We cought up with one of Brazil’s big talents, street artist Valdi-Valdi. Originally from Florianópolis, he has been an active since 2006 and has always been inspired by the ocean! The sensational female figures in his works express the beauty and admiration he has for the uncontrallable force of the sea. His works have been exhibited in New york, Barcelona, Milano, Mumbai, New Jersey, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and now he offers some time for us to get to know him better. So sit back and enjoy the Interview!
-(ISSA) What you choose to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
(Valdi-Valdi) – That’s a easy one! A lot of coffee in day time and some nice beers at night.
-Introduce yourself to us!
Hi there, I’m Thiago Valdí, a street artist from Brazil.
First of all I’d like to thank ISSA for the wonderful work, creating and supporting street art and graffiti around the globe with respect and quality. You guys rock!
I’m 29 years old and I’m doing graffiti since 2006. As many others who paint in the streets, I was a boy who just love to draw and this felling push me until now.
– Where does your tag name come from?
It’s a funny story. The nickname Valdi is not my lastname, as many people believe. It was a childhood nickname who stucked on me. I let my hair grown big once and a friend yelled in the middle of the school: hey Thiago, you look like Valderrama. For those who don’t know, Valderrama is a popular soccer player from the 80’s who had the biggest hair in the sport history. In the same time a girl said: come on guys, Valderrama is a ugly name, i think valdi-valdi is more cute. Done, the nickname stucked, but i was not upset, i feld cool with a new nickname.
After sometime i discovered that Valdi is an ancient nordic word for Power, energy, the one who guide, life and vitality. I identifyed myseld with those concepts, and this help me to find the will inside me necessary for envolving as an artist and as a human being.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
I believe that I’m an artist who likes to paint big things on walls at public spaces. I’m a street muralist artist.
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
I’ll try to explain my path, maybe someone who reads it will understand better. Because to be an artist, with style and meaning, is not from academic ways, is from ourselves, our experiences.
It became since I was a child, and as far as I remembered, people remember me because I was the best drawer they knew. I had support from my parents who love art and culture. When my friends were playing soccer my father used to bring me to see art galleries, and that was the beginning of my passion for it.
The cartoons and Japanese animes filled my imagination in my teenagers period, and also I loved to skate board. Those elements, very early in my life, like 13 years old, put me in contact with the streets. Daring, attitude, and free hand art, customizing everything around me, was the prediction of an street artist. So when I went in the Design College at 2006, I met some nice guys who already was painting in the streets, making graffiti. We became friends in a blink of a eye, and they introduce me to everyone of thee graffiti scene of my town.
That was everything I needed to express myself. It was so powerful, to have met a large group of people with the same desires. This brotherhood and the challenge of the street artist life molded my artist view since now I had some masters who teach me everything about the attitude and respect in the streets. Vejam and Rizo, teached me how to envolve, how to push my art to the limit every time. I had 10 year of this creative experience, me, along the other artists, develop our techniques and styles in a worldwide level.
Thanks to a great artist and also a friend, L7M, two years ago I started this idea of became with more realistic style, deconstructing my old techniques and painting habits. Also, in the same time, wondering how to be more fluid and poetic, how to use my feelings and expressions. So what you see now in my paintings, are all the result of this long path of experiences and challenges
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I woke up with the person I love even before I was an street artist. Marcela and I are together for more than 13 year by now. To spend those moments at home with her, preparing break fast, surround with yellow sun light, is something priceless. This happiness get me ready for the day, inspire me to go on.
-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?
I feel wierd but i have a diferente sound who inspire me when i painting on the streets. In these past 10 years, I get used to be aware of my surrouding in the brazilian streets, so it became a habit. I only paint with the ambiente sound, no music ear phone, and the cool thing about that is because the enviroment sound affects your painting. When the city is caotic, with traffic and troublle, my painting became more rush and agressive. When i’m painting in a calm place, like a beach or a silent street, the sound of the wind and birds makes me calm too. So the painting became more subtle.
I learned to use that to create new meanings and aesthetics for my work.
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
I could say a thousand of artists names but I will focus on the art movements. I do love the old master portraits, the impressionists color effects, the expression of the Japanese calligraphy and the feeling abstract arts. Also I’m intrigued by the empty spaces of visual arts, and I’m trying to understand and control it.
