Do you like to wander? Are you seeking solace? Are you turning to nature and landscapes to be inspired and encouraged? Are you figuring out the absurd situations, odd habits, or other eccentric aspects of daily life? In such moments, turning to art re-enacts our emotions and magnifies our natural survival instincts. Complexity in life demands a catalyst to foster coherence and clarity. Seemingly, looking at the artwork that recognizes the intensity of the modern world and comforts in uncertainties or sorrows and amplifies exuberance is beneficial to our well-being.
The contemplative landscape paintings of Mariannita Luzzati is one of the activators to learn about the mysteries of the world around us. An artist that sparks the knowledge to living a hedonic way through a mediative outlook. Born in São Paulo, of Italian parents who arrived in Brazil in the sixties, Mariannita Luzzati artworks honors the natural habitat and explores the interconnectedness of humans to their environment.
“These images suggest that the viewer should contemplate and reflect on emptiness and silence, which for me, is our greatest need today,” says the artist.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-
ML: It is the need to create a pictorial space on my work in which I somehow feel I can insert myself in.
In fact, I create a parallel reality of the aesthetic ideal that I pursue.
Jupilings: Why are you focused on the concept of the landscapes-
ML: Because I want to be there, to be at that particular landscape in the middle of nature briefing nature.
Nature is an infinite thematic element, and I always discover new ways of seeing it.
Environmental issues are of great interest to me, and it motivates me to develop my work.
Jupilings: What is your life motto-
ML: To be true to me. This approach includes doing nothing that offends my ethics. To be close to the people I love and to stay close to nature and to have a simple life.
Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt-
ML: A long walk in the countryside is the best way to down negative thoughts. I love swimming and yoga, as well. I always try to ignore negative thoughts. I don’t exercise self-doubts, and I believe that mistakes and successes sadness and happiness are part of life, and we have to experiment it.
Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working
ML: I never answer phone calls or messages when I am at the studio so, I am very focused when I am working. I love to be absorbed entirely in my studio or my readings during my working time.
Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-
ML: Love it!
I love it when I am criticized! I believe that opening discussions about my work is always interesting and productive and makes me reflect on what I am doing.
Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-
ML: Be yourself. Do not follow trends. Be truthful in what you do. Do not mirror the career of another artist. Each human being is unique and has its trajectory. Stay open to other arts such as music, cinema dance, theatre, etc.…
Jupilings: What is the role of art today-
ML: For me, art’s role is to modify the perception of the world and life taking us out of our comfort zone, confronting us with new questions, making us look inside of ourselves, and finally opening a new window in our lives.
Jupilings: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard
ML: When a white horse passes in front of your window, just jump on it! (I received this advice when I was in my twenties and was reluctant to accept an invitation I received to make my first solo show at a significant Gallery in São Paolo. So, I jumped on it!)
Without a doubt, Art, especially portraiture channels, a better understanding of ourselves and others. It nudges us towards empathy, appreciation of diversity, and the grasp of emotions. From documentation to speculation, the category of portrait art is fascinating as it gives insights to the interior self. As Lucian Freud stated: ‘I think a great portrait has to do with the way it is approached … it is to do with the feeling of individuality, and the intensity of the regard and the focus on the specific’.
Dynamic and vibrant, Milenna Saraiva captures the spirit and the expressions of her sitter with a strong brush of paint in her portraits. Her strength in depicting the likeness inspired by the individual’s narrative and conviction is passionate. She pushes the age-old genre in new directions where the feelings are revealed, and the appearance utters the individual’s true essence.
Milenna: I was born in SÃO Paulo, Brazil. I grew up surrounded by musicians and Art in my family circle, so I was always stimulated to be creative. I recollect always drawing since I was very young. I was a shy child, so drawing helped me to communicate and protected me from the world. I ended up getting into dancing and then gymnastics and became an athlete at 12 years old. I used to practice for 8 hours a day, after school, and travel around the country competing with my teammates. Even then, I continued drawing on the side. When I was 17, I injured myself and decide to stop training. At 18, I decided to go to the US to study Fine Arts, and there I lived for the next 14 and a half years. Los Angeles was an excellent teacher and mother to me, but I missed my real base in Brazil and moved back to my country. I continued my education here with a post-grad degree in contemporary painting. I started to make my way into the art world here, doing all kinds of arts-related activities. One of them was live painting. Once I observed and connected with the visual performance, it changed the way I paint and my approach. It has also given me the confidence I need to loosen up and let my emotions come out with way less restrained. Today I have an art studio that I go to every day and spend at least 8 hours working. I spend my time discovering new ways to express myself through my work, painting commissions, murals, and performing live painting in all kinds of events.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-
Milenna: Art is the language of my thoughts. I find it easier to paint than to use words. The lights, the darks, and the layers of depth that come from playing with textures and colors give me a freedom that I cannot find in Portuguese or English. Painting is my quiet way of expressing my heritage and questioning social values. My work has become a tool for me to narrate my life experiences in parables. The paintings I make reflect my personal mythology.
Jupilings: As a portrait artist, you capture aspects of a person’s identity, likeness, and emotions. In your artwork, do you aim to portray the individuals as to how they see themselves, or how they perceive them-
Milenna: I want my portraits to give clues about the portraited people’s energy and essence. I do want them to identify with the works too. For that, I rely on trying to perfect my technique. Portraits are tricky, though, people want their portraits made still, in most cases are surprised when they see the final product. Their expectation is to see themselves as they see themselves and not how the artist sees them. The way we see ourselves is unique to ourselves. There are many versions of us, one to each different person that we meet, so it’s impossible to fulfill that desire unless you are a photo-realistic artist. And that will never interest me. In my opinion, an artwork will always have the artist’s perceptions engraved all over it.
