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Aldric Bonani: ‘inspiration is everywhere, the secret is to always be curious’

Talented designer Aldric Bonani, along with his wife Amanda, self-published a stunning children’s book named “Palavrinha Desenhada” which later became part of our 100 Days. 100 Commissions campaign. Aldric tells us more about his love for visual arts and how he got to where he is today.
Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Aldric Bonani. I am a Brazillian born freelance graphic designer and letterer residing in Lisbon, Portugal, where I attend to private clients, agencies and studios from around the world.

My work focuses on logos, illustrations, editorial creation, murals and calligraphic personalisations. I am a self-taught designer and have been working in visual arts for 26 years. For many years I worked exclusively as a graphic designer, but in 2015 I decided to immerse myself in the world of lettering. I now consider myself an image creator, passionate about letters.

Tell us about your book which we selected for our 100 Days. 100 Commissions campaign. You’re usually a lettering artist, how did the book come along?

As a graphic designer, I dedicated time to publishing over a dozen books, and it was in doing this that aroused—or perhaps only increased—my desire to personally write a book, especially a children’s book. And, of course, the letters could not be left out, because lettering is such a big part of my work. The book has a series of character illustrations with all chapter titles named after the characters with handcrafted lettering.

Children’s book Palavrinha Desenhada created by Aldric and Amanda
You’re a husband and wife team; how did you approach working together.

Yes! We’ve been married for 18 years. In 2019 she got pregnant, so we decided that this would be the perfect time to finally dedicate ourselves to this long-dreamt book. Working together was a sensational experience! We had more or less planned the theme of the book, but the process of writing the story was very dynamic. My wife, Amanda, basically created the structure of the story and I refined the text and brought in some more playful points, for example, the names of the characters are always related to their main characteristics.

You originally worked as a graphic designer before turning your hand to lettering, what led you to this change of direction?

Yes! In fact, having a great love for all forms of artistic expression, I previously dedicated my time to photography for a short period too. When I first started to work with lettering in 1995, the creative process was very different. We did everything on paper and then digitised it somehow. Over time, things started to become more and more automated—and, just amongst us—standardised and repetitive. This started to bother me a lot. Then in 2015 I went to a design event and attended a lecture by a calligrapher who created handmade letters and I fell in love with it from there! So at first I started to study calligraphy and lettering as a hobby, then by the time I got more serious about it I realised I was actually already working exclusively this way.

How did you go about self publishing? What advise would you give to others looking to do the same?

Self publishing has its challenges—honestly, there are many! You are solely responsible for the entire publishing process—from creation to review—and if you are not completely focused on the end result you could be tempted to give up on the project before it even takes shape. But, there is also a positive side to this—you ensure that your work is published exactly as you imagined it, without outside interference or market pressure. I have only two pieces of advice on this, the first and most important; stay focused throughout the process, even if in the middle of it everything seems impossible. Secondly, face it as an investment that you are making in yourself, if you don’t believe in your talent and the message you want to convey, no one else will!

How did you come up with the story/theme of your children’s book and how did you build it from initial ideas to finished works?

This is a difficult question to answer, perhaps because the idea of this book mixes a little with the story of our life. Up until I was 21 years old I was an atheist, and it was at that time I converted to Christ. Since then, I consider myself someone fascinated by the Bible and passionate about the figure of the Holy Spirit. I think it is important to speak of this context because the book was born from a reflection on the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit described in the letter to the Galatians, that teaches us about the character of Christ. We thought about relating each of the characteristics described there—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, fidelity, meekness and self-control—to animals as characters, who could represent each one of them. That idea leapt before our eyes. Our idea and intention was to make these characteristics easily understandable to children. The main process of creation was very challenging as this was my first children’s illustration work. But, we were extremely satisfied with the final result.

Talk us through how you used the Affinity apps for your book.

For years I used software from other companies and they served me well. However, after so long, they started to look obsolete, lacking in innovation, heavy, limited and expensive! However, I couldn’t find enough good alternatives on the market, especially for publishing software. This period coincided with the release date of Affinity Publisher, integrating the package with Designer and Photo. So, everything I needed was there—a professional quality software, full of innovations. It was intuitive and at an extremely fair price! I immediately canceled my subscription to the old software and bought the three Affinity apps!

This project, the book “Palavrinha Desenhada” was actually my first using the Affinity software suite and I can positively say it was a wonderful experience! I would not have been able to create these vector illustrations with this wealth of detail, texture and colour without StudioLink. In fact, it is difficult to express how powerful StudioLink is to increase productivity. Not to mention the ease of the vectorisation and export process. I now use Affinity for all my projects.

When working on a lettering project, where do you source inspiration from?

I always say that inspiration is everywhere, the secret is to always be curious and have your eyes open! I often find inspiration when I challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. I always look out for new things to try, new materials to use and new processes that can be added to my work. I believe that the secret is not to limit our sources to our field of action. I, for example, rarely get inspired by the work of other letterers or calligraphers, not because I don’t admire their work, but to avoid the risk of just reproducing something that has already being done. A great source of inspiration for my work are portfolios of photographers, painters and even tattoo artists.

What sort of project do you enjoy working on most?

My heart is divided between design and lettering. As a designer I love editorial design and branding, and as a letterer I am passionate about creating murals!

Do you have a particular dream project you aspire to work on?

Many! But the main thing is, without a doubt, a project with children. Since I was very young I have been passionate about visual arts. My parents encouraged my curiosity, but it was in a time where access to information was not as simple as today. So I really believe that my encounter with the arts ended up taking longer to happen than I would have liked.

My dream project—which has timidly started to take shape—consists of free lectures on art in public schools and at the end of these lectures to create a mural with the participation of all the students. I say that this project started timidly because I already had the opportunity to give this lecture at a public school, but then when we planned to do the mural all this pandemic confusion started so it couldn’t actually go ahead. But as soon as we possibly can this project will be resumed!

What helps boost your creativity when you’re lacking inspiration

The great danger of loving what we do is not setting limits on our work. We are unable to establish schedules for the time that we spend creating and our other tasks in life. It is as if we cannot stop working and I believe that this is the greatest limitation to our creativity—not respecting our own rest time. I believe that the best way to optimise our creativity is to rest!

Do you have any plans for future books and publications?

Yes! For sure! I’d love to experience writing even more content for children. Maybe we’ll have news for 2021?

You can see more of Aldric’s work on his website and Instagram.