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Halfstudio – making signs cool again!

Portuguese duo Halfstudio shared their story of how they became Lettering experts with dynamic layouts sending out striking messages to the world. Find out how they start their  average day and who sings in the morning! 

(ISSA) – What you choose to drink?

(Halfstudio) – Coffee in the morning, Beer in the afternoon.

-Introduce yourself
We are Mariana and Emanuel from Portugal, and we run Halfstudio, a Lettering and Sign Painting studio, which covers various creative fields always with the Lettering being the central element.
Our visual language is characterized by the use of three-dimensional letters and dynamic layouts with striking messages and vibrant colours. In our murals and urban art interventions the message is always inspired by the community where the piece takes place.

-How do you define yourself? Artists? Street artists? Anything else?
We’ve started as graphic designers, but since our work has been changing so much since then, now we are figuring out what to call ourselves, probably artists.

– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
Well, when we met back in 2010 we were working as graphic designers for other companies, but soon after that we started to collaborate together in freelancing projects. Halfstudio appeared because we needed a name to sign our side projects.
In the beginning we were just working in graphic design projects on the computer but later we felt a need to do something out of the digital world. Mariana always loved to draw and Emanuel had a special passion for typography and letterforms, so we came up with the ideia to start drawing lettering by hand. The WOW moment was when we discovered Sign Painting on a video and it completely blown our minds and we wanted to learn how to do it. Since in Portugal there was no one doing Sign Painting at that time and there was no school to learn from, we looked overseas but the courses available where to expensive for us at the time, so we began to learn by ourselves.
We learned a lot from looking at old painted signs in Portugal but also from UK and USA, specially the American post-war signs, that were very inspiring for us because of their boldness and impact.
It has been a long journey since then and our work has been changing a lot. We love to paint signs for commercial purposes, but nowadays we are getting a lot of pleasure by exploring the artistic side of our work and getting to paint more murals and doing exhibitions more often.

-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Shower, breakfast and coffee. Emanuel also sings.

-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
Probably Hip Hop, but the most important is to be a music with a strong and positive message.


-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
Our daily basis life; the local communities traditions and culture; the global issues of today.

-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
To find the concept and the message for the piece.

-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
We admire a wide range of artists, from sculptors, painters, designers, musicians, for many different reasons. Sometimes is the complexity of their work and the perfection on the execution, other times is the message and meaning of their works/songs.

-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
We loved Paris and London because of their diversity, history and street culture. In both cities you can find street art and traditional hand painted signs at the same corner.

-What other passions do you have apart from art?
Travel and get to know different cultures, taste good food, collect records and toys.

-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
A large scale anamorphic mural that covers multiple buildings.

-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
The message for us is one of the most important aspects of our work.

– How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
The enamels signs can last a long time, the murals obviously depends a lot: they can last a long time or they can be covered in the next day ☺

-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
The feedback we get tell us that people usually feel happy with the vibrant colours and the sentences because they feel that the message is directed to them, which is our main goal.

-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us? 🙂
No secrets. ☺

-What are your creative plans for the future?
Continue to push our boundaries further, experimenting with new materials and techniques.

-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Hate ain’t nothing.

Thank you! It’s been great to get to know more about the mind and person behind such talented and inspiring works.

‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.


Lisbon mural for Eurovision 2018

More links:

A welcome mural by Halfstudio in Lisbon


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