Cláudia Guerreiro

Illustration by: Zé Pereira

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes

Ocupation: Illustrator & Bassist

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese

1 – Tell me a little bit about some of the people who influenced you most in your life.

It’s difficult to answer this because everything around you influences you and sometimes you don’t even realize it, but my uncles, no doubt about it.They are both sculptors, unfortunately my uncle has already passed away, and they always took me to the arts part, I grew up and I spent a lot of time with them doing sculpture and I ended up going to that area later because it was what I really wanted. Nowadays, I see that if I didn’t had that influence, I would have gone to another area of the arts.

Our parents always influence us. I would say that my father influenced me a little bit more, because he played, he would always encourage the family during dinner parties, so it was of course a great influence for the music part.

I always remember Gaza, because he was the first bassist to really show me how to play and that a bass could be something really cool. Usually you always think about a guitar when you want to play an instrument.

2 – Tell me about a memory of your childhood that you strongly remember.

Whenever I think of memories I think of something I can see more often, such as photographs. Then I remember my house in Queluz, with my cousin, dressed as an angel in the land of my grandparents; to be with my uncles in the atelier and do things in clay. I think people tend to memorize stories that are being told and repeated.

I remember being three years old at my aunt’s workshop in Estremoz and my other uncles went to Serra da Estrela because it was going to snow a lot there, but it actually snowed in Estremoz and it didn’t snow in Serra da Estrela, which was quite ironic. I remember this story because it was told several times and I know it happened, not properly for personal remembrance. I also remember all the parties we had at home where the family seemed always friendlier than it really was and then later people would split up, die and sometimes get upset with each other.

I also have several memories of school, of the 5th and 6th grades, when I started to listen to Nirvana and all the bands that my cousin showed me, from Bryan Adams, Zeca Afonso to Roxette or REM. I loved Vivaldi’s four seasons and some more classical music. I was also a big fan of Pearl Jam, but Nirvana was the number one band.

One day when I got to school, I was pranked, I was very little, and it was a little embarrassing, mainly because I was asked to fill a condom with air and I didn’t even know what was that, so I asked the older boys who were trying to show me how to do it, naturally they were also embaressed and the whole situation was quite embarrassing in general.

From the 10th grade, at the Queluz High School, I was always attached to the guitar. I met Hélio because I had a colleague who loved music and wanted to play, so he invited Hélio to be the drummer. I remember that I met you on a bus stop and I asked him “So, you’re the drummer?” (laugh).

3 – Do you think the national crisis somehow encourages creativity?

I think it has always encouraged it, it’s exclusive of this moment. It’s a terrible way to encourage creativity and a fucking excuse, even if it works.
It’s even bad to talk about it, because it seems like it gives people an excuse to be more creative.

When I was in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona in Erasmus, I saw that they had many good conditions and did very uninteresting things. We have very few conditions here and we do cool things, so I think we can do incredible things. There’s that Macgyver spirit in Portugal, perhaps because we have little possibilities, but it shouldn’t be an issue. The crisis can’t bring good things. It’s good to know that if the world is all alike we do well and others may not so easily, but it can also be the opposite, it’s complicated.

I think that in Portugal there’s little courage to come up with something, only when others do it then it’s good, so I think there is a lot of creativity but little courage.

“I think people sometimes think that problems are simple to solve and that if they were there it would all be very easy, but I think they are a lot more complicated.”

4 – If you would rule in Portugal, what would you do?

I would surround myself with people I really trust to help me make good decisions, because all things have more than one side, so it’s good to have a variety of opinions and perspectives. There is no right or wrong way to look at issues, you benefit some and harm others, it’s complicated to be in power and I would try to do the best I can.

I think people sometimes think that problems are simple to solve and that if they were there it would all be very easy, but I think they are a lot more complicated.

5 – How did your passion for illustration started?

I always drew, always. So it started very naturally, especially since I had my uncles who were sculptors and who “fed” me this, as I mentioned earlier.
The concept of illustration came later, for me it was more the drawing than an idea of illustration. I only  realized later what illustration really was.

6 – Do you think that Portugal stays behind regarding what is done outside in terms of illustration and music?

We now have, finally, the same resources as the others. For an illustrator the resources have always been the same, you just needed to invent, you could make collages, draw with chopsticks, but today fortunately it’s already possible to order material from everywhere, which facilitates a lot.

At the music level I think it was a more complicated process, there were few amplifiers and guitars, which were mostly expensive. With computers it’s much more accessible to make music. Of course it depends on whether or not you can have a computer, I had my first one at the age of 20, I had never played on a computer before, only in 1999. Nowadays we have access to everything. Computers, mobile phones with recorders and incredible programs…

I think we make music just as well as in other countries, but we are small, we are here in a corner of Europe, we don’t have many people. Nowadays there are many bands, but even so comparing at the percentage level with England we have practically nothing.

Some countries have something that we don’t have so much, they have a habit of playing, it seems that they are born with guitars in their hands. I had difficulties with my parents to play, it seemed that I was doing something forbidden and so it was natural that it was more difficult for us. Kids nowadays already start playing early, which is great. Nowadays there are many more bands with much younger people and they are good bands, they don’t make kids music. I would say that a fair development in relation to other countries began recently in Portugal, because now you have a computer since you were a child, access to all the information and equipment, which was previously unthinkable.

“I never even thought that a band of mine could have recognition. I had bands to enjoy, not exactly to get somewhere, without any expectations, which was good. I like to play with people because of them, not for the music itself.”

7 – If you could choose musicians to play with you, who would you choose?


I have dreamed many times with Nirvana, but I never dreamed that I played with them, it was always If Lucy Fell.
I think the main reason was because If Lucy Fell were an amazing band, the best we had here and then because I was always there to see them, but more to enjoy, and in addition If Lucy Fell always played with the bands which I enjoyed playing (laughs). However it’s funny how things nowadays seem a lot more viable than a few years ago. Back in the days it was all but impossible, and suddenly we had Chris Common here (drummer of These Arms are Snakes), which shows that everything is easier.

I never even thought that a band of mine could have recognition. I had bands to enjoy, not exactly to get somewhere, without any expectations, which was good. I like to play with people because of them, not for the music itself. One of the people I most enjoy playing with is Rui, but playing with someone so close can sometimes be a bit complicated and then rarely happens. I would like to play with Dead Combo, and I would love to play with PJ Harvey as well.

I’m very used to playing with friends and sometimes you want to do something new and you’re a bit limited, but it’s a risk to be inviting people I don’t know and then not doing well together.

8 – What is your opinion about the national panorama of illustration?


I am a very inattentive person, I don’t read magazines or newspapers, I’m horrible in that. Lately I have been more attentive to illustration, because Instagram has helped me a lot and is easy to navigate from illustrator to illustrator. I think the Portuguese illustration is very good. Porto seems stronger to me, because they know how to do things together, there is a lot of spirit and unity, something that I don’t feel is so strong in Lisbon, but I feel that is changing.

Personally I feel that I don’t integrate into many things, that what I do is not very fashionable. And fashion is important in art…

9 – National projects in music that you want to highlight?


I start by telling you that “project” is a word that I don’t like to use. Let’s talk about bands that are not projects anymore, that are real and give shows. Projects stay in the garage.

There is an artist I don’t particularly listen to, but I admire her, it’s Sequin, I think we had few projects like her in Portugal. We needed more projects with a woman, not just a songwriter project. Surma, Jibóia, for doing something very different from what is being done here.

We’ve always had good bands, but many of them are hidden and it’s natural that you don’t know them all.

Obviously Filho da Mãe and Dead Combo, but these are well known bands already.


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