Just breathing, meet Marina UI designer an Illustrator

Updated: Feb 13



Hi, I'm Marina and I’m from sunny Málaga, Spain, and I’m (mostly) based in Tokyo since 2018 🗼


What do you do for a living?


I’m a UI designer and illustrator for a Japanese company.


Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?


I did! But I couldn’t pursue my true dream until I finished uni (Building Engineering), so I started my professional designer/artist career a bit “late”. I’m fully self-taught in both interface design and illustration.


How can you describe your art?


My art is inspired by 90’s anime, pastel colors, and retro aesthetics. I like to do simple pieces purely because I don’t have the patience to do anything detailed haha. I also enjoy doing pixel art and want to get better at it.




Which playlist/music puts you in the mood?


While I’m working I like to play podcasts or YouTube videos in the background, but if it’s music it would probably be some future funk or city pop tracks. I actually have a public playlist on Spotify in case anyone wants to check out this kind of music :)


How is your creative process?


I have a lot of ideas floating in my mind (more than the energy to develop them). When one of them clicks and I think it’s worth exploring it further, I write it down (I use Notion to organize my ideas). Then I usually spend a day or two searching for references. I start sketching in Procreate with my references opened next to me on my phone/laptop. Once I have a sketch I’m happy with I don’t need the references anymore, so I just focus on refining the sketch until it matches the idea I have in mind. That can last days or weeks. It might also never happen (so it goes to the pile of unfinished projects 🥲) If I’m planning to make a print or sticker I try to keep the right proportions and color separation from the beginning (this is a must if you do RISO/screenprinting)



When and how did you discover your style?


I guess I just do what I like at that moment, I don’t really worry too much about keeping a “style”. I normally use the same colors in all the pieces. I imagine that might make my “style” look more cohesive, but honestly, it’s just that I like those colors so I want to use them every time :)


Mental health is vital for an artist to create; what is your power secret to continue creating every day? Has your art been helping you to express those feelings?


In my case, I create art because I NEED to put my ideas on paper (on a screen really haha) They are not very deep concepts or anything, but I have the “urge” to represent what’s on my mind. I don’t really enjoy the process of drawing itself, but seeing a final piece that matches the idea I had makes me feel… fulfilled? So I guess in a way it does help me to express myself, even if I don’t find the process relaxing. This is why I would never want to be a freelance that draws full-time, it would be so difficult and stressful for me.


How do you prepare yourself every day to get new clients and commissions?


Luckily I have a full-time job so I rarely would take commissions in my free time. I only do them if I enjoy the concept, they are worth my time, and if they are well paid (most important point)


What is the best part of being an artist in Japan?


Living in Tokyo as an artist that likes Japanese aesthetics is a treat. My daily life is full of creative inputs and inspiration. You can find cute and well-designed stuff everywhere. I wander around a lot even if I’m not buying anything just to check out designs and colors.





What was the best advice someone ever told you?


“Your employer doesn’t want a top-tier designer, they just want to sleep like a baby” I read that once in a random article and it was eye-opening. You don’t have to be the best designer ever to actually work in the design field, and certainly, you don’t have to compare yourself with others. If you want to design for a company/client the most important thing is to be able to solve their design problems, and you don’t always need extra elaborated pieces to achieve that.



Which artists are an inspiration to you?

I’m very grateful to social media because I could get to know great artists like @frannerd, @sibylline_m, @owakita_, @meyoco, and many more that inspire me every day.


What will be your advice to new artists?


Don’t sell yourself short! You’ll be fine, I promise. Think about all the mediocre people that are charging more than you with zero regrets.


How can other people find your work?


You can find my art on @just.breathing, and my daily life and photography on @breathing.tokyo. I also have an online shop and a podcast! You have all the info on breathing.tokyo





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