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?
MV:
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?
MV:
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?
MV:
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?
MV:
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

ALIEN:
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EMO:
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NERD:
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PUNK:
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VIKINGS:
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