The Journey as a Urban Artist
Born as Thiago Rogério de Castro Furtado in a coastal city Florianópolis in Santa Catarina state, Brazil, he is a young graffiti artist, painter and illustrator known as Valdi Valdi. The love for Art (and Japanese comics) started at an early age thanks to his designer father, the little Valdi had always been the kid who sat in the back of the classroom drawing things on the notepads.
As a teenager, he was introduced to urban art through skateboarding in these streets where urban art was emerging. As soon as he met some schoolmates at college who were actively experimenting in the streets, he joined them without hesitation and started his own journey as artist in 2006.
Photos courtesy of the artist
Valdi Valdi – sea blue monochromatic portraits
Photrealistic street art
His works are photorealistic, like the ones of renowned street artist Christina Angelina. Photorealistic artworks in large sizes are striking, but they have their own challenges: it requires time, careful planning, high level of technical competence and strong visual identity.
These faces are soft and feminine, yet have very strong lines and features. The artist made sure that his works are well blended into the soundings, eye-catching but not offensive. The girl with long hair in blue is waiting to have a dialogue with you, the passersby, asking the questions you would ask yourself when you are alone. (Red Bank, New Jersey)
Hitting 10 years mark painting murals, Valdi-Valdi has grown a lot like a child has grown out of his shoes. When he compared his present-self to his younger-self, he admitted that he had learned only recent years how to manage his creative process, instead of spontaneous impulsive expression. Currently, he lives and works in the United States painting murals in different parts of the country. He continues to seek ways to improve his work and himself as a person in his journey.
How your interest in Graffiti and street art started?
First of all, I appreciate the invitation and I have to congratulate the folks of Design Culture for their quality content! Well, I’ve started in Graffiti around 10 years ago, but I’ve been enjoying to draw as far as I can remember. I was always that boy who sat in the back of the room drawing. Furthermore, I got in touch with the urban environment when I was quite young, I was skateboarding around it at the age of 13. Since then, the street has been a special place for me. Later on, at college, I met some people who were already painting in the streets and I became friends with them rather quickly.
“…In a blink of an eye, I was already handling the spray”
In a blink of an eye I was already handling the spray, whilst getting to know the graffiti culture just by drawing around. The interest in urban art was quite strong, as it motivated me so much to evolve as an artist and as a person. Because when you draw in your notebook nobody can judge you, but when you go out there to the street and paint a wall, your work is seen and you must show your worth.
Who have had an influence on you throughout these years?
This question is always a very intricate one to answer. There are tons of references, people and elements who have an influence on you throughout the years. As an artist you just let your mind exist in this state of constant readiness, feeding on everything that’s part of your life. But, starting from the beginning, my father was always an excellent designer and from a very early age, he showed me art galleries and libraries with art books. My parents are in love with knowledge and that provided me a very rich foundation culturally wise. I took a lot
“…Albrecht Durer, someone greatly admired by my father”
of references from the Renaissance art and particularly from the German genius Albrecht Durer, someone greatly admired by my father. This contact with classical arts is an influence that I have had since I was a child. Later on, I tied it with Japanese drawings, manga and comics. It was really the beginning of my journey as an artist, this blend between the old and the new.
Throughout the years, whilst still having the eastern culture as my grounding (Miyamoto Musashi), I looked for a constant evolution. Regardless of what the reference was, I acknowledged that I needed to put a real effort in order to become an artist. I dedicated myself to the technique and style throughout all this time, without taking a break, always seeking a unique identity and a broader understanding of what art is. I’m still far from the end, but I believe that I found a way to keep moving forward the farthest.
“…the most important thing was to learn about the graffiti artist’s conduct”
In addition to all this, I had amazing mentors in graffiti. Here in Florianopolis, in the beginning, I met two major graffiti artists, characters who helped the local scene to bloom as if it was a big city. Right now my great friends: João Vejam and Rodrigo Rizo, they have really thought me everything I know about urban art. I’ve acquired a great amount of technical knowledge with them, on how to use the spray and colors. But the most important thing was to learn about the graffiti artist’s conduct, the attitude and the respect that comes with it. That knowledge changed me as an artist and as a person, and everything that I’ve earned to this day is based on that experience.
How does your creative process works when you’re creating art?
Despite having a technique that is acknowledged by people, I still enjoy having room to experience quite a lot in the creative process. But, to depict my current work, my art creation process went through a massive change, which has made a real difference. Before that, 4 years ago, I used to start a graffiti by being just equipped with lots of will (eagerness) and spray. It was a spontaneous and expressive art form, one that didn’t rely on planning, an approach that worked for me for quite some time. But that form of young art has its weaknesses, when you don’t plan your work it goes off the rails pretty easily or, on the other hand, it doesn’t reach its maximum potential.
“…planning my graffiti really made an absolute difference in the final result”
I was able to revert that when I noticed that planning my graffiti really made an absolute difference in the final result. I started to hit the wall with printed references, having the color palette already set out, the wall’s size with its measurements accurately obtained and so on. Right now, I need some hours, or even days, to get my paintings ready and, since I don’t use a projector to make the realism, I have to measure every detail of my painting in order to transfer them to the wall in the exact proportion. Today I’m able to notice how important that is, I managed to merge my young and expressionist work with the sort of patient and methodology which we only see in older artists!
How is a day in the life of Thiago Valdi?
Few people know this but, besides being an artist, I’m a businessman here in Florianopolis. My daily routine is split between art and business, which may hinder things a bit, but it’s also helpful when it comes to my understanding and artistic career. I end up being much more objective and productive with my art, because that’s the posture I have inside my company. Not to mention that I’m able to bring creative and audacious solutions into the business world, this duality works in a surprisingly way.
“…besides being an artist, I’m a businessman”
In addition to that, my routine as an artist is weird (that’s what I think)! I spend a major period just thinking and speculating about my art, about what I should and shouldn’t paint. Almost in a state of physical inertia, combined with an intense reflection inside my mind. This provides my path with an immense satisfaction and clarity. I enjoy looking with disclosure at the “whys” of my upcoming steps. Then, when it’s time to act, I go out like a mad dog, with determination, focus and emotion.
The most positive and negative points of your profession?
The most negative is surrendering to our own Ego’s infatuations, to the point where it becomes the focus of the art. Without any sort of doubt, that’s a curse, which, in my opinion, must be fought by everyone who wishes to become an artist.
“…Right now, artists are aiming to “impress” people, when we should aim to “inspire” them.”
The positive one is looking for personal growth in one’s own work. When you improve yourself as an artist, you end up being a better person as well, in some aspect.
What work do you consider to be your best work?
My best work is yet to exist, it’s still in my mind. Of course, some paintings ended up looking pretty cool, but, as a matter of fact, I do believe that my best work will not even be a painting. It may not even be something of my authoring, but something beyond me, beyond my own ego. That will be a magnum opus.
Now a quick a chat:
- A movie: Nacho Libre
- A song: Prologue, the album Elekfantz
- A place: Cadaqués, Spain
- A color: Blue moving towards green and Orange moving towards magenta
Tell us more about your hobbies
Success comes when work, leisure and study fuse themselves. Surfing and drinking wine have a place in there too.
Do you have some lesson that you’ve learned along these years?
No one teaches us how we’re created to be just a single thing. But you can be multidisciplinary, antagonistic, you can have several dreams and more than one profession. Being complete is doing everything that strikes your mind, as long as it’s truthful.
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