Marina Esmeraldo

Marina Esmeraldo


Raised in Brazil, Marina Esmeraldo now splits her time between Barcelona and London, but no matter where she draws, her radical lines, shapes, and colors mash together to create something loud, feminist, and new.

Above: Series of protest signs created in collaboration with Refinery29.


Relevant to our readership, note that Marina is also cofounder and art director of In Shades Magazine, a weekly illustrated short fiction magazine. Read more about that below.

Above: Series for The Debrief, featuring illustrations of social media's echo chamber and the fitness backlash.


How does she do it?! I mean, this woman is a champ. Exhibiting in fancy places like the Venice Biennale, for goodness' sakes. Her clients include Google, Adidas, Sony, ASOS, Refinery29, Lenny Letter, Wired, Women's March, and many others.


Above: An Illustration for Stack Magazines.


We had to know more. Read this interview and then head over to our Lit page to see our partnership with Marina in action. Don't miss the fiction piece co-published in both Paper Darts and In Shades. 


Paper Darts: What are some sources that you draw inspiration from?

Marina Esmeraldo:

To be completely honest, I am often inspired by sheer competitiveness, rejection, and jealousy.

People love to ask about inspiration but rarely get a truthful answer. But, of course, I’m inspired by life—modern art, the beach, swimming in the sea, reading books, travelling . . .



Gif made for This Greedy Pig.


Paper Darts: Can you describe your creative process? How do you create your digital pieces (i.e. what programs do you use, is there usually a physical copy you work off of, etc.)?

Marina Esmeraldo: I tend to have images form quickly in my head when I read a brief or have an idea. But if not, I’ll sketch a bit and do word association, which always triggers imagery in my mind. Then I go to the computer. I love the practicality of vector illustration. I endlessly admire artists who use paper and paint, but for me the go-to is my tablet.



Gif made for This Greedy Pig.

Paper Darts: How did the idea for In Shades come about?

Marina Esmeraldo: I’d always wanted to collaborate with my husband, James, on any sort of creative project. We'd been looking for ways to combine our respective creative fortes. James is a writer and a musician, and very passionate about stories, be them movies, songs, books, comics, podcasts . . . He’d been observing for a while that short fiction has been going through a resurgence, especially in Britain, where the short story can often be seen as the underachieving runt sibling of the novel.

It occurred to both of us to be a good fit for the attention-deficit age we live in and a great way to combine both disciplines.



Gif made for This Greedy Pig.

Paper Darts: Can you talk about the process of collaboration? What are some of the challenges/rewards in your experience of working with others on creative pieces?

Marina Esmeraldo: Collaborating, in my experience, always yields far greater results than when I try to do everything by myself! I used to be a perfectionist but learned to let go of it some time ago. I love working with photographers, art directors, musicians, writers, and other illustrators. Miscommunication and perfectionism can sometimes bring challenges, but I've always grown from those experiences.

Illustrations for Refinery29 on fun Halloween pun costumes, like "Chip On The Shoulder" and "Netflix and Chill."

Paper Darts: Is there any type of subject or project you would be interested in tackling in the future?

Marina Esmeraldo: In my own illustration practice, I'm having lots of fun traveling for work, be it to give a talk, make a mural, or launch an exhibition, so I'd love to do that more. I'm also always interested in doing spatial stuff. As for In Shades, we've been working towards a printed edition for a while now, and we're excited to get it out there!



We will leave you with Marina's perfect portrait of the goddess Grace Jones for Dublin–based Hen's Teeth Prints.



Follow Marina wherever she goes!
At least on Instagram. 


Interview by Caytlin Kuszewski.

Camille Chew

Camille Chew

Guillaume Kurkdjian

Guillaume Kurkdjian