Jupilings: What are your thoughts on “portraits” to create a visual dialogue to explore social justice, sexuality, race, and many other controversial subjects-
Milenna: I’m attracted to controversial subjects, clearly, lol. I think portraits have always been fantastic tools to create dialogues, subtle dialogues with those paying attention. Many artists have and are using imagery and symbols to tell stories, to convey hidden or explicit messages. At this moment, I’m not taking advantage of the allegories that painting offers in all its possibilities; instead, I’m investing in the emotions and expressions of the markings, brush strokes and the colors to do all the ‘talking.’ For instance, the portrait of Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian human rights activist, and politician, murdered in mysterious circumstances by the militia, I used a very warm color pallet, with red drips, splashes, a well-defined box behind it, and name it “Seed.” I narrated her story in an observable manner, and those paying attention will hopefully understand it. That means my Art allows me to say what I want to say, but only to those who want to hear it. If Art is a form of communication, my paintings are a language.
Jupilings: What is your life motto-
Milenna: It changes a lot from time to time, depending on what’s going on. But there’s a good one I always go back to that says “Live whimsically. Love extravagantly. Dream boldly. Create daily.”
Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt-
Milenna: It’s a constant struggle to balance everything that happens in my mind. But I think I usually sort it all out by painting. Negativity and positivity are only opposite sides of the coin. As well as self-doubt and confidence. I believe that self-doubt is essential for improvement. When I’m questioning myself if something is as good as I could make it, I will keep working on it until self-doubt is gone.
Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working-
Milenna: I don’t think I manage distractions that well. I could be way more productive If I actually do away with it. I’ve gotten used to doing many things at the same time. Working on several projects at the same time. The distraction is also an opportunity, or maybe a window, to take a moment and then return to something I was very focused on. And sometimes, this little break could give me the answer that I need to finish a piece. So, I guess I embrace them.
Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-
Milenna: I will only accept criticism from people I respect and have more knowledge than I do. Otherwise, I ignore them completely. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from opinions since every person has a different one, you have to believe in what you believe in. There are many reasons you do what you do and how you do it, that precisely is what makes you unique.
Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-
Milenna: If you want to be an artist, study to be one, like a doctor studies to be a doctor. Learn every technique, learn how to draw and produce as much as you can. Only the practice of your craft will allow you to discover your true gift and unique style. Also, be organized with your works, photograph everything, and have an online portfolio since the beginning. It’s important to network, to be part of a group of people who think alike and have the same goals that you do.
Most importantly, what you love. Find out what inspires you and create based on what you love. When you do that, you will want to do it all the time, and you will never feel like you’re working. Know that not everyone will like what you do, and you’ll get many ‘no’s,’ but keep going until you get the ‘yes.’
Jupilings: What is the role of Art today-
Milenna: Art has many roles, in my opinion: To entertain, to express and provoke thinking and emotions, tell a story, shock, and sometimes to simply beautify the world. To me, it’s all of it.
Jupiligns: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard-
Milenna: At Santa Monica College, my painting teacher once told me I needed to work harder if I wanted to be an artist and said that “talent isn’t enough.” When I was younger, I was reckless. I used to go out at night and was always come late to painting classes. After that day, something changed in me.
It would be helpful if every time you act upon your impulsive ego, a holographic screen appears in front of your eyes, which would shed light on “why” and outlines the motive! Or, perhaps, you go through an out of body experience to watch how you are entrapped in heedless and primitive impulses, which impel you to be helpless and act irrationally. Possibly, in the future, with the help of technology, you will be able to materialize such visual awareness. Till then, you might as well resort to certain practices that will push you to another level of existence, far beyond hopeless confusion.
First of all, let’s reflect on the sense of ego; whether delving into Eastern philosophy or psychoanalysis, both recognize that uncontrolled and impulsive ego will lead to suffering.
Moving through different stages of ego to become the best version of yourself is not an easy path. The truth is that if you are lucky, life will sweep you through nasty havoc that will wound your self-identity and crush your image. A breakdown that can lead to a breakthrough by feeding the ideal self. Now, rising from the ashes is to take responsibility for your wellbeing. It starts with realizing that your thoughts are tainted by subjectivity and emotions since your mind has found security in the sense of belonging to the wrong structures, misinterpreted values, and egocentric pursuits.
While you are climbing up the spiral staircase of your spiritual evolution, I suggest you observe and question your motives, your triggers, contradictions, and practice the following transformational self-help:
Gain clarity by self-reflection and self-criticism – question your goal; if you feel uneasy about your reactions, cross-examine yourself to align your intent to your essence. Self-analysis is not about beating up oneself or agonizing but to understand the triggers, your role in the event, and blowing away the pollution so that the image of your intentions becomes sharp and transparent. The focus should be on you and not others.
See yourself from another perspective – use abstract thinking to match your motives to your best possible self. That entails imagining your future “Self” in unpleasant circumstances only when channeling your energy to shield your best version. By setting unwavering rules to be of service to all, however, is possible and live as a human, your future “Self” releases toxic struggles and replace the void with contentment.
Question the expectations – step back and reassess your approach and your expectations and how they connect to the problem. By re-evaluating the expectations, you will recognize the difference whether they are conventional & reactionary or wise and tolerant.
