‘Learning languages makes my brain work in a different way’

Life Lessons: Brazilian artist Marina Esmeraldo

Is there a moment that changed your life?

The moment I realised I wanted to stay in Barcelona, where I have been living for the past nine years. I initially came for a year of studies. It was terrifying because I had no onward visa, no money, no support network, just a burning desire and my gut screaming that it was the right thing to do.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

Even though they didn’t understand the world of art and design, my parents were always very sensitive and supportive of my creative ambitions. Their belief in me has enabled me to reach for what I truly aspired to.

Who do you most admire?

My family; my parents, my siblings, my husband and his family. I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong, intelligent, hardworking, kind and generous people.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life?

Becoming aware of years of self-sabotaging processes, which in turn led me to realise I needed psychotherapy.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t judge. Everyone is mostly just trying their best.

And the worst?

I’ve been in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that tried to suppress aspects of myself that are fundamental to who I am, and when I couldn’t heed, I was punished for it. I’m only now starting to realise the toll that’s taken, but grateful for the awareness.

What practical thing do you do to help your personal development?

Meditation, exercise, good sleep and psychotherapy.

What location do you return to for a sense of calm and time out? 

The beach. My name means “from the sea” in Latin, and I have had a life-long connection to the sea and the ocean, and whenever I can see it I feel at peace.

What’s your biggest flaw?

My short temper.

And your worst habit?


What aspect of yourself do you privately admire?

I like that I’m a sensual person, that’s where a person’s vitality lies and where compassion is born. I’m also very good with languages. I think learning as many as I have has not only given me a different world view, but makes my brain work in a different way.

What personality trait would friends say is your most dominant?

Focus and determination. Also, some friends have said that when I die, I will turn into glitter.

How about an unfulfilled goal you don’t tell anyone about?

I think people who work with creativity are full of “the great discontent”. I have countless unfulfilled goals, it’s part of what propels me forward. But to name a few, I wish I had developed more as a photographer and art director, and properly learned French.

Is there a moment in your life where you feel you were treated unfairly?

Of course, I’m a woman. Before that, I was a girl who wanted to be seen, much like any human. That can make people uncomfortable, so I was punished for it.

Is there a gift you purchase repeatedly for different people?

Books. I often gift people with my artwork, though.

What’s the wisest thing you’ve ever heard or read?

When you’re confused, you’re on the edge of a breakthrough.

What are you most proud of in your life?

Being a compassionate person.

What’s your life motto?

As my father likes to say – there is no free lunch.

Marina Esmeraldo is a Brazilian artist who recently collaborated with the Irish creative entity Hen’s Teeth, and the DJ and artist Honey Dijon, on Black Girl Magic, a series of neon portraits of iconic artists, currently on view at Hen’s Teeth, in Dublin 8 until April 12th.