Member of the month - Alfamarama - The Interview

This month we have Alfamarama in the "Member of the Month" series.
Have you come across one of is mugs or notebooks?
If not, take a look now, you wont regret it!

Enjoy. :)

Notebooksby Alfamarama

Name: Pedro Vieira
Etsy shop:

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Pedro. I am an architect and designer from Lisbon. I currently live in London, where I work freelance from home while investing most of the rest of my time and energy on Alfamarama… and eating biscuits! 

Pedro Vieira aka Alfamarama

I like the beauty of simple things, bold design, concepts that make me smile… and biscuits. I love travelling, the beach, people watching, lovely food, long walks and spending time with my partner, family and friends. I’m thinking of getting a dog.

2. How and when was this creative passion born? 
I have always liked to create things ever since I was a kid. I knew I wanted to work in designing things and architecture and exhibition design were my first choice. It was great for a while but I soon started to yearn for something more hands-on and less time-consuming; something that allowed me more freedom and where the results were quick and would reflect my own ideas rather than a mishmash of those of clients, bosses, contractors, budget managers, etc.
Studio view

 3. Did you study for it or for something completely different?
I trained as an architect and worked in offices for years in Lisbon and Tokyo, constantly submerged in CAD, 3D models, detailing and impossible deadlines. It took me a while before I plucked up the courage to have a go at creating my own products. But enrolling on some Illustrator and Screen printing courses really did open a new world of freedom and possibilities that I had never even considered before.

4. Is this your full-time job or do you have another job?
It has only been a year since Alfamarama was launched and I would love it to become my full-time job sometime soon. I’m working on it and it is growing slowly but steadily. For now I also work on some other jobs in architecture, translation and property management. It is actually quite interesting to work in so many different things and having all kinds of tasks to do. It can be very demanding and chaotic but there is always something new to be learned.

5. How did this project start?
When I stopped working at architecture offices I suddenly had some time to explore my creativity and make things. I decided to train on illustrator, Photoshop and Screen printing and started coming up with ideas for products and designs. I decided to go for it and test the market by selling them on Etsy to see how it went. It started with mugs and later with screen prints. It went so well I decided to add notebooks and cards. Soon there will be more things on sale as there are always some new ideas at the back of my mind!

Coffee mugsby Alfamarama

6. What inspires you?
I am very visual and therefore get inspired mostly by things I see. Ideas can pop up on the street, reading a magazine, visiting somewhere interesting, but also just from a conversation, something someone says that triggers me to connect two things in an interesting way. Etsy and markets are also a constant inspiration. On one hand you can see all kinds of things other people are creating but you can also just listen to what people have to say about your products. That feedback can also be very inspiring.

7. How do you choose your materials? And where do you find them?
My designs are normally quite simple so materials and detail are of upmost importance. I try to use the best possible materials that guarantee great quality and a special feel. For example, my mugs are of good quality, the notebooks I screen print on are Moleskine notebooks, which not only look great but are well made, sturdy and practical. For my cards I use thick Fabriano textured paper to add that warm texture and unique hand-made feel.

Greeting Cardsby Alfamarama

8. Could you share a typical work day?
I never have anything like a typical day. Most of the time there are millions of small things that need to be done so I just manage my time juggling different tasks along the day and having a drink or a short walk at some point to get fresh air. Most of the time I am quite happy with the freedom I have to organise my day. I spend a lot of time on the computer in the morning, dealing with emails, convos, sales and promoting Alfamarama through Treasuries and its Facebook page. Everyday I try to improve something on my shop either by introducing new products, arranging things differently, tweaking pictures, updating tags or changing prices.

In the afternoon I work on my other projects and after I’m done with work I try to go out and meet a friend for a drink or go for a long walk along the Thames to get some inspiration from the fantastic energy and diversity of London!

9. What is your favorite part of your work and work tool? Why?
I love my screen printing days. It can be stressful and very messy but in the end you always come home with brand new things to sell and that feeling of mission accomplished. My favourite tool is my screen printing screen, I’m always amazed how something so simple can create so many different things. My second favourite tool is my Mac and last but not least I am an Etsy treasury afficionado, which is an important marketing tool. Not only that, I do have great fun pretending I am a magazine editor, an artistic director or a film screenwriter, from the comfort of my own desk.
Screenprintsby Alfamarama

10. Why did you open an Etsy shop?
I was planning on building my own site when I stumbled across Etsy. It made perfect sense as it was straightforward and had a clear, easy-to use layout. What finally made me decide for Etsy was the social-media bit of it. The possibility of promoting my work in a community, getting to know lots of other like-minded designers and makers and being able to share experiences and work for the good of the team.

It’s been an incredible journey and I have learnt immeasurably from my Etsy friends.

