We speak to one of the most Iconic street artists, André Saraiva aka Mr. A, who opens his doors in NYC to ISSA. Here is our fascinating conversation about art, experiences, love stories on walls and the symbolisms of his works on the streets. For him Graffiti is not Vandalism, its a beautiful crime!
(ISSA) – What you choose to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
(Mr Andre) – A glass of good red Burgundy!
My name is André Saraiva. I’m an artist and I live in New York.
– Where does your tag name come from?
When I started tagging, most of my peers had pseudonyms that tended to be inspired by American culture. I always liked the five letters of my name and the European sound to it, so I just started writing my own name.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
Starting graffiti in the mid-80s really taught me to have a free approach to the world, not waiting for people to tell me what to do but to be free to do what I wanted. I think that philosophy of life has been with me all these years and is still present today.
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Go back to bed.
-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
Right now I’m listening to a lot of Chet Baker and Keith Jarrett.
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
One theme that has always been very strong and present in my work is love and my love stories.
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
None of it is really hard. Actually it might be easier than it is hard.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
So many. The list would be too long to fit here, but let me do the beginning:
Keith Haring, Gordon Matta-Clark, Brassai…
-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
Paris, New York, Lisbon, Tokyo
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
My daughter, Henrietta.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
Maybe writing a feature about my life and the Love Graffiti adventure.
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
My art has a bit of symbolism, sometimes a few messages, and a lot of repetition.
– How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
It’s very variable. Pieces in the street sometimes last just a couple of hours, and some of my walls and graffiti can still be seen ten years later, even if the colors fade a bit. But recently I worked with a new technique, Portuguese azulejos (tiles), which have the quality of being very durable in public spaces. Today it’s the artistry technique that’s known to keep the longest, for hundred and hundreds of years.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
I always made my work with the idea that people can interpret my Mr. As as they want. But they were always painted with a lot of love and joy.
-What are your creative plans for the future?
We are working on a book with Rizzoli of my body of work from the last 30 years. I’m also renovating an old factory across from Lisbon to make an art studio and place to invite my friends to participate in creative projects.
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Graffiti is not vandalism, but a beautiful crime.
Thank you André! It’s been great to get to know more about the personality behind such talented and inspiring works.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
Artist Links: www.mrandre.com