Remember, you cannot fill the bowl with water if it is turned upside down. To be fully alive is to be well-disposed to “Self” and others. The key is to question your motives every time the destructive “Self”/ “ego” appears. Taking a volunteering leap to an inspired “Self” means using your knowledge, patiently, and for good.Have grit, as the journey is bumpy, and evidently, the spiral staircase will not get more comfortable. You will fall back a few steps, and you will be aware of your limitations. However, regardless of the hardships, this time, with conviction and a humbled “ego,” you know how to get up quickly and how to wipe up the dust. Finally, as you go further, you realize that gratitude and generosity are your mental tools to serve and use your power to benefit others so that you act like an intelligent being.
When I lie on my back and look up at the Milky Way on a clear night and see the vast distances of space and reflect that these are also vast differences of time as well, when I look at the Grand Canyon and see the strata going down, down, down, through periods of time which the human mind can’t comprehend . . . it’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders, when I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling, I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders.
The concept of gratitude is described in different ways as an emotion, a virtue, or an attitude. Whatever your understanding of gratitude, often, it is defined by a two-step process: 1) “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome” and 2) “recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.” (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough). Yet, whatever your disposition with its meaning, interestingly, gratitude is not merely a cultural creation. Scientific research has shown that the concept is embedded in our evolutionary development. For instance, it has been observed that birds, vampire bats, or fish incur some costs to themselves in helping another member of their species, in view that it might be beneficial to them, eventually.
Furthermore, scientists suggest that gratitude has been developed gradually from this “tit for tat”behavior, better known as “reciprocal altruism.” A process that is based on turning strangers into friends who will likely help one another. Further studies on chimpanzees support this idea that these primates share food with another of their kind if they have been groomed or helped by them in the past. Or, studies from neuroscience have observed some areas in the brain that involve experiencing and expressing gratitude.
Consequently, gratitude is an inherent cognitive response strongly associated with greater happiness and better physical health. A study has shown that people’s heart health improves when they show appreciation, which is related to gratitude. Regardless of how you feel, express, or express gratitude, this emotion undeniably builds stronger relationships, creates good experiences, increases our well-being, and cultivates an optimistic attitude. Not to mention, gratitude has psychological benefits perceived as an intervention to overcome negativity. Moreover, individuals who have a grateful disposition are better protected from various forms of burnout. For instance, athletes who have grateful mindsets are less prone to burn the candle at both ends.
Nevertheless, the ability to be grateful requires seeds of humility and the willingness to develop our disposition intelligently. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. Studies have found that “counting your blessings” for ten weeks and keeping them in a gratitude journal increases optimism and improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and, importantly, decreasing depression symptoms. Knowing well that as humans, we are more sensitive to negative emotions than positive. For instance, we will be miserable if things are taken away from us than if we were to receive a gift. Needless to say that being grateful does not translate into living a modest life with no ambition. On the contrary, gratitude is one of the essential components of self-improvement. It starts with full awareness of what can go wrong, what we can be grateful for, nurture a positive mindset, and build on our skills to reach our goals and progress.
In the meantime, remember:
Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.
You can be isolated, knocked down, lose your reputation or your business, your lover may call it a day, well many things can go wrong, and consequently, you want to crawl under a rock and stay there forever! The truth is that heartbreaks, sufferings, and pain are real and part of life. By acknowledging this fact, you realize that quitting or withdrawing to a dark abyss is not an option unless you want to be part of the extinction club’s honorary member.
Human history proves that positive adaptation, better known as resilience, is part of our survival regardless of our different predispositions or vulnerabilities. We dare to learn and face dire circumstances, pick up the pieces, and triumph. While traumatic experiences shape our resilience, the good news is that this quality can be cultivated.
“Everyone faces up more bravely to a thing for which he has long prepared himself, sufferings, even being withstood if they have been trained for in advance.” – Seneca
What Seneca refers to is your ability to intervene and forge your resilience by conforming to Stoic philosophy. The school of thought encourages thoughtful analysis into the dark web of your fears and agonies by distinguishing between what you can control and what you don’t have control over, even more between the reality and our perception of the situation.
All this considered, whether you are currently experiencing difficult times or have undergone one, whether you are fearful of what the future has in store, employing a stoic strategy helps you cope with the challenges. Begin with picturing the worst that can happen and trust that you are capable of bouncing back from the unthinkable. The idea is preparing yourself to face the unknown and what could go wrong, and the goal is not about being less fearful but building courage. Tapping into your inner strength and to you emplace systems to build up your resilience.
Initially, reflect on your life vision, the kind of life you want to lead, where you want to be in 3 or 5 years, what is the purpose of your existence. Next, write down the significant past experiences that have shaped your emotions to understand where you are in life. For both exercises, go to self-authoring.com and use their online writing programs to explore your past, present, future by gaining a deep understanding of yourself.
Subsequently, consider exerting the following practical efforts recommended by experts in your life strategy and increase your capacity to recover from difficulties:
Develop healthy eating habits and regular exercise to strengthen your overall health and increase the chances of better and faster recovery from injuries or sickness.
Practice forgiveness – Nelson Mandela said: “When I walked out of the gate, I knew that I was still in prison if I continued to hate these people.” Forgiveness is a necessary attitude to build resilience and not an alternative.
Know that there is no guarantee in life (the only guarantee is that we are mortals).
Invest in people and relationships that are supportive and encourage you to get through hard times.