My main inspiration came from the beauty of the sea. I live in an small island in south of brazil, very beautiful in nature, surrounded by many beaches. So we learn very early in our lives to observe the ocean, to understand its moods. Sometimes it’s dangerous and dark, make us fell fear and small. In other hand, the ocean can be calm and light blue, warm waves that make us fell at home. That power and modifications inspire me to paint and the portraits I create, are my desire to paint the face of the ocean. Beautiful and powerful as woman look can be.
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
For me the main challenge is to avoid the ego. We can be so controlled by it that the painting will became a fake felling, something you create to impress others of how good/crazy/rich/etc you are. I believe that as artists, we should not work with the objective of impressing people, but with the will to inspire then to life. Those are a very different approach and not every artist can notice it.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
Yes, a lot, incalculable. Actually not only artists in the common term of the word. I believe art is a path, a way to reach perfection, and a master carpenter or constructor use a lot of art concepts in their crafts.
I do learn a lot from these examples, as the carpenter. The way he think and choose the best tree in the forest, the best way to cut it, to store it. The master carpenter choose among the woods he cutted down, the ones who are the strongest, and place them in the foundations of the building. The most beautiful and plain woods, with no holes, he use it on the front deck, so the facade will be perfect. The weak ones, he use as parts of tools and less important items. So, this example goes on, shows how a master thinks, and we can learn from it, and use in our own path, in our own craft.
-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
That’s a good question, each big city are full of culture and inspirations. I did travel a little and could experience some different influences. I had influences from NY city, Barcelona, Rio de janeiro and Mumbai. Those places showed me the faces of the world. For the next travels I’m planning to know more about Europe, the classic world.
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
Art is a part of me and teach me how to understand the world around. But without family and friends we can’t have any passion. People around me keep me warm and ready for art.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
Oh yes, you can bet on that. I’m working slowly in these crazy ideas and in the right time I’ll show the world. They are not so far away, and when the time comes I’ll let you guys from ISSA know!
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
Yes, my art has something inside but I do not think it’s a message. My art is for the sense, something you can’t be rational about, you feel when you look at it. My goal in art and painting is to bring to the viewer something unavoidable, powerful as the look of our beloved one. So my art is remembering you about that look you had once, and I know it’s still there, inside you. The most intrigate part is that the faces I paint can’t be read. You can’t be sure if it’s happy or sad, angry or afraid, so different people will have different understanding about my painting.
Beside this, my aesthetic is created to be something perfect and beautiful (realistic portrait) combine with the ugly and strong expressive strokes (abstract elements). Those two elements create a complete piece of art, something that demand my rational and emotional skills. I fell complete with these antagonism.
– How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
Cool question! My streetart pieces usually last long. I think the beautiful part, the portraits, are responsible for it. People see it as a piece of art and try to keep it as long as they can. Even people who do not know about art or do not care, when they see my portraits they have to admit: it’s art.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
I receive so much feedback from my streetarts, people became amazed. It’s so cool for me to discover that. I’m not trying to boast myself on this, but if you stop to think, is very rare to see a nice realistic and colourful portrait, so imagine it in a small town street. Bang! People are caught off guard, so the the surprise element and artistic skills works as a lightning bolt on the society.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us?
Maybe it’s not a secret but a personal understanding which makes the difference for me. For those who are walking in the path of art, in my personal point of view: we should avoid our egos, which is a trap to create fake feelings and fake messages. Paint for inspire people, inspire your community, inspire the one’s around you. That’s the most difficult thing in an artist life because we have to change ourselves in the first place. I see many artist trying to send a message to impact the world, but they aren’t changing, they aren’t involving, that message is a short cut to success, so will be much more difficult to inspire someone with that. You guys from ISSA was there in my beginning as an artist, and you can see how far I have to go to be here, talking about art, and I know it’s just the beginning. So the secret is difficult, the secret is: be the best you can is not enough, be beyond best, be unique, because people need you, they need you to do impossible things, so they will start believing in themselves. Transform your path in an art itself , and then, you painting or whatever you do, will reflect that.
-What are your creative plans for the future?
Be part of the evolution of the urban art. I don’t know exactly what it means but I feel that the street artists from today will impact the communities in the future. See, today every city has libraries, museums, hospitals, stadiums, etc, I believe in the future the public art will be as important and irreplaceable as those examples. (in the first world countries its already happening, but in the other half of the world it’s completely unknown)
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
No one teaches us, we are created to be one thing only. But we can be multidisciplinary, have different dreams, and be antagonistic. Be complete is to do whatever you want to, since we are true with ourselves.
-Thank you! It’s been great to get to know more about the mind and person behind such talented street art works.
Philipp Gor / ‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
VLADI Official website: www.valdivaldi.com.br