Finally we got the opportunity to speak with the artist behind the series Paper Planes. Nuno Viegas opened his doors in Rotterdam and explained to us how all started and what he is up to nowadays.
-What you choose to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
Sumol de ananás please! If you don’t have it, a Cola is fine.
-Introduce yourself to us!
My name is Nuno Viegas a.k.a. MetisOne. I’m a Portuguese Artist born in Faro in 1985 and raised in Quarteira, Algarve. I lived in this city until I finished my master studies and moved abroad in the end of the year 2014.
At the moment I’m based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Since I moved here my life took a crazy good turn in all aspects but especially when it comes to my artistic career which is starting to get a very nice shape.
I’m one of the founders of the “Policromia Crew” in 2001 and joined the “Stay Rude Kids” a couple of years later.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
I define myself as an artist. At the moment I’m very focused on painting, canvas and murals. This is my main production now. But I also work with photography, video and installation art. Besides this there is also some graffiti once in a while.
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
Back in the days I was rolling with my crew of BMX riders in the south of Portugal around 1997. Hip-Hop was something barely new in south for kids of my generation, specially the Portuguese movement. At this time I was listening to punk rock cassettes, bands like “No Fun At All”, “Lagwagon”, “Millenconlin” amongst others in this genre.
I used to spend my Saturday mornings in the hardware shop of one of my friends. Here we used to fix our bikes, talk about BMX, fool around on each other’s and being jackasses. Suddenly graffiti was a topic amongst our conversations. Some guys were already painting in town and we started to get the interest for it. So in 1999 I got my first can in my friends shop and went around town throwing some tags. Soon I joined the pack and hit my first wall with their help. From this moment on the love for graffiti started to grow, I was getting more and more into it. When I notice I’m running from the cops, having my first big adrenaline pumps. I remember so well, the police almost grabbing us, we all running in different directions, then gathering in a safe location and us all laughing about it and being so thrilled for managing to escape in their face. No mobile phones and at this time by the way… I have never hidden this from my parents and even thought they didn’t supported it they never tried to stop me. But there is always the time you get busted and these are the times when your parents are not so happy and start to try getting some good sense into your mind. I Always had a good relationship with my parents thankfully but I was too focused in this movement to listen to their advice. I always enjoyed going out for bombing missions but soon I started to take a deeper look into the murals. Still in the hardware shop the first graffiti magazines start showing up, we spent entire mornings looking at one magazine, checking what was happening the rest of the world, the first photos of Hall of Fames, man I wanted to do more and better! I started using more colours, more complex sketches, looking for legal walls so I could be focused on one piece and give my best to it. With this I found the Policromia Crew with my friend Menau – It was a crew focused more in legal walls and developing our skills, but still bombing and getting hate from some of the hardcore crews around us LOOOOL!
Times passes, I get in to the rap scene, start losing focus in painting, get into university for the first time and somewhere along the line I lost belief in the fact that I could do something with my life out of this painting world. I Studied computer engineering for 4 years in university and after 4 years I quit the studies. I’m throwing around 4/5 pieces per year. At this time I was thinking, “in Portugal is hard up to get a nice job, unemployment rate is huge, I might as better study and do something I really like, become good in something I love and try my luck!”. So i did. One year after quitting school I comeback to it study to Visual Arts. Did a 5 year study mainly focused on photography, video and installation art (basically no painting involved) which ended up with a masters degree.
In the end of 2014 I moved to Rotterdam to get away from the euro-crisis that strongly hit Portugal, to really try my luck, with no big expectations. Maybe I could get a job, good money and maybe get into the art scene out there. My Dad told me a million of times – “You have to have a Plan!” and always told him “I don’t have a plan but don’t worry, I have a good feeling that everything is going to be alright!”.
When in Rotterdam I had an Internship with Tymon – Me Like Painting – and with his help and support I started painting canvas and developing a whole new thing that is now going back to the walls. Graffiti is still around, but I’m not that hardcore devoted writer at the moment.
We now are reaching the end of 2017 and I have my works in the permanent collection of the only 2 museums specially dedicated to urban contemporary art in Europe. I have met some of the artists I admire the most, became friends with some of them, had exhibitions alongside the world’s best street artists. It’s crazy! It’s like dreaming awake and it never stops getting better! I’m a very lucky guy and I’m very thankful for that!
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
When I wake up I grab my phone and check what time it is, emails, the news and social media. I need to change this habit though. After getting up there is no specific routine thankfully. Considering that I’m getting up in my house in Rotterdam, I can have breakfast or just leave the house and have breakfast somewhere on my way. Or Head to the studio and paint. Or stay at home working on my laptop. Or head to work in the Hostel (as I’m writing this I’m not yet a full time artist and I work at the King Kong Hostel in Rotterdam). Or go back to bed and chill (not so often haha).