Commit to routines – establish priorities and stay with it even when things are out of control. For instance, mapping your day, being aware of the cost of the wasted time, performing tasks that are integral to your goals will weed out the act of procrastination. As your actions become your habits, you can restrain impulses and become less reliant on motivation and take responsibility to move forward. “Foolish are those who…have no aim to which they can direct every impulse and, indeed, every thought.” – Marcus Aurelius.
Have back up plans
Refrain from putting all your eggs in one basket
Transform your resentment to energy and channel it towards your goals
Clearly, it is rewarding to work with your strengths, yet, the question is, how do you recognize your strengths? When it comes to assessing what you are good at, the understanding can become fuzzy. At this stage, you are at risk of underperforming or be conceited, which is different from being self-confident. Consequently, this state of confusion brings about indecisiveness, which is useful if you tend to it. How? Well:
Uncertainties and doubts raise questions
You will start filling self-analysis exercises
Spotting patterns that suggest your forte
You reach out to pragmatic family, friends, and colleagues to seek feedback
Taking note of what you have learned, you draw a self-portrait and create an action plan to make effective use of your strengths.
Notably, the activity should also include identifying your weaknesses. Upon reflection, recognizing your imperfections and improving on indeed become one of your most vital strengths. Make sure that this self-awareness inspires you and creates a commitment to self-improvement. However, the problem arises if you spend your energy trying to improve your weakness rather than exploring and practicing your strengths once you have uncovered them. J.K Rowling focused solely on her creative mind and writing skills instead of improving her lack of organizational skills. In an interview, she said: “I am one of the most disorganized people in the world and, as I later proved, the worst secretary ever.” For instance, in a sport setting, a soccer coach spots the core strength and ensures that the player is placed in a position to accentuate its power.
It is a known fact that when you use your strengths, you will be happier. The evidence lies in extensive research based on positive psychology interventions. The idea that brings your focus on using your “signature strengths” in a new way. A treatment method or “intentional activities aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviors, or cognitions” (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 468). Hence, if you aim to progress while maintaining and boosting your mental state’s well-being, learn to leverage your strengths to reach your goals. And remember strength is characterized as a trait that:
Makes you stronger
Makes you thrive
It engages you
Notably, it leads you to be in the zone or a flow state – a mental state that keeps you fully involved and feels with joy so that you are entirely absorbed in the activity.
From the humble beginnings of our ancestors writing symbols with a stylus, the flight feathers of geese to fountain pens, and nowadays, digital pen, this instrument “has been mightier than the sword.”An understated elegance that has been used by royalties to change the course of history. By enlightenment figures who shed light on reason and science, by freedom fighters shaping ideas, scientists that changed everything through their theories, by musicians that touch the soul the deepest, or by a hero soldier that seeks hope and solace by penning “remember that I love you.” A symbol of education, dreams, status, power, hope, affinity, unity, consolation, and purpose, a pen channels ideas and feelings to make a difference. Knowing that your words have an impact, protecting and managing your thoughts should not be taken lightly. As it happens to the best of us, our emotional wellbeing can provocatively be ruffled, and we lose perspective. To shield our reactions, we need a reminder, a protective gear that makes us examine the voice and the thoughts in our head before taking any action. For some can be a mantra or taking a walk, but how about a pen holder. Every time you are about to sign an agreement, write a letter of request, a to-do list, or create a vision, a pen holder serving as an amulet will remind your intentions, purpose, and how it all fits in with the common good.
I had the opportunity to interview Carla Martin, to learn about her creations and how she handles challenges. I invite you to read and explore her leather accessories.
Jupilings: Please tell us your story a.k.a. JEANNE.CHAVANY –
Carla MARTIN: I’ve built my background in the fashion industry working as a purchasing manager for several famous houses. My entire journey has started out of necessity. A few years ago, I needed a new handbag. I was looking for something distinctive, something that would make me stand out, and fit my personality. My husband suggested, as a joke, that if I couldn’t find the right handbag, I should create one. I was hooked on this idea, as I have always been in love with leather. From that moment, I got more interested in leather and started to visit tanneries to learn and understand this noble material while surrounding myself with amazingly skilled artisans to make my ideas and designs come true. Thus Jeanne Chavany was born.
Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-
Carla MARTIN: Drawing a self-portrait description might sound “pretentious”, therefore it would be preferable to mention that I have earned a reputation of being ambitious, passionate, generous, and competitive.
Jupilings: How do you describe your brand-
Carla MARTIN: JEANNE.CHAVANY is a cocktail of passion, integrity, boldness, ethics, innovation, and sustainability. A family-owned business, all products are handmade in our workshop in France. Each piece is made to order, unique in its own way. Customers need to pre-order and join the waiting list, it takes time to create the magic with a wait of 10, up to 18, weeks for a handbag to be made. This is one of our answers to reducing waste, whilst having transparency during production by sharing with customers the steps in the handcrafting process. Mass production does not fit our philosophy.
Here at JEANNE.CHAVANY we believe that creating by hand is more meaningful.
If something is beautiful and fair and made without harming people, that object has a spiritual dimension of dignity and appreciation of the work.
We are a Human Brand built on respect for each other. Our customers, partners, and artisans are our biggest assets.
Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of JEANNE.CHAVANY –
Carla MARTIN: We all have a sense of social concern to support charities. It is the ethical importance of our social responsibility.
Philanthropy is not only the ‘right thing to do’ but also strengthens company culture. Helping others and giving back to communities is hugely empowering and rewarding.
From the creation of the brand, I injected all my personal values, principals and ethics. As JEANNE CHAVANY caters to contemporary businesswomen, it was obvious for us to support education. Education is the key to becoming an entrepreneur.
