Whether you’re a die-hard electronic music fan or more likely to be listening to country, it’s safe to assume every individual has a pop-sounding track they love, even if it’s a guilty pleasure or nostalgic revisit. It’s this latter quality that Brazilian-born, Lisbon-based illustrator Paola Saliby chose to represent when handed the pop genre to visualise. “Pop music takes me right back to my pre-teenager years, when I used to carry my discman everywhere and would listen to Spice Girls, Alanis Morissette and Britney, repeatedly,” she recalls. As the illustrator has grown up, a broader spectrum of artists and genres presented themselves, and while traditional “pop” music has taken a bit of a backseat, “I’d say it’s always been present,” adds Paola. “Recently, like most millennials, I started to become nostalgic and sometimes listen to 90s playlists,” noting the exception of “the gorgeous Lizzo” as an artist she’s often bopping along to.
To represent the pure joy that pop music evokes, Paola’s artworks portray how for the artist “Pop music is about dancing, singing out loud and having fun,” resulting in artworks with a high level of movement and energy. Working intuitively to elicit this feeling, the illustrator describes her creative process as embodying that “improvisation and unpredictability that reminds me of body movements when dancing,” she tells It’s Nice That.
In terms of tools to translate this sensation Paola opted to use her iPad and a series of digital brushes. A process that sees her move slightly away from her traditional practice of working with paint and analogue techniques, a digital playground allowed more room for Paola to experiment, describing the practice as “more spontaneous and gestural”. Creating a series of loose shapes which could bounce around the templates for the playlist’s cover, even Paola’s spacing aims to “represent the lively mood that the genre is all about,” she says. “It was a great opportunity to create something less figurative because it allowed me to go with the flow, without planning too much."
Words: Lucy Bourton