Interview with Mr. Dheo- Portuguese Graffiti Writer
following interview is with the graffiti artist, Mr. Dheo, who works in
the city of Porto in northern Portugal. I was granted this interview
through email. The article that this interview helped to produce, The
Other Side of the Wall: Graffiti in Portugal was published in the
February edition of Cafe Abroad Magazine. Submit links and comments to this page! Publish your relevant link, comment, or information below.
1. What attracted you to the art of graffiti? Why did you start writing?
was drawing before I even know how to speak fluently. When I was 3
years old I was already drawing my own stuff and I used to copy every
font of the newspapper just beacuse they were visually attractive to
me. Ever since I have never stopped and I did it every single day, even
though there's a curious thing: I absolutely hated to draw with pencil.
All my life I used just a pen, to fill, to outline, to do shadows and
the 3d effects and specially due to the fact that I couldn't erase. I
guess this explains why I've always rejected to paint with oil, acrylic
or other ink, it just wasn't my thing. Plus, I've had always rejected
as well to have any type of art classes.
When I was 15 I've seen an
Hip Hop videoclip on the tv, where all the backgorund was graffiti. For
the first time I felt connected to something, mainly because it was
different. It was the unique art form in years that really gave me that
special feeling inside.
So I've grabbed my pen and a sketch book and
Íve started to practice. A few weeks later I got my first cans and did
the first piece, without knowing anyone who even liked graffiiti. That
came with time and with it I was able to paint in so many times and in
so many different spots that graffiti turned the biggest virus in my
life. It was 7 years ago and nowadays I keep so active and still hungry
2. Why do you write graffiti? What does it mean? What are you trying to communicate?
write graffiti because my head and my heart demands me to write.
Because I wake up and I go to bed with graffiti in my mind. Because
it's the only thing that makes me forget my problems and my sadness
completely. Because it makes me happy. Because I couldn't be more
addicted to something as I am with graff. And I could go on and give
you so many reasons why I do it.
I do it for myself, just as simple
as that. Even when I do a graffiti job I still do it for myself, but
adapted to the client. Doing it for myself means that I just
communicate what I am. I usually don't have an explicit message, I
don't like it to be that way. I don't like people to look at my piece
and understand it so quickly that they will not look twice. I want
people to be glued and stuck to it. I want them to understand what took
me to do that specific artwork, or at least to make them think. If they
do, I've made my day. And if they follow my work they'll start to get
to know me, maybe understanding me, maybe agreeing with me and maybe
feeling close to me. The most amazing thing is that if they try to
imagine how I look like they have no idea. That makes me feel how
strong can be an artwork placed on the street.
3. How do you do your big graffiti pieces? It seems as if they take a long time, do you get the permission of land owners?
only paint with permission, so I can take all the time in the World,
even though I work fast and a day is usually enough to do a medium size
piece. In Portugal city councils don't support graffiti, they don't
care about graffiti artists, they just want to stop graffiti vandalism.
So the only way for you to grow up as an artist and have opportunity to
work is to try to legalize walls for your own. I use to knock on doors
with my portfolio and try my luck.
4. What is the graffiti community in Portugal like? Do the artist work together? Or are they in competition with each other?
graff community here is similar to almost every country. We are a small
country but we have amazing artists here, who work together many times.
But there's always competition, you can not avoid it. Mostly between
bombing / train writers, who buff each other and keep little wars
. It's normal, you have your own spots, your risky pieces, you want to
keep your name and fame and in the ilegal side it's a race, a constant
race. I see competition as a good thing, if healthy. Without it you
have no one to push you, to make you be a better artist, you see what I
mean? But when competition means violence I'm completely against it.
Graffiti is the opposite of violence.
I was in Lisboa one month ago (I am in Milfontes now) and I was really
impressed by how much really good graffiti writing there was all over
the buildings. How do you think most people in Lisboa feel about
graffiti? Do you think they like it?
as you know I live in Gaia (Porto), in the North side of the country,
but I know Lisbon graff scene very well and have painted there a few
times. I couldn't agree more with you in the quality you've mentioned.
Lisbon is actually the most advanced graffiti city in the country
because there are more writers there and the graff scene in Portugal
actually began there. So Lisbon cityzens are now used to it, and accept
it more, but it's obvious that a lot of people don't like it. Those are
the older ones, who don't understand it, who are not open minded and
can't even separate art from vandalism. For them it's all the same and
it sucks. But of course there are people who like it, otherwise there
wouldn't exist graff job opportunities.
For more information on Mr. Dheo and further examples of his work visit:
The MR. Dheo Graffiti Homepage
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