How many lives can you fit into one lifetime?

Let’s say you’re a photographer. Or an athlete. Or a graphic designer. Or a musician.

What about… if you’re all of them?

Sounds surreal, but this is Ricardo Macedo. “I don’t want to be the best, I want to be better than yesterday.” he said, at the Creative Mornings Lisbon event, this January. It certainly put my New Year’s resolutions in check.

As a child, Michael Jordan was his idol. However, he quit basketball to be an engineer. Why, you ask? There was another powerful influence in his life: fear. Fear of the future. Or, as he dearly calls it, “the bastard”. “Everyone was always warning me about the future. The bastard is always there to try to scare you.” he recalls. “You just have to ignore it. Most of the time.”

And so he did. He became a graphic designer at IADE, working during the day and studying during the night. Moving to Barcelona, “I had a dream job.” he says. “I started a band that lasted for 10 years. And an illustration company. So I thought that was it. A year later, I started being a teacher at ELISAVA.”, a renowned design school.

My weekends were filled with music, alcohol and party, as a reward for my hard work.” he says. I sense that the audience can relate to that, noticing some knowing smiles and nervous laughter. “My dream job was not that dreamy anymore.” A panic attack was the warning sign. “I felt I was going to die”, he says, opening up about his depression, Xanax, drugs and considering suicide. “In that moment, it made sense.”, Ricardo shares.

Back in Portugal, he realised he had been “worrying about the future, and sad about the past”. Ricardo is a one-man show and a man-of-many-talents. Thus, he decided to take up whatever he wanted, in the moment. “I started to choose my customers very wisely, even if I was short in cash. And I never had a lot of cash. I wanted people who believe in me, and in my portfolio. I did illustrations, I worked for magazines, I did corporate identities and logotypes.”

His latest project was built with his own hands. At Las Vegan, he re-created a traditional portuguese tavern, but focused on sustainability and plant-based food. I had dinner at Las Vegan the evening before his talk, and now it all came together, in terms of what Ricardo is and does. It is Ricardo in a nutshell: dynamic, intimate, exciting and authentic. “Variety is the spice of life”, he concludes.


Text by Carolina Mesquita (CreativeMornings Writer)

Photos by Acurácia Fotojornalismo