Beware: This Studio are Raising an Army of Micro-portraits

Independent studio Mother Volcano were given a brief: to represent online shoppers as dot-sized and mobile avatars for a client’s project. But the miniatures were a huge success, and so they decided that Polka Folks couldn’t die. Polka Folks, stylised micro-portraits representing people in a scant handful of shapes and colours,is the spin-off project that’s taken on a life of its own, with an Instagram account for the family that won’t stop growing.

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Other Volcano are a Portugal-based independent design studio with a diverse roster of big-name clients, from Samsung, to Ebay, to YouTube. Composed of a multi-skilled team of illustrators with an eye on connecting people in an increasingly tech-driven social world, the Polka Folks are for Mother Volcano a perfect embodiment of their (digital) face-to- (digital) face focus.

Now Polka Folks are loose on the web, with an identity of their own. Fun, creative, and more than a little mischievous – and that’s just Mother Volcano – we wanted to get tips from the team on this new brand of portraiture.

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THE PLUS: What makes a good micro-portrait?
Mother Volcano:
Good question. We usually know one when we see it. Generally that happens when we manage to give them expression and personality with just a few strokes and shapes.

TP: You’ve been going a while now – have the experiments in character had to get more outlandish?
There’s still lots of room for the project to grow without repeating ourselves. Almost every week we have new ideas and sketches for the Polka Folks.

TP: So the possibilities are endless?
The only limitation here is time, as this is a self-starting project we do on our downtime, or just to have some fun.

TP: What’s your biggest inspiration for the project?
It was the brief a client gave us that got us started: how to represent online shoppers browsing and clicking. Our answer was to merge the mouse cursor with the user so they become a  free roaming clicking arrow on the cyberspace. From there it was almost a natural evolution.

TP: What’s your best tip for budding illustrators?
Get out of your little cabin in the woods and team up with other people. There’s an amazing new world taking shape.

TP: Something for each of the team: if you weren’t an illustrator, what and where would you each be?
Joana: Fashion Designer @ Own label
Miguel: Mechanical Engineer @ Electro Harmonix
Nina: Ethologist @ Med Wolf
Mag: Biologist @ Out there in space
Rami: Astronomer @ NASA
Edo: Architect @ Anywhere

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