11. What do you think are the benefits of belonging to a team like the PTteam?
PTteam is the only team I belong to actively, participating as much as I can. I think it is important that Portuguese designers have a place to share their ideas and questions in their own language, according to their own specific set of problems. I also hope that PTteam is slowly creating the bases for crafts people in Portugal to come out of their individual shells and get together to do things. Some things that can seem difficult on your own can be achieved more effectively within a committed group of like-minded people like PTteam. Exploring possibilities together will hopefully prompt us to be more participative, proactively creating solutions to improve our hand-made craft community by starting new events, a local craft market, promoting workshops, local crafts blogs, magazines and regular team pop up shops, within or outside the team.

Screenprintsby Alfamarama

12. What do you do to promote your work and shop?
First of all I always have business cards with me at all times. I also opened Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts for Alfamarama which I try to keep interesting and engaging. I use Etsy treasuries a lot, I create at least a couple of treasuries a day. Finally I run stalls regularly at Spitalfields and Camden Markets in London as well as other crafts events. My next step is to approach shops and introduce my products, hoping some will be interested in selling Alfamarama products on their shops.

Alfamarama at Spitalfields Market

13. What advice would you like to share with fellow artists or crafters?
My advice is not very original, Nike has been using it for ages: Just do it! I know everything isn’t always perfect, there is always something that can be improved upon, but don’t let that be an excuse to stop you from doing something. Just do it, open your shop, list that item, try that market. It may not be perfect, but what you will learn from the experience of having it on sale will inform you of exactly what works best, what needs work and ultimately what sells and why it sells. And don’t forget to stay true to your vision and have fun!

14. What do you find most inspiring in Portugal?
I love Portugal, and there are lots of inspiring things. My taste for simple, bold and practical things is very quintessentially Portuguese. I also love the bold colourful patterns in Portuguese azulejos and the bright colours of traditional crafts.

Alfama’s graphic potential was actually the original inspiration for my first line of mugs, hence the name ‘Alfamarama’, somewhere between Panorama - 'an extended pictorial representation' - and Bananarama - a favourite memory from my teenage years…

15. Where do you see yourself and your project in 5 years? I would love it if Alfamarama kept on growing steadily to eventually become my main business. I am going to start approaching shops in the UK and Portugal as I am planning on producing Portuguese versions of the notebooks and cards soon. So I see a lot of hard work, new products and many exciting challenges and opportunities!

16. What would you take with you if your house was on fire? My MacBook with which I have a somewhat difficult, if very productive love-hate relationship. I would also take my biscuits!

Quick fire questions. Your favorites:
Book: ‘How far can you go?’ by David Lodge.
Movie: ‘Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulin’ by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Music: Air
Artist: Thomas Heatherwick
Food: Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Thai. Sorry it’s impossible to name just one!
City: Lisbon for its relaxed quality of life, London for its energy and diversity
Country: Love my roots in Portugal and love my branches in Japan and the UK

All photos by Pedro Vieira aka Alfamarama


  1. Loved it! Loved meeting the person behind this work I admire. :) Good work, Pedro! Best of luck for Alfamarama; and bring it to PT.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Mena!

  2. Parabéns ao Pedro Vieira, gostei muito de ler a entrevista e de ficar a conhecer a loja. Achei as dicas para a PTteam também muito interessantes!
    Continuação de bom trabalho :)

    1. Obrigado Paula! A PTteam é o que nós fizer-mos dela, quanto mais todos pusermos, mais todos ganhamos, embora nem sempre seja possível contribuir como nós gostaríamos.

  3. Great interview, really nice to know a bit more about Pedro and his love of cookies!

    1. That's me ! Thank you, I'm happy you liked it!

  4. Love the interview Pedro!
    And you wish such lovely things for our team. :)
    I wish they can be viewed as the possibilities they are.

    1. Awww, I'm so happy to know you liked it Ana. Thank you so much for thinking of me and Alfamarama!

      As for PTteam I think some of the things I mention are not wishes anymore, they are already happening: We are no longer isolated in our rooms and studios, we are already getting to know each other, we are all already thinking of things we can do. It's just a question of making more things happen now. I know, it's easier said then done but I think we are on the right track Ana!

      Thanks again for your hard work and dedication! You deserve some biscuits now! lol

  5. Thank you so much Ana and everybody at PTteam !

    What a surprise! For some reason I was only counting on this to be posted in June! Silly sausage me. Now I'm super excited if a bit embarrassed lol, even blushing slightly!

    I have always loved all the previous interviews so I hope you enjoy mine this time. If you have any question, a suggestion or just to say hello pop into Alfamarama's Etsy or Facebook pages.

    Thanks again!

    1. It's your month Pedro!
      May is Alfamarama's month!

  6. Congrats my friend! Love your Art items and believe you will grow your handmade business! All the best to you and ptteam!
    Your Portuguese friend from the USA.

    1. Thanks Walter, I am happy to have met you through PTteam! Always love to hear from you.

      All the best to you too!

  7. Loved the interview, great to know you a bit better Pedro!
    So... Japan too? We HAVE to talk about this!!! Mata ne!

    1. Hey Sara! Great to read your feedback, thanks !

      Yes Japan too! Looks like we are following parallel paths, Lisbon-Tokyo-London! By the way when are you coming to London Sara Kampai? Mata aimashou!




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