Passion and skilled devotion: The Brazilian artist Fernando de Paiva speaks about his love for portrays and the beauty in the face of the ordinary
By Katharina Moser
Tattoos so detailed and delicate that they turn your skin into a true art work, portrays so vivid that the personas drawn look as if they could jump out of the page any minute and stand before you in full size, the strokes of brush and pen energetic and intuitive – that is the artwork of Fernando de Paiva, a multifaceted young artist based in Natal, Brazil. An exceptional tattoo artist and illustrator, de Paiva has made visual art his passion – and has convinced not only his peers in the art industry, but also famous international musicians of his talent, who make use of his art for their album covers, clothing, merchandise and more. “I love working with people in the media, illustrating album covers, and merchandising“, says de Paiva. He also has a degree in arts and is currently doing an academic master’s degree. “I started to take my career as an artist seriously in 2009, when I entered college. In 2013 and 2015 I started working with big companies doing collabs, and with big names in music“, de Paiva tells us. Among those household names are Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus from the legendary American pop-punk band Blink-182.
Apart from his tattoos, de Paiva mainly does striking portrays – of ordinary people like you and me just as much as of stars and celebrities in music and sports. “I have always been fascinated by drawing people. This has increased my artistic and technical repertoire“, de Paiva says. “A few years ago, I started to create my pieces and work more with line, to generate something more graphic, and until today I am still delighted with that.“ His art works convey a unique atmosphere and charisma. “I’m really looking for a visual identity that people will look at and say: Fernando Travis designed this. I invest a lot in trying to have a unique style“, he tells us. “Mostly I derive my inspirations from everyday life and music. I love music, maybe because I played drums for many years, so I value music artists a lot, and I dedicate myself a lot to listening to music while I paint.“ Among his collaborations is also the US-rapper Yelawolf for whom de Paiva designed the cover of his “Mud Mouth” album. But for de Paiva, it is not only about celebrity culture and fame, but also about the beauty in the faces we encounter every day. “I really like to portray people who are ordinary, who are present in everyday life – too often we don’t notice their beauty and particularities”, de Paiva says. “But of course I also like to paint people with a high media presence. I had the pleasure of working with some, Yelawolf is an example of an artist that I admire, and I did official work for him.“
De Paiva´s art collection is an interesting blend of realist paintings and lifelike drawings, and products of fantasy, motives and creatures drawn from the creative mind of the artist itself. “I like to do both real and fantastical pieces. Drawing real people helps me to be artistically mature enough to create fantasy pieces.” Immersing oneself in the drawings and designs, it feels like his works do not only portray people the way they look from the outside, but they also seem to grasp their inner features and put their particular charisma on paper. “I try not only to resemble a photograph in painting, but to represent sensitivity, naturalness and essence. Seeing yourself through another perspective, another medium such as painting or drawing makes people understand how relevant and important art is.“ For de Paiva, art is not only essential for society, human self-reflection and cultural diversity, but also part of every fiber of his personality and life. “Art is my life, that’s a fact. I wake up thinking about drawing, I think about painting all the time. It helped me to have discipline and perseverance. I believe in the dream of being recognized and in a dignified life through art. And I fight daily for that“, he says passionately.
One way to live out his talent and love for art among like-minded people is the so-called Sullen Art Collective he is part of. Established in California in 2001, Sullen got its start from being heavily influenced by Southern California beach culture and tattoo inspired art. With a strong focus on ideals and practices of modern tattooers, Sullen evolved from a small group of art driven tattooers and artists into a world renowned art collective that designs clothing and apparel. “It’s an honor to be among so many renowned artists from around the world, to be one of the only ones from my country to represent it”, de Paiva says. “It makes me very happy as it’s a very select collective. It is really one of the big dreams I had to be part of this family, it makes me believe that I am on the right path.“
To be part of an internationally recognized art collective is not at all to be taken for granted for an artist coming from Brazil, as de Paiva says. Being from Brazil, he often feels underrepresented in the art industry. “Yes, always, it’s very difficult to live off art in Brazil. I have more relevance outside my country, even in my city I don’t get so much recognition.” As de Paiva tells us, people mostly assign more importance to what comes from outside of Brazil. “I dream of being recognized abroad and being able to use that in my country.“
With the energy and ambition that de Paiva puts into his artistic progress every day, his fellows are sure that his dream of dignity and recognition are within reach. De Paiva, being his own most critical judge, dreams big for the future: “My goal is to live with dignity and be recognized. It is my dream to earn my doctorate in arts and to work with people I admire.” De Paiva wants to continue working with bands such as Queen of the Stone Age, Blink-182, and Yelawolf among others. „That makes me feel like I’m with them“, de Paiva says. And exceptional talent as an artist and his admiration for music has not gone unnoticed by those musicians he admires – they have found a like-minded soul of an artist all the way across the border of Brazil.