As Seen by Her: Decorative Painter Zaida Sabatés Plays Tricks With Texture

The Barcelona-based painter writes about the pleasure of creating tactile worlds with just a paintbrush.

We’ve found our soulmate! Introducing As Seen by Her—a Barcelona-based platform celebrating modern women with the ambition to share honest and intelligent perspectives. Sounds pretty similar to us, eh? Since our goals come from pretty much the same place, we’ll be sharing As Seen by Her’s stories written by creative women every week.

Today, meet Barcelona-based decorative painter Zaida Sabatés. She writes about the pleasure of mimicking material through paint, taking the plunge to start her own company and the importance of observation. 

My name is Zaida Sabatés. I’m 39 years old and I’m a decorative painter from Barcelona. I’ve always been passionate about fine arts: my dad’s been making sculptures as a hobby since I was a kid, so he influenced me in my artistic development. I use to go to painting classes with my mother as a teenager, and the teacher would paint trompe-l’oeil and marbling imitations. I remember being fascinated by the amazing perspectives and the realistic imitations.

I studied art and specialised in decorative and mural painting. I worked for a renowned painting company and developed my skills throughout different projects—from big hotels to famous restaurants to residential houses. I specialised in artistic and decorative solutions through traditional painting techniques such as trompe l’oeil, glazing and marble imitation. One of my biggest projects was painting all the walls of the Majestic Hotel in Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona; if you look at the lobby walls, you’ll notice there is no stone there.

After a few years of working there, I decided to start my own decorative painting company, using the traditional techniques but with a contemporary point of view. Working for a big company, I wasn’t part of the creative process: decorators decided on most of the painting finishes, and I found a lack of creativity in the way they were used. Now I work in my studio in Barcelona where I try to find new ways to apply those techniques in unused fields by constantly evolving and adapting to new ways.

The starting point for my working process is observation. I observe a lot of things and I’m open to new techniques so I can imitate or interpret them. There is a creative process in that interpretation, and that’s the part I enjoy most. I find inspiration in nature or sometimes in industrial materials. Colours are essential to my work, so I prepare them with natural pigments to have unique results and find the perfect tone.

Creating beautiful and delicate things with my hands is something I need in my life; it makes me happy. I have many friends working in different creative fields like interior design, fashion, photography, art direction and film, so I’ve started collaborating with them. One of them is my life partner, Malva Sawada; she’s a Graphic Designer and Art Director who collaborates with me in different projects. Networking is essential for me, as I’m always interested in collaborating with people who inspire and improve my work.