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Sebastião Rodrigues Mid Century Portuguese Graphic Designer

March 22, 2013

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Sebastião Rodrigues (1929-1997) was born and raised in Dafundo, Portugal. From a very early age he learned the design trade from his father, whilst running errands for a graphical advertising service newspaper, The Voice.  Sebastião devoted his life to the world of visual arts and culture. In 1940 and 1941 he studied at the Industrial School Marquis of Pombal, with amazing teachers such as the architect and painter George Frederick Calvet Magalhães. By 1945 he was working at Atelier Advertising Arts (APA) where he met his future co-worker Manuel Rodrigues, who worked alongside him for 30 years. From 1948, they executed posters, flyers and window displays for the National Bureau of Information (SNI). The ‘sixties’ style that was used on these jobs formed the nature of his later works.

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Sebastião Rodrigues was a perfectionist. The area of ​​the entire design process, from concept to final product was done with all with vigor.  He worked with everyone who was part of the larger process of graphic production and they all exchanged knowledge and experiences. From 1959 to 1961 he was responsible for the graphic design of the monthly publication called ‘Almanac’. Below you can see some of his quirky covers and artwork from within the magazine. I think his animals are magnificent !

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With a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (1959-60), he travelled for half a year in the North Country to collect inspirational graphic material. It was during this and other trips where he collected material that would constitute the raw material for his future work. He searched for a deeper understanding of the roots of the Portuguese popular culture, which became a key quality of his work. You can see this clearly in the posters and book covers he created to advertise his love of Portugal.

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Somewhat shy and introspective, but with a talent and unsurpassed rigor, Sebastião was meticulous and attentive. He was also fascinated by ethnography and anthropology, he studied and gathered masses of information, which he processed, pondered and reflected upon, to extract even the tiniest details. He was responsible for creating book covers, logos, brochures, studies for brands, billboards, shop windows. He participated in magazines, newspapers, organized exhibitions, among other activities. A founder member of the Portuguese Association of Designers.

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He received several awards and honors, a lifelong medal and Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, awarded by the President of the Republic in 1995. The “Diploma of Honor ‘poster for the Olympics in Helsinki in 1952 and the’ Award of Excellence 1991 ‘by the International Council of Graphic Associations. He was also a founding member of the Portuguese Association of Designers in 1976. Some fascinating and amazing work, I think you’ll agree.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. janelittlefieldglass permalink
    March 22, 2013 10:23 am

    This is lovely, I can see similarities with Mary Blair’s work (Some of the patterns and shapes)

    • March 22, 2013 7:31 pm

      I agree, especially that piece at the end, it could almost be one of Mary’s designs for It’s a small world !

  2. March 24, 2013 1:05 pm


  3. davidsep permalink
    September 23, 2014 7:19 pm

    I have a vintage mid century poster by Manuel Rodrigues.. Any idea who might be interested? It’s a travel poster about Cote Du Soleil, Portugal c. 1953. Thank you for any help rendered.
    David Sepulveda

    • September 23, 2014 8:55 pm

      Sorry David I don’t have any dealings with poster sales at all I’m afraid, something you could sell on Ebay or look into auctions who might specialise in vintage posters. Good luck with it all.

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