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The Heroine’s Journey of Maria Montes

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

The flexibility and freedom that comes with being my own boss.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness means being surrounded by close friends, laughing, dancing and being one hundred percent present in the moment.

What is my greatest fear?

Getting sick, followed by professional success.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

My lack of confidence in certain situations.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

All creative women who came before me, who didn’t find representation in the industry but kept showing up and working in the dark. Thanks to those quiet ones, we are all here today, raising our female voice and fighting for women’s rights, gender equality and inclusion.

On what occasion would I lie?

I would lie to protect someone’s life.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

The financial instability, although I am fully aware that this is a counterpart of what I like the most, which is the freedom of being a full-time freelancer. So, if I have to choose between financial stability and freedom, I would go for the latter one.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

This year at my second museum solo exhibition in Spain.

I have been a digital graphic designer for nineteen years. My artistic solo career only started in 2014. Seeing my work displayed in a museum —across nine walls and over eighty pieces— made me feel extremely grateful of all the hard work and sacrifices I have been through.

In my university years, we constantly learned about artists who never saw their work being recognised while they were alive, so reaching a point in my career where two big museum exhibitions have come my way, made me feel the happiest and proudest inside.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would like to speak many more languages including French, Arabic and Japanese. I would love to learn how to push fear out of my way.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

So far, my greatest professional achievement has been publishing independently a display chromatic font family called Green Fairy.

This project has been possible thanks to my core values of never stop learning and telling myself that giving up is not an option.

Where would I most like to live?

I’ve been in Melbourne for the past nine years and I’m extremely happy here. I work at Rotson Studios, a co-working space which my partner opened six years ago. The studio has become a very important part of my life and some of the people who I work with, have become my closest friends.

If I had to move from Melbourne, my next top three destinations would be New York, Amsterdam and Berlin. I have been in these cities several times in the past and in all of them I have dear friends who occupy and big space in my heart.

What is my most treasured possession?

A blue vintage cabinet I have in my living room storing many of my original artworks.

What is my most marked characteristic?

Humour. I like to use humour to connect deeper with people.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

Rotson Studios where I work, followed by any natural environment.

Since I live in Australia, nature has become a huge part of my life, making me reflect on important matters such as climate change, green sustainability and ecology.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

When I visited Melbourne for the first time, I went to Black Cat in Fitzroy, and this location made me fall in love with the city.

I feel really spoilt in Melbourne as this city is a gastronomic mecca. We have food from anywhere in the world and people love talking about their favourite cafes and restaurants. I don’t have one single favourite per se, but I definitely have one restaurant in my wish list for a very long time called The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld.

What books influenced my life and how?

While at high school, I read “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse and it had a great impact in my life. Thanks to this book I felt in love with philosophy.

During my university years, I read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera and this book stayed with me for a long.

In my late twenties I read “Clara y la penumbra” (The Art of Murder) by José Carlos Somoza.

and I loved it. I am huge fan of science fiction and this book ticked many boxes for me.

Recently, I have read “The Barefoot Investor” by Scott Pape and it has totally changed the way I manage my own finances. I very much recommend it, especially if you live in Australia.

Who are my favourite writers?

I have read pretty much every single book written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Ellen Louise Ripley, the warrant officer aboard the Nostromo from the film Alien.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My aunt Celia has always been a role model for me. She is extremely generous, hard worker and full of love; plus she always carries a big smile on her face.

My friend Roso Cortada has taught me what resilience feels like. She is a powerhouse woman full of strength and love.

My friend Lara Captan has taught me about generosity and vision.

My parents have taught me about unconditional love.

My grandmother taught me what fashion, style and good taste looks like.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Art plays a huge part in my life. Art is the reason why I am a creative.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My partner Rob. He has taught me how to dream big and to believe in myself. Thanks to his unconditional support for the last eleven years, I am where I am today.

Whom would I like to work with in 2020?

I would love to keep collaborating with Inaria Design Luxury Group, as they are one of my top dream clients.

I would love to work with other high-end design agencies crafting identity systems and emotionally charged visual languages involving custom type, logotypes, lettering, illustration, patterning, packaging design, collateral, and digital assets, among other crafts.

I would love to upsize my work and paint a few big murals.

I would love to design a scarf for Hermes.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2020?

I would love to meet Jessica Hische, Jessica Walsh, Sheila and Julian Waters and Ken Barber.

What project, in 2020, am I looking forward to work on?

I’m looking forward to starting a project with Mark Hayley from Design by Athlete.

I’m planning a trip to Baltimore to study alongside Sheila and Julian Waters.

I’m dreaming with Typographics 2020 and catching up with Troy Leinster, Hannes Famira and Cara Di Edwardo.

Where can you see me or my work in 2020?

You can find plenty of examples of my work on my website and Instagram.

You can learn more about my personal and professional trajectory in the links below:

Keynote speaker at Typism 2017;

Keynote speaker at The Design Conferece 2018;

Live streaming interview at Adobe France 2019;

Keynote speaker at TypeParis 2019.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

Passion is my fuel. It wakes me up early in the morning and keeps me at work late at night. Passion and emotion is what my life and my work are driven by.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Laura Meseguer, Danielle Brodie, Lauren Vilitati, Teagan Glenane and Rebecca Sharrock.

How can you contact me?

Say Hola! at info@mariamontes.net


This interview was published on The Heroine’s Journey Website by Peter De Kuster.