Interview: Clara Não


© Clara Não
Between illustration, design, creative writing and urban art, she just wants to have fun! Meet Clara Não, the artist exploring warmth yet strange feelings common for us all.

It was while researching the functioning of the human brain that Clara Não found the origin of her aesthetic. Awkward situations common to us all are portrayed by the hand and words of this young artist with simplicity, in a somehow naive way and, above all, a lot of humour. Returning to the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto after a season studying illustration in Holland, she brought in her luggage not only her love of writing but also her desire to know herself better. 

Why did you choose Clara Não for a name?

Why not? My name’s Clara Silva. Silva is one of the most common names in the world and the second most common in Portugal. That got me thinking “I must change my name! Clara can stay, but Silva has to go...” I then made a list of possibilities and my answer to them was always "No! No, no! (Não! Não, não!)” 'Then I just chose this 'No' I was repeating. It has something to do with me and one can play with the meaning of it.

How do you describe Clara Não's work?

Clara Não tells stories. I know I feel things - I know I feel MANY things - but it is very difficult for me to give a name to what I feel. So I started writing to try to figure out how to express it all. I then came to the conclusion that if I wanted to understand myself and my feelings, the only person who can help me do it is I. Myself.

How did you come to that conclusion?

It all began in an exercise of a Master's degree class, in which, through images, we had to appropriate something and choose a designation for it. At the time, I was thinking a lot about the brain, because we understand how all the organs of our body work, except for the brain. So I started to investigate it and realized that the whole theory about the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain is not quite like people imagine. When I spoke of this with the class’ teacher, he suggested I write about it. In three hours, I had made 40 texts and sorted them in the zones of my brain, and that is how the transition from design to writing began.
The starting points of your work are always your emotions and personal experiences?

Exactly! Everything I write about really happened to me and it's true! And I only write about myself, because I cannot be inside other people's brains...

We can find Clara Não's "truths" scattered throughout the city. Why did you decide to use the "street" as a platform?

I decided to do it when I realized that it is very difficult for me to exhibit my work. It's something very personal and hard for me to share. I have a side of me that’s a bit rough, and you notice it when I speak and I curse and I’m raw, and while this side is easier to show, the other one isn’t. So I decided that if it was for me to show to other people what I do, it had to be real. And that it had to be in the street.

Do you consider what you do as urban art? What feedback have you had?

It is urban art because it is on the street and can be seen by everyone. Although, most of the time, I write it with charcoal, which comes out in the wind and the rain. People generally like it, and the only problem I have is that sometimes people erase it. But I want them to do it, so that I can make new ones after. 

You're also a DJ in the Shuggah Lickurs duo. Is music another of Clara’s passions?

It all started as a joke. I was part of the students association and there was a time when Carolina, who is one of my best friends, asked me if I could play some music at a college party. I answered yes, but only with two conditions: that she would join me and that we would choose the corniest name! The truth is that it went better than expected and the name eventually stuck. For the last three years we have been playing regularly in Maus Hábitos and now we even have a celebration matching tattoo. 

What's next?

After experiencing a lot and never being totally satisfied, I finally start liking what I am doing. I think I can honestly say that I no longer have the feeling that something’s always missing. I cannot tell you exactly what's coming next, but I can tell you that I finally feel that I'm on the right track!