-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?
Definitely rap! Mainly Portuguese and American rap, sometimes Spanish or French. But on my speakers I like to have voice of my friends, rappers from my hometown, while I’m creating. Mentally they bring me back to Quarteira and keep me connected to my roots. On the other hand for the viewers of my work, just play Sean Price and l enjoy the piece!
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
For the body of work I’m developing at the moment with my paintings there is no doubt that the graffiti movement is what inspires me the most. Street bombing and train writing are the scenes I get the most juice from!
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
Finding a solid concept or subject is the hardest part. Then developing a style and create images and compositions sticking to it.
Technically, in my case, it depends on every piece but there is always a part of the painting that is harder, like a specific texture or a more intricate pattern.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
I admire a lot of different artists from completely different scenes, from graffiti to mural painting, photography, installation art and music. There are a lot of amazing creative persons. Usually I admire them by the quality of their work and or their attitude towards life and their input in the game. I can name a few that quickly pop to my mind: Telmo Miel, Fanakapan, James Bullough, Josh Keyes, Francis Alys, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Bond Truluv, Roids, Taps and Moses, Moas Crew, 1UP, Maclaim, Love Letters, Asger Carlsen, Martin Paar, Phillip Halsman… But the list is too big to name them all.
-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
Quarteira no doubt about it! For the deep personal attachment I have to it. Then I could name, Berlin, Paris and New York for their close relationship with the graffiti culture.
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
I love the ocean and there is no better way to relate with it then surfing.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
I don’t have a specific big plan in mind at the moment. Life has been surprisingly good. I have been involved in great projects with great people. I just hope I can live a long healthy life full of art production and that it keeps blessing me with nice surprise projects.
But I can dream big and I would love to tag the Moon!
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
In general my works have always been visually clean. This is my main consistent characteristic; I believe it is quite evident, doesn’t matter if it is a painting, a photo, a video or an installation. That is how I like it and how I am – Clean and Simple.
Regarding the series of paintings I have been working on it is all about graffiti. It reflects about the graffiti culture. It is telling a story about graffiti using its elements and its tools, bringing it to surface in a very pacific way. My representation is bright and clean contrasting with the dark night and sometimes wild reality of this culture. In a way I try to show how much beauty, commitment and dedication there is in it beyond the 5 min train bombing piece. In the end it is a tribute to all the WRITERS.
The Paper Planes came from the series of works mentioned above and lives alongside with them even though it got a deeper meaning. For me it is a lot about life. You can sketch your passions in a sheet of paper, you can sketch your goals, your dreams and ambitions, but if you put them in a drawer and forget about them and never put some more work into it and try to make them fly, they will never become real. At least give them a few tries and never give up on shaping them in a way they fly steady one day!
How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
This depends a on the base I’m painting on, the materials or the context it is inserted. A canvas painted in my studio can last for hundreds of years if it is taken good care. A wooden panel painted for a festival can last a couple of days and then get destroyed. A mural in the street can last a few years or a few days. It can vanish with the natural degradation of the wall but i can also be buffed by a graffiti writer who hates street art. Anyway my paintings are usually a tribute to the graffiti scene so I hope graffiti writers keep that in mind before they buff me LOL.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
I like to allow people to do their own interpretations of my work. This is one of the reasons I keep my titles simple and literal. For example, one of my latest paintings (Shirt Mask x Paper Plane) which is a blue shirt mask, like the ones writers use to cover their face when they are on a mission, and one of my paper planes. When I was painting it a friend from Venezuela came to me and said “This reminds me of the riots back in my country” and a few hours later a girl said “This reminds me of the African tribes crossing the dessert”. The painting had nothing to do with what they have just interpreted, but I was happy that it triggered something and that it created a whole new set of images inside their minds. So far I’m glad I never had a negative/repulsive response towards my work.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us? 🙂
I’m not a guy of secrets. The ones I keep are not about me and I won’t share them.
-What are your creative plans for the future?
As I said before I don’t have big plans, I just like to be conscious of my steps and take them firmly. The goal is to keep learning, evolving and growing as an artist but there is no plan for that.
I like to leave it open to the occasion, sometimes you are working on something and you discover something amazing that can go on its own. My Paper Planes are a good example of that, I keep challenging myself and in this process I was painting a piece of paper with one of my throwups on it (Glove x Sketch) and from this came the idea of painting a paper plane full of throwies. And now I play a lot with the Paper Planes on their own. I can say that the plan is simple, to produce and experiment the most possible and never get stuck to one concept.
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Be and do good! Believe and make it happen but at the same time stay conscious and don’t fool yourself. Enjoy life!
Thank you MetisOne! It’s been great to get to know more about the mind and person behind such talented and inspiring works.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.