Atelier Joana Vasconcelos | Lisboa Cool
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Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

Where art is born

We visited the studio of one of Portugal’s and the world’s most reputable plastic artists – Joana Vasconcelos – who has already gotten a lot of people talking with pieces such as the shoe, the garden of Eden, the Bordallo Pinheiro crochet pieces, the Dior bow and the major milestone in the artist’s career so far: a solo exhibition at the Château de Versailles.

The friendly Aviva accompanied us on this visit, showing us the space, the people who work there, their responsibilities and how the fascinating process of creating a piece actually happens.

The studio is located on the Bom Sucesso Dock and therefore is a large space that is perfectly adapted to loading and unloading containers, although this is not Joana’s case; but she too needed an ample space for her equally ample team, as well as her pieces of art, some of which are also quite large.

Since Versailles, Joana’s team has grown at the speed of light and from 20 people it quickly grew to a team of 45 people. The team is composed of artisans, seamstresses, electricians, carpenters, painters, architects, photographers to record Joana’s work, press officers to handle communication, the entire financial part of a company, and they also welcome trainees from various countries, whom Joana insists on paying.

Regarding the creation of a piece, the process is as follows: Joana has an idea, sketches it, chooses the fabrics and colors and passes the sketch along to the architects that transform it into a technical 3D drawing, which is then given to the artisans and seamstresses who create the props (they also have the liberty to make any necessary changes without steering too far from Joana’s initial idea of course). After all the elements are ready, it's time to build the piece and test whether the initial purpose was achieved; it is then photographed, so that it can go its own way.

After the visit, we were surprised at the work, logistics and people that are required to create just one piece of work. You need to truly work as a team so that the final piece is truly perfect; and judging from the atmosphere we witnessed here, we’re certain that there is great team spirit here. Aviva confirms that it is cool working in Joana’s atelier, the conditions are great and the relationship between colleagues is excellent.

Aviva also told us that Joana created a foundation to preserve her work and that in the future, the idea is to create a collection with national and international artists, with whom Joana has already worked with. In addition, she also wants to create scholarships for art students. We’ll just have to wait for that collection so we have another excuse to visit the atelier again.