And so it made complete sense to team up with NGO Professors Without Borders, which relates directly to the brand’s values, to support education and empowerment in schools.
Professors Without Borders NGO was founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg, whose mission is to provide free and equal access to quality education to all students, especially women.
Their vision is to create a global community of academics and professionals who want to share their passion for knowledge with students around the world.
Professors Without Borders aims to bridge the educational divide between countries, as well as between students and their teachers. They aspire to halt the brain drain by bringing teachers in rather than taking students out.
In support of this venture, JEANNE.CHAVANY has designed a pen holder aptly named “New Beginnings”. 10% of each purchase will be donated to support empowerment in schools.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.
Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual to help you de-stress-
Carla MARTIN: What creates stress during the day, is that we try hard to find a balance between work, life, and family and this requires discipline and organization.
My daily ritual: I look after my mind through study, after my soul through meditation and prayer, then I focus all my attention on work.
Jupilings: The best piece of advice you have been given-
Carla MARTIN: Time flies by so fast, use it wisely as we do not have a second chance/life.
Jupilings: What challenges did you face when you were starting your business? 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome them-
Carla MARTIN: Starting and creating a business from scratch is an “up and down” journey. I call it a roller-coaster. Beware to those who are afraid of high adrenaline. The challenges are multiple: from finding skilled artisans to the supply chain, sales and production, from marketing to communication … we face challenges every single day. Some are easier to deal with, some are more complicated. And the more difficult it gets, the more I enjoy it as this requires mind-stretching, looking at situations from different perspectives and trying new things. I am a “scientist” who changes the “formula” again and again and again until it works. If it would be easy, it would be too easy.
Jupilings: 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome challenges-
Carla MARTIN: This is a tough question as it depends on so many criteria. Entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a long journey and its secret lies in the mindset. It is crucial to continuously push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and grow from both personal and professional perspectives.
I would say:
Patience: overnight success does not exist.
Become the best version of yourself
Believe in yourself as the way up to the top is a lonely and often painful journey.
Jupilings: How do you motivate yourself-
Carla MARTIN:“Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice” Wayne Dyer.
On any journey, there are times of joy that make me feel like I can accomplish anything, which gives me strength and motivation to move forward, but also moments of hesitation, of doubts, of negative feelings and emotions that could easily take over. It’s simply human nature.
Never wait for motivation to get started. So I have created some “strategies” that work well for me:
Work out for at least one hour. This will give me a lot of energy, good vibes, and endorphins.
Listen to favourite music
Reward me with a nice and delicious meal
Meditate and express my gratitude for what I got.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
Carla MARTIN: My way of getting through obstacles firstly is to start by acknowledging that they’re there, to be honest to myself. To put me back on track all I need to do is to remind myself why I started and what lit the fire…I am very fortunate to do what I love and I do it with passion, this simplifies the situation.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
Carla MARTIN: There are so many amazing people out there who do and achieve so much in their lives. I look up to them with admiration as they inspire me so much. People like Melinda Gates,Michelle Obama, Lady Diana,Greta Thunberg, Nelson Mandela, Sheryl Sandberg,Serena Williams … just to name a few. If I had to choose only one name, this person would be Leonardo Da Vinci. He does not only inspire me but fascinates me. I would love to travel back in time to meet this genius and discover the “anatomy” of his creativity …
Jupilings: Tips on building resilience-
Carla MARTIN: There is no magic formula. Just be positive, be optimistic, be kind to yourself. And take action.
Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-
Carla MARTIN: Most of the subjects are well covered by media. To answer your question I would say; Education, Education, Education.
“Education is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams”. Nita Ambani
Jupilings: What is your life motto:
Carla MARTIN: Well, I do not have a motto on which my life should be lived or built around. It is more like a personal philosophy: believe in myself, I am curious about everything in life; also dedicated and very patient, never rush the process of “creation”.
Imagine walking to the deep end of your subconscious and learn about your true desires. Imagine reaching your highest level of awareness. Imagine an extraordinary experience that explores your resilience which flows through the self-imposed boundaries of the intellect. Feel the sensation of the current of your own agency to revive your strength and the superhero within you. Skillfully, this journey is depicted by Antonio Mora. He leads you to discover your absurd, somber, or brave emotions through self-reflective imagery which captures your cognitive clarity to get closer to yourself.
Antonio Mora, a surreal creative and art director, frames the mystery of our pursuit in life and the endless possibilities of our being in an uncompromising artistic narrative. Patching emotions of cultural impressions to the advent of modern life and crushing the overprotective surrogate inner-self to the extent that fantasy becomes a tangible reality is what Antonio Mora offers.
He studied psychology and philology, later completing his training with a Master of Art in Graphic Design and creatively continues to encourage self-reflection and deliberation to summon up the courage to connect with oneself. I had the opportunity to interview him, one of the most expressive artists of the present time, to learn about him and his spirit:
Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-
AM: I have always been a creative person. For more than 25 years I have worked as a graphic designer and art director in my own design studio.
In 2011, after a serious physical crisis, I decided to give free rein to my own creative desires and to leave the work commissioned by clients. I had no options after that long and hard process, so I decided to put all the meat in the grill, overcome my fears and trust in my vision. That’s how I came to this.
Jupilings: Who are your protagonists-
AM: I want to believe that my protagonists are the hybrid beings that appear in our dreams, inhabitants of a parallel world that we only access either during deep sleep or through the use of psychotropic substances, and that nevertheless, we perceive them as coming, like a déjà vu that reminds us that there is more to reality than what we perceive with our physical senses.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-
AM: I think that throughout my work emerges a certain mystical, mythological sense in the classical sense, where the forces of nature take on a human form. Many titles are The Young Zeus, the Cyclops, Nymph, Persephone, Caribdis, Aquarida.
