Hi, my name is Pedro.
Here’s a little bit about me and how Alfamarama came to life!
Hope you enjoy reading it!
I am Portuguese and I graduated as an architect in Lisbon.
After that I lived, studied and worked in Tokyo for four years.
When I came back to Lisbon I worked long hours at a few architecture offices.
After those rather less creative than expected architecture office years, I was tired of staring at a computer all day and desperately needed a change.
I wanted to be able to manage my own time and finally be in charge of the creative side of things. Self employment looked appealing.
My grand dad was a maker, a black smith, as was my dad before he decided to retrain and run an electronics shop. Making and selling already ran in the family.
I decided to retrain as well and have a go at creating my own making and selling business and see how that went.
My initial plan was to design modern souvenirs of Alfama, Lisbon's oldest, most traditional neighbourhood. There was virtually nothing apart from old-fashioned kitsch bits and bobs. That’s actually where the brand name came from: 'ALFAMARAMA' would be 'a panoRAMA of ALFAMA', its traditions updated with a modern twist.
As this plan was about to come to life, I ended up moving to London.
Sticking up to my original idea, I retrained as a graphic designer and screen printer.
I attended short courses at Saint Martin's and Putney School of Art and Alfamarama launched online on June the 1st 2012, selling mug designs with my illustrations inspired by Alfama's people, patterns and colours.
But by then I was already mostly based in London (not a great place to sell souvenirs of Alfama...), Lisbon was suddenly flooded with contemporary souvenir shops and mugs turned out to be rather difficult to carry around and quite expensive to ship.
Again, I needed a plan B.
Notebooks made light, useful and affordable gifts, it couldn't go wrong this time..
I decided to print my very first notebooks while at Putney School of Art.
It was going to be a a range of notebooks with sardines and azulejo tile patterns, still stubbornly in line with my inicial Alfamarama plan. And they actually sold ok but again, only in Portugal. As I wanted to begin selling in crafts markets in London and internationally on Etsy, I needed some less Alfama inspired designs that would appeal to everyone. Time to come up with a different approach yet again.
Following an idea I had in the back of my mind for a while, I decided to print on the same plain notebook covers but this time using not patterns but a few funny sentences in a very simple neutral typeface. A vintage typewriter font was just what I needed: simple, neutral, very graphic and very importantly, timeless.
The very first notebooks to be printed were 'my secret plan to conquer the world' and 'my list of things to remember I'll probably forget'. Gradually more followed.
And that's where it all really started for Alfamarama as it is today!
In Spitalfields and Camden people were laughing with my quotes and online sales went off the roof that first Christmas! So I got the message: it was time to stop printing tiles and illustrations altogether and focus on more ideas for products with funny quotes!
These days I am back in Lisbon and Alfamarama has expanded to t-shirts and sweatshirts, mugs, door hangers, pillow covers, baby bodies, tote bags, piggy banks and lots more, all trying to put a smile on people’s faces.
In the meanwhile I have also introduced a new line of funny quotes in Portuguese which somehow makes a full circle, reconnecting Alfamarama with its original roots.
New ideas are always popping up and I am always working on new products.
Keep an eye on Alfamarama on Facebook and Instagram for news, sales, funny things and silly sixties pics!
Notebooks and prints are hand screen printed at home, exposing stencils in the toilet and printing in the kitchen in a very messy, old school king of way!
Other products are now hand printed by screen printing friends so I can focus on new designs, custom orders and much dreaded paper work.
It’s lovely to look back and see how everything happened and evolved in a way I never really expected, sometimes by pure chance, others by adapting to new circumstances. Today I genuinely feel that Alfamarama reflects my personal and professional journey and evolving taste: my sense of humour, the minimalism of architecture, the wabi-sabi of Japanese culture, the retro feel from my love of all things vintage.
I feel genuinely grateful for all the professional achievements but most of all I am very happy for all the amazing friends I made and costumers I met in this journey.
A very special one of them even became my boyfriend!
I have that to be grateful to Alfamarama for as well!
Hope you enjoyed finding out more!
Always feel free to ask, comment or just say hello!