Tiago, Blanca, Milena and Amanda Baeza
Tiago, Blanca, Milena and Amanda Baeza are the creators of Mr.Spoqui, a family zine founded in 2009. These half Chilean, half Portuguese siblings put together one of the most exciting independent publications out there. Each issue is dedicated to a specific subject and is filled with interviews, comics, photos and drawings.
To know more about this creative family, our photographer friend Matilde Viegas travelled to Lisbon and spent one weekend with the Baeza siblings.
Photos by Matilde Viegas
What is Mr.Spoqui? Please introduce the project to us.
Blanca: Mr. Spoqui is a family zine put together by 4 siblings…
Milena: … every 2 months, we write and draw things around an specific topic. We accept submissions and invite other artists to contribute to the zine, although in the last few months we haven’t spent much time on Mr. Spoqui because we’ve gone through a few changes.
The concept of a “family zine” is great – How did it all start? What was your inspiration?
Blanca: It all started as a game. I used to draw these creatures called “Bigbaiss”, they even had their own world…
Tiago: …. and Amanda and I came up with Mr. Spoqui, who was another creature but it was mean. We started this comic, similar to a magazine where Mr. Spoqui used to play pranks on the Bigbaiss.
Milena: There really wasn’t any inspiration. We even found out what a zine was around 2 years ago when we were putting together our family zine. We were always creative since we were little and we were doing stuff together the whole time.
Every issue of Mr Spoqui focuses on a different and very special topic. How do you come up with all these themes?
Tiago: I normally start proposing lots of different topics. Most of them are silly, but sometimes Amanda likes one and says “mmmh, good idea!”.
Amanda: I think I’ve already said this somewhere, but I’ve realised that we usually choose the topics when we are sleeping, why?
Milena: Haha! It’s true! Last weekend, we were having lunch and suddenly our mom woke up and came up with “dance” as the topic for the next issue. We thought it was a great idea, because people would have the chance to know a little more about the project Blanca is involved with.
What was your childhood and growing up with artistic parents like?
Tiago: It’s been great!
Milena: We haven’t had any issue when choosing an artistic career path. That’s something that doesn’t happen in other types of families, there are always conversations around “you need to be a doctor like your father, etc.”. When we were little, our house was like a massive art production factory!
Has growing up in different countries affected you in any way?
Amanda: I think it has mainly affected Milena and me, just because we have more memories from our childhood in Chile. For me in particular, having grown up in such different countries has allowed me to have a global and non-patriotic perspective of the world.
Tiago: I was really little, probably around 1 year old, that’s why I haven’t noticed any change at all.
Blanca: Same for me, I was 4 years old and can’t remember anything.
How do you guys work together? Could you tell us a little more about who’s in charge of what?
Blanca: Now that Amanda lives by herself, we usually set a day for meeting at our parents’ house and we split tasks: who is going to be writing, who is going to be drawing…Each of us usually do what they like the most, and after that we discuss everything we’ve done.
What do you do apart from Mr Spoqui? What are your other projects?
Milena: I’m studying music technology. Sometimes I have to record bands like string quartets or other types of instruments. The last band I recorded was a saxophone quartet, in which Amanda plays the baritone.
Blanca: I’m part of a contemporary dance company called “A Primeira Companhia”. We’ve had several shows in Lisbon – the most exciting probably was in the São Luiz Theatre! We’re now putting together a piece around “adolescence” with choreographer Joana Bergano.
Tiago: I’m studying music. I play the trumpet in a youth orchestra and in a philharmonic band (along with my sisters and our parents – they’re also learning). I used to play basketball and now I practice canoeing. I also like to play computer games.
Amanda: I’m exploring the comic world while I’m looking for a job as an illustrator.
What are your aspirations? What do you want to do in the future?
Tiago: I wan to keep on studying music and become a professional trumpeter.
Amanda: I want to travel and also communicate things the way I know best, through storytelling and illustration.
Blanca: I want to learn how to play the guitar, piano and drums.
Milena: I’d like to be part of the technical support of a live concert. Also work in a sound studio and go on studying, maybe even another degree!
What would you consider your best achievement with Mr. Spoqui? What plans do you have for the future of the zine?
Tiago: I think we live in our own bubble and we don’t really think that much about the future of the zine.
Amanda: When we started the zine, we had no clue it was gonna be so rewarding. The best thing has been meeting and discovering incredible people and projects. For example, we would have never met Matilde and have shared a typical family meal if it hadn’t been for Mr. Spoqui.
Milena: Our future plan is leaving things alone…letting them grow at their own pace.