Nature as a soul-endowed force that, when transmuted in person, brings us closer to it. My portraits are often portraits of gods or heroes that we could have been.
Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder-
AM: Although there are innumerable ways of understanding it, I conceive art in the classical sense, the search for intrinsic truth for beauty. In a society like the current one where through social networks we see tons of ugliness, trash, and injustice, my modest contribution is to create beauty that inspires others and that raises a wall against the mediocrity and vulgarity that invades us. I think that is my duty as an artist.
Jupilings: “Creative people are an idealist and live a colourful and chaotic life”, what do you think of this statement-
AM: It is a generality and as such susceptible to be interpreted in different ways but in my case, it is correct, although the colour is sometimes of a rather dark hue, and indeed the chaos is a constant in my life, I am messy, often imprecise and erratic. I wrote a long time ago that the artist feels himself with stupor as if he should not be there, as if he were not part of the reality in which the whole world lives. I thought it was a gift and it turned out to be a condemnation, once said an artist friend, my mentor, who died, unfortunately. Someone like him, chaotic by nature, knew how to inspire in me, and in many others (he was an art teacher) that life and therefore beauty arise from chaos.
Jupilings: As a creative individual, you have a reflective nature, hence you are inclined to dive deeper into your fears, insecurities, or setbacks, where do you draw a line to stop and regain your sense of motivation and meaning in life to keep charging ahead? What is your coping mechanism, a routine, a friend, ….?-
AM: My mechanism is the constant creation, the progressive approach through creative work to the idea that I intend to bring to light. This, which often produces a feeling of ecstasy, also in many cases generates enormous anguish. To shake it off, fortunately, is my wife, my children, my dogs, who walk daily through the palm groves that surround my atelier in Elche (Spain).
It relaxes me to cook, to drink wine with my friends. Fortunately, very close to where I live, is the sea and a small and beautiful island where I go very often. As soon as I reach her, my anguish dissipates. In short, my life is the life of a normal person, or at least as normal as my nature allows me to be.
Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience:
AM: Hahaha, that question could put me in a compromise. When I was 18 years old I tried LSD, since then my perspective on the world changed. I perceived that there were parallel worlds. No, of course, I did not take it for a long time, it scares me. However, I do allow myself to smoke some marijuana when I am faced with a creative process. It is the key through which I can reopen that door that opened in my youth.
Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-
AM: It jumps to the sight that I am an admirer of the woman, of the power of the woman, of its beauty. More than 90% of my portraits have women as protagonists. As a creator of life and a source of inspiration. I wrote once that the passion of the woman is the force that moves the world, I continue to subscribe. I am sure that the world would work much better if it were the women who governed it.
Jupilings: When you start a creative project, how do you overcome self-doubt –
AM: Fortunately, I have a lot of experience and many years of preparation that allow me to save the initial doubts with a certain ease. However, that doubt always lurks, especially if I will be able to generate something really new and not copy myself.
I receive many custom orders. There yes, the doubts begin, since not only I have to satisfy myself but to manage to transmit my satisfaction to the client and that is not an easy task.
Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why-
AM: I would be Lucidman. Always able to have immediately the creative response at hand that would allow me to disturb the conscience of others.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor-
At times, we form an opinion or conclude, deliberately or otherwise, only to find out that the story in our head is polluted. By judging, we work hard to build a wall and to protect ourselves and live securely. The problem with this stance in life is that it often prevents us from making meaningful and genuine connections with oneself and others. Although judging is an instinct, you can be aware of it and control your impulses. When you adopt a mindful outlook, you embark on the intelligence and wisdom track. The non-judging approach is the protective gear that will support you against unsound decisions and irrational reactions in life. Releasing judgment is stepping over self-made barriers to see and grasp “things as they are.”
The myths and sensationalized stories are good examples of our preconceived judgments. Overall, the side effects of judgments such as fear or condemning bad and good categories in our mental descriptions create prejudices, biases, and stress. The habit of categorizing is useful for filing systems, but when it comes to our life relations and connections at times, it limits our perspective and growth.
How to remove the obstructive judgemental attitude?
Be mindful- Recognize the judgments that unfold whether you are performing a task or when you are in fight-flight mode. Observe how your mind describes the situation: as mundane, suspicious, energetic, or any other attribute that influences your behavior or reaction to that particular circumstance. For instance, to observe our judgemental mind, practice breathing. Set a time and start paying attention to your breath, and indeed, your oblivious mind will begin harassing you by labeling your practice as boring. Basically, the approach is not to suppress your judgment but to be aware of it.
Don’t take it personally – I remember that when our son started high-school, the amazing principal recommended that as the parents of young teenagers, do not take their withdrawn behavior and uncommunicative reactions personally. Instead, be continuously loving, caring, and have a set framework of rules. Don’t snoop; they will eventually talk to you and tell you all about their adventure but on their own time. It was great advice, one that kept the peace. Or, as adults, it happens that you will encounter disagreements. As long as you remember that the conflict is not about you, it helps to detach the “me” connection and give others the benefit of the doubt.
rame – This approach is about not changing the facts but having an open mind to recognize that people have different ways of doing things or different perspectives. Instead of getting angry or miserable, channel your energy to pause and reflect. The challenge is to dive underneath the anger, and your oxygen tank is your ability to reframe. With regular practice, the efforts to reframe a situation become a habit, immensely rewarding, especially when you encounter setbacks. Reframing a problematic situation or dire circumstance allows you to transform the problems into possibilities and remain healthy, composed with a positive mindset.
