love the freedom and that I can be myself. Also being my own boss it´s pretty cool.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
This reminds me of those funny meme charts, where you see a small percentage of actual work, and the rest of it is procrastinating and hating our work. ( It happens ok? ) But yeah I can be in a super creative mode, ideas flow onto paper like crazy, or I´m just depressed and can´t draw a single line. My favourite medium is mix of gouache, colored pencils and chalk pastel. I really enjoy to mix things up and try different techniques. I recently tried oils and I´m loving them!
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would love to turn some of my paintings into art dolls, if only I had the skills.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
My workspace is either very organized or a complete mess, depends on the project I´m working on. My previous studio ( it was a room in my house) was way messier, with kids and cats in there, music blasting all the time (sorry neighbours!). Now that I paint in a place that is open to the public it´s different, but the music will keep on blasting.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
I´ve learn a whole lot about people that´s for sure. The biggest lesson is that you only have to worry about yourself, what works for others may not work for you. Just be true to yourself.
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
The best advice was to practice a lot! Experiment, dont´be afraid to fail.
The worst was that the „way to go“ was to mimic someone else's work.
Sorry! ain't gonna do that!
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
There are few things that I dislike, but I don´t really like to talk about it. The hardest thing... hmmm sometimes one can feel underestimated, undervalued.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
I see myself doing what I do now, but as an artist I want to keep improving.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
The only advice that works in my opinion is to keep practicing and trying new things, challenge yourself.
Your favorite art or life quote is …
„Art is not what you see, it is what you make others see“ - Degas
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
With kids, husband, a cat and the house to take care of it´s not easy to have a hobby. But I do enjoy watching the ocasional movie.
Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
Certainly: Facebook Page and Website.

Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now  or any ongoing  event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
Yes!! I am part of the Low to Pop 2 exhibition at Funarte Gallery in Lisbon, so happy to finally be able to show in my country and with such amazing artists.

And I´ve also moved Penumbra Art Boutique & Studio to a brand new space! The inaugural exhibit will be on October 17th and will feature 10 of my favourite artists.
It will be a very special show.
Thank you dear Helena, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda , 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS