Sweetness, intensity, curiosity. BA Graphic Design graduate Alice Caiado seems to have made of these innate features of hers the very principles to which she sticks while designing, illustrating and filming. Her final project ‘The Book of Worries’ with which she left Central Saint Martins in 2016 surely encapsulates at best this powerful mixture of qualities, harmonized through creativity. Everything started with the question: “I wonder what people worry about all the time?” and ended up as a succession of bittersweet black truths on light pink pages. ‘The Book of Worries’ is an ode to genuineness; is it the place where people could anonymously and finally be spontaneous and honest. And we should thank Alice for this. Also inspired by animation movies, Kubrickian landscapes and poetry, Alice’s world gets under your skin through an accurate use of both abstraction and reflection.
“It seems to me that no matter how convenient our lives have become, we will never rest, and our minds will always find new fears.”
How would you describe your experience at Central Saint Martins?
The last three years at Central Saint Martins felt like ten. I feel like another person completely, and I guess that shows what an amazing place it is. Change came everyday there. I feel that in society nowadays there’s a bit of a prejudgement around ‘change’, around new things. At CSM I went from being a teenager to being an adult. After every project, every talk with a tutor, every book I read, every exhibition I went to, I changed so much. That was a bit scary at times and it was hard to handle growing up, and studying at a place where people are so incredibly talented. Sometimes it felt that I was alone in the ‘very confused about life’ department. And that was a bit hard. I’m very sensitive and I over-analyse everything, and sometimes it was hard to be productive as an artist when I felt that I was wanting something different out of life everyday. However, at CSM I became more grounded. Growing up, I felt a bit different from people, I lived in my own little world. What is great about CSM is that they encourage the different, the new. Quoting Ratatouille, one of my favourite films, “the world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends”. I couldn’t agree more.
What did your final project ‘The Book of Worries’ teach you?
It taught me to trust myself more. In the last few months before graduating, I was boiling with anxiety. The idea for the book came from an urgency to put out feelings that had been building up for years. It was just a little idea, and even though the book was a collection of other people’s worries as well, it felt incredibly personal. It seems to me that no matter how convenient our lives have become, we will never rest, and our minds will always find new fears.
How important was the creative process behind it?
I tried not to overthink the visual part of the project. It’s such a personal book and it felt right to just go with what popped into my mind, and be as intuitive as possible. Some worries were so funny, and others so serious, I just had to put them together in a narrative, and design it to make it humorous, and lighthearted.
“For young people nowadays, there is a constant pressure to be successful, to be a little genius, to know all computer software, to be a multidisciplinary machine, to be super sociable all the time, to be beautiful, to be the best version of ourselves.”
What role does honesty have in your work?
Being honest is very liberating, and it gives you confidence. I’m a bit shy and at CSM I learned that I could open up through my work, it could speak for me.
Do you think nowadays there is a need for more honesty?
Honesty is an act of resistance, in a world that so often makes people hide who they really are. Now, more than ever.
In the survey many worries concerning appearance, loneliness and social anxieties appear: do you feel that these issues represent the fears of an entire generation?
Absolutely. We’re part of a generation that is so oriented by appearance, and everything seems a bit plastic sometimes. I feel that for young people nowadays, there is a constant pressure to be successful, to be a little genius, to know all computer software, to be a multidisciplinary machine, to be super sociable all the time, to be beautiful, to be the best version of ourselves. I found it incredibly hard to grow up, become who I am, AND do all that at the same time. It’s okay to lose, to cry, to have cellulite. This aspiration to be perfect is toxic. Our generation can do so much, go to so many places, we have it so much easier than our parents! We need to wake up, realise that not everyone has a Victoria’s Secret model’s body, move on, and be happy.
Is irony an effective communication medium for you?
Irony gives us freedom, we become free to look at something serious and laugh about it. And humour teaches us to take things less seriously, it’s a reminder that there’s always more than one way to look at things. In the end, I think being able to see the good in things is what makes life worth living. Being honest, and capable of laughing is the best help we can give ourselves.
“It’s okay to lose, to cry, to have cellulite. This aspiration to be perfect is toxic.”
Which is your favourite means of communication?
Photography and writing. Drawing as well, but it’s still a new thing for me. And film!
In your work there is a recurring image of an astronaut: what does it symbolise to you?
Space is a subject that always intrigued me so much. Growing up I can remember watching documentaries about the universe, and the greatness of it had such an effect on me. It always helped me to be optimistic, and be curious about life. The thought that we’re such a small part of something so big, made me worry less about little things. To me, astronauts symbolise something beautiful. There’s something so fascinating about a person leaving earth in search of something more, knowing that going further could mean not going back. There is a stigma to the idea of things ending, but I think there is a greater good in the cycle of life. Endings signify that something was lived, and that something new can come after it is gone. I think that’s very beautiful. Knowing that everything ends is what gives us the drive to make the most of the time we have.
Is loneliness fundamental for inspiration?
Loneliness is an inspiration because it is so personal. It gets you in contact with yourself. It’s you, and you. There’s more transparency, you get to know yourself more and the more you know yourself, the clearer your work becomes to others. Loneliness is a bridge, it’s a whole universe.
Most of your videos are accompanied by recited poems or monologues: are words as important as images?
Words and images feed each other. Things are so big sometimes and putting the two together makes them more tangible. I liked to mix monologues and images made in different times, and that have different meanings on their own. Combining pieces that are completely unrelated are great, because you get to see how they are actually similar. Things are more connected than we think.
“Endings signify that something was lived, and that something new can come after it is gone. I think that’s very beautiful. Knowing that everything ends is what gives us the drive to make the most of the time we have.”
Collages or sketches?
Serif or sans – serif?
Sans – serif.
Looney Tunes or 2001: A Space Odyssey?
All the love in the world to Kubrick’s work, but I’ll have to say Looney tunes. Cartoons have so much meaning
Do you have any plans for the future? Dreams?
Travel as much as I can, and I hope to work in filmmaking and animation. I feel that most of what I’ve learned came from my love for movies. It would be the most fulfilling thing for me to be able to give something back.
Words by Carolina Davalli
All images courtesy of Alice Caiado