Self-reflection – As soon as you start judging, try to ask yourself whether you have had the same or similar behaviour.
Don’t blame yourself or others- As much as the blame game is an easy defense mechanism, indeed, it is unproductive and unpleasant. The tendency to distort our self-esteem with blame is inept. Instead, see things as they are, and break away from blaming yourself or others. Again reframe the situation, replace words such as should to could or losses to learning experiences to make a pathway for much better opportunities.
Be a friend to yourself – Connect with your strength, intelligence, and love yourself. Dismiss negative thoughts and destructive criticism. When you stop judging, you will distance yourself from gauging others and assume an impartial approach in life. One that helps with mastering your mind.
A public space that unfolds the nodes and nuances of our souls and desires and satisfies our safety and care requires a dazzling and utopian thinker: one that is observant, innovative, and is genuinely attentive to public behavior, social pleasures, and thoughtful relationships. Driven by excellence, Alessandro Munge, the founder of Toronto-based Studio Munge, adheres to these principles and elements to craft harmoniously unique visual stories that transform a space into becoming the “it” destination.
Dubbed as the Interior Designer of the year 2018, Alessandro Munge differentiates his creations by understanding observable behaviors and cultural inclinations. With an impressive roster of international clients, especially in the hospitality realm, Studio Munge evokes sophistication and beauty.
AM: A naturally intuitive creative who cherishes authentic experiences through design.
Jupilings: How do you challenge yourself with every new project-
AM: I challenge myself with every new project by starting with a completely blank slate. Rather than following one formula or repurposing the same elements and concepts, I look at what we’ve done before, and push myself to form something completely different and new.
Jupilings: It is quite challenging to work on projects on the other side of the world, do you have ground rules on managing expectations that can be applied universally-
AM: No matter the country, area code, language or time zone, effective communication is detrimental to executing a project successfully. We always take the extra time necessary to have weekly or daily briefings to ensure everyone involved is working towards realistic timelines and a clear vision. From international site visits to long conference calls, our expert project management team has been key in managing expectations. Their expansive design and construction knowledge as well as their constant dialogue with contractors, suppliers, and clients helps us monitor progress and ensures the holistic execution of our design intent.
Jupilings: People, tastes, preferences… change, so what significant principles in your world of design are applied to make things and create concepts that are durable and time-tested-
AM: Our work is consistently concept-driven and developed around the emotional response we envision our end-users to experience within our spaces. Emotions are universal and timeless; they are not limited to trendy colours, finishes or forms. Whether our spaces align with your preferences or specific tastes, they will connect with you on a deeper level withstanding the test of time.
Jupilings: How do you motivate people working for you-
AM: Without the dedication of our almost 60 employees, Studio Munge would not be the dynamic force we are today. I want each member of that team to feel as excited to come into the studio as I do! Motivating every employee comes from leading by example, encouraging individuals to see their own potential while challenging their limitations, and building an inclusive, collaborative and inspiring work environment. Giving back and participating in events together fuels the fire; to name a few activities, we have shared lunches and engage with our community at design-centric events.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
AM: Setbacks are an inevitable part of life. What’s important is how you prepare for, react to, and learn from them; it can make or break you. When dealing with the unexpected, remaining calm and collected as well as optimistic is crucial. It allows you to focus on the most effective and efficient solutions without compromising the design intent.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
AM: For me, inspiration doesn’t come from one specific source. From one moment to the next, I’m inspired by new things and experiences all around me. These sparks of intrigue happen organically anytime anywhere I wander, like rough stone textures or the grooves in the sand made by the ocean tide. I’ve started to document more of those textures and moments on my own Instagram. It’s my way of keeping it all in one space and sharing those precious flashes of inspiration with my friends and community.
Jupilings: What is your signature personal style?
AM: My Italian roots and love for fashion and art play a huge part in my personal style. I like to keep things relaxed, clean, elevated and effortless. I love sneakers and detailed basics that are minimal with an edge.
Gone are the days when female travel adventurers had to bond her breasts with linen bandages or step into her machismo and disguise as Ferdinand Magellan to explore the wildlands. Mutually, willing to take new chances and cultivate compassion by learning from diversity is not limited to genderless, male, female, or other preferred sexual identities. That being so, experiencing unfamiliar exclusivity is a privilege for an array of individuals and never ceases to be cool.
A luxury traveler embraces uniqueness, recognition, attention, and is motivated to indulge in an unforgettable experience knowing that it will improve the lives of inhabitants of the destinations. South Africa, the oasis of glittering sea, craggy mountains, wildlife encounters, and luxury wellness with a holistic experience offers the sophisticated traveler the opulence of self-reflection and the external splendors of connectivity to the surroundings.
South Africa is a canvas of spectacular landscapes, best safari destination, a multicultural nation, rainbow cuisine, seductive wines, and notably turbulent history transformed by hope and “ubuntu” qualities of compassion, forgiveness, and humanity to build a just and caring society.
Jupilings: What set you off on your entrepreneurial venture-
LB: I began the Royal Portfolio at age fifty when I sold my fashion business. I retired for two days and then made a proposal to my husband that I was going to convert our holiday homes into private hotels. We were very fortunate to have a beautiful place in the African bush. We wanted to share all of our incredible memories and experiences with others, and so we decided to convert our family home into a luxurious lodge which is now Royal Malewane. We then did the same to Birkenhead House which had been our beach house for twelve years, and La Residence which was our smallholding in Franschhoek. We spent many years looking for the perfect spot in Cape Town and were thrilled when the opportunity at The Silo came along. It completed our circuit around South Africa. Since then we haven’t looked back and have continued to share more unique South African experiences with our guests, our friends and our growing family.
Jupilings: You style and design every room, what are the elements that you consider when you start the process to create a relaxing and joyful environment-
LB: The ultimate goal is to provide our guests with beautiful, comfortable and exciting interiors. I want our guests to leave with an extremely positive view of our beautiful country and to return home as advocates of South Africa. I love to promote our local creative talent to the international travellers staying at each of our wonderful properties. I like our properties to be timeless and to stay true to the iconic destinations in which they are located. The destination-specific design is a key part of the guest experience. Every room is different, and each space is unique. I first need to get a feel for space – to spend time in the space and watch space and light evolve throughout the day. I tend to start by introducing a piece of furniture, fabric, carpet, or painting into space. Something that I love or that has really caught my eye. One of these items will then guide the subsequent design process, and the room will take shape from there. I love to mix things up – to place something serious next to something fanciful, something new next to something old and something expressive next to something more muted. I also love art. Art is what really brings the space to life and gives it personality. However, for me, the key is the comfort. Our guests need to be able to enjoy space and to feel as if they are at home. Not like they are in a museum.
Jupilings: What does luxury mean to you-
LB: For me, luxury means providing value and superior, personalised service, and creating unique experiences for our guests. Increasingly, guests are looking for special moments to share with their loved ones, and so it’s up to us to create and offer those exceptional experiences at each of our hotels. Luxury means comfort and the opportunity to share breath-taking experiences with family and friends.
Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-
LB: I believe one of the most important factors in building up and maintaining a successful brand is to consistently engage with it, ensuring that it is nothing but the best it can possibly be. For a luxury travel brand and hotel group, this is particularly important. I try to stay at our properties as much as possible. By being present and experiencing what our guests experience, I can actively ensure that the service and guest experience continues to improve, adapt, and stays consistent throughout our portfolio. Understanding our guests and their needs is critical. Also, I believe that our hotels should constantly evolve and improve – we need fresh ideas to keep things exciting. This could be something as simple as mixing up the artwork in a room or reupholstering a lovely chair with a beautiful new fabric.
Jupilings: Please tell us about your Foundation-
LB: Uplifting local communities, promoting conservation and protecting the environment are core company values of The Royal Portfolio. I believe that this is an intrinsic part of doing business in Africa. We’ve just established The Royal Portfolio Foundation which will formally address these core company values and ensure we are doing our part in giving back. Each property has various programmes aimed at uplifting local communities and protecting the environment. Giving back is an intrinsic part of doing business in Africa. It is also essential that we use our properties to promote South Africa as a beautiful destination for travellers to visit from all corners of the world. Tourism has such a positive impact on our country, so it’s important that we market the destination together with our properties.
Jupilings: Is it true that you mostly collect African contemporary art? What is the local art scene currently about? Do you have a personal methodology regarding the selection of the art-
LB: Art has always been something we are interested in and remains a big part of all of The Royal Portfolio’s properties. In keeping with our neighbour, Zeitz MOCAA, The Silo Hotel houses its very own collection of contemporary African art. While a significant portion of the art, furniture and ornaments found throughout our hotels are unique to Africa, I do occasionally source a specific piece from overseas. However, I always prefer to get my inspiration from something I see on my travels and have it made locally – it’s so important that we use local companies and give back to the local communities through supporting various companies and the African art scene. If there’s something that catches my eye and I can picture it in one of our beautiful hotels, I’ll do my best to get my hands on it and support the artist.
Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-
LB: If you’re looking to get into the tourism industry, it’s best to get your foot in the door somehow and then do your best to meet and connect with people in the industry to build long-lasting, healthy relationships.
Jupilings: Please share five tips to tap into one’s potential to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations-
LB: Find your passion and run with it! Don’t let anyone tell you your passion is not worthy of chasing. Your passion is yours, own it. Be true to yourself, and create something that is authentic to your passions. Follow your dreams, and the rest will fall into place. Perseverance is key! Nothing will ever be easy, and there will always be hardships and downfalls. If you can stay optimistic in the face of failure, you will continue to learn and refine your entrepreneurial finesse. It’s also fine if you don’t know what you want to do, or what your passion is. What matters is that you start working on something, and keep moving forward. Grab every opportunity that comes your way, and you’ll be amazed and what you’ll learn. Try not to focus on the end goal in mind too much, or to have a rigid plan. Stay fluid in your outcome and be open to change and suggestions. In today’s world it’s important to be adaptable and to be able to pivot in a new direction should the need arise. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your goals when things get difficult; it just means you need to be able to adapt and nurture a propensity to stay proactive in your entrepreneurial journey. Don’t become bogged down or despondent when things don’t go according to plan!
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
LB: I believe that every cloud has a silver lining and I always look at what I can learn from the setback. If I’m feeling let down about a setback, I always try reason that it’s not so bad. That I am such a lucky person and need to carry on moving forward.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
LB: Nature. The colours, sounds, textures and abundance of life are so inspirational.
Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-
LB: Increasingly so, women around the world are moving into high powered positions. Many women in the Western World now have great freedoms which I hope will soon permeate into every corner of our world.
Jupilings: What is your life motto:
LB: Life is an incredible, beautiful gift, and one that you should make the most of every day.