Communicating nostalgia via art and design is challenging. Nostalgia, or saudade, as the Brazilians or Portuguese would say, is an abstract concept.
Saudade is “a Portuguese and Galician word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.”
But what tools could you use to convey this feeling? Here I chose a longing expression in the eyes, a somber palette and lots of texture.
My favorite type of illustration is spontaneous, using no reference and little planning. I like pulling this off on the iPad. It’s liberating to use free form expression, necessary to a well balanced artistic diet. Part of freeing the mind from constraint is finding the least cumbersome tools. A ball point pen with a napkin as a canvas is a classic example.
What sheer joy to work digitally in such a whimsical manner! It’s my first experience using this new technology. The result is quick, bright and full of energy – a contrast to the subject’s nostalgic mood.
If you’re curious about the concept of saudade, you can read more here.
Also, one of my favorite songs by French pop icon Etienne Daho is Saudade, his own artistic contribution to this deliciously sensual concept: