We’ve been lucky enough to catch a few moments with Nuno Viegas to ask him a few questions. This is what he had to say....
Nuno Viegas and MeLikePainting collab at UpFest (2017)
UA: Hi Nuno, I guess we might as start at the beginning. So your originally from Portugal?
NV: Yes, I was born in Faro but I was raised in Quarteira since my early days of life and lived there until I left Portugal and moved to Rotterdam.
UA: From the outside looking in there seems to be a thriving art scene in Portugal , what was the inspiration for your move over to Rotterdam?
NV: I left the country a few months after I finished my master studies at Universidade do Algarve. As we all know the economy is not the strongest characteristic of Portugal and it was never close to its fellow members in the European Union, specially from the countries from central and northern Europe. This is one of the main reasons for Portuguese people emigrate so much. Keep in mind - an average monthly income in Portugal is 600€ and an average house rent goes for around 400€, simple Mathematics will show you how hard it is to simply move out of your parents home...
For me it was no different. Especially because I come from the south of Portugal where the art scene and platforms are not as developed as say Lisbon or Porto. It would have been nearly impossible to build a career staying there.
I believe this looking from the outside is not so accurate, for the amount of great artists we have in the country, there aren't many succeeding in the art business and most of them struggle to make a living from it.
Until I moved to Rotterdam I never thought it would be possible for me to be at the stage that I am at this moment of my life, working with big institutions like Urban Nation or Street Art Today and belong to a circle of friends which includes some of my Idols, legends of this game and other people who are not artists but have a huge revelance to this scene, like Graffiti Prints.
It would have been impossible to achieve this from the south of Portugal that I wasn't even dreaming about it.
To resume, in the first place, when I moved from Portugal I was just aiming to find a brighter future.
UA: The scarf and the paint stained glove look like a motive you return to quite often. Can you explain a little how/why this reacurrs within your work and what it means to you?
NV: In my concept these items, aswell as all the others I have been painting, belong to the graffiti scene. Graffiti is what I talk about (Not what I do). I’m concernd about this topic as I see its definition getting more and more distorted and wrongly applied on a daily basis by a lot of people. I speak about its essence and show the world what graffiti is made of. Graffiti is what lead me to the art scene, it was my only link with arts when I decided to quit my studies in Computer Engineering and later join the studies in Visual Arts. It changed my life and I have a huge respect for this culture. So I wan't to make sure it is documented correctly in history.
Snik and Nuno Viegas collab for UrbanNation's Unity Project WIP (2018)
UA: When you paint I’ve seen you cover the wall with small symbols first, I’m intrigued to find out if there’s any meaning behind this?
NV: This is just a "grid" to scale up the sketch. Some artists use the old technique of the squares grid which takes you a lot of time to set up. Other artists go with the quickest option and project the sketch to the wall. Then you have the very very very skilled artist who look at the sketch and just scale it up freehand, honestly I don't know personally any artist who can do this and keep the proportions in place, specially when it comes to hyper realism.
I'm quite sure the ones who introduced this technique to the game were Telmo Miel, the Dutch artist duo.
The symbols itself are just whatever comes to your mind at the time. I usually use symbols that recall to my hometown, like the fish, the anchor, the zip code of my hometown, the sun and so on...
UA: The folded paper included in your artwork is covered in the tag Metis. Was this your tag when you first started and still use to this day?
NV: Metis is my "legal wall" tag, it came up around 2001 when I founded the Policromia Crew with my mate Menau. I still use it nowadays whenever I hit a wall for fun - a legal one.
UA: So when planning these pieces do you create them in real life to realise your ideas?
NV: As I suck at drawing, all my paintings come from photos. It all starts with a photoshoot and then I create the compositions in post processing.
UA: Pow Wow Rotterdam starts next week are you excited that this renowned festival is happening in your adopted home town?
NV: Definitely! It is great that the city is taking the first Pow Wow ever in Europe and I'm super greatfull I was invited to be part of it!
UA: Are there any other festivals you have planned in for this year?
NV: At the moment none for this year. I will just go to Italy to paint for Memorie Urbane and then I have a lot of studio work to do.
UA: I managed to catch you painting at upfest with Me Like Painting and saw your work in progress with Snik in Berlin so you obviously like working in collaboration, who... if you could choose anyone, would be your perfect partner?
NV: This is hard to say...
All collabs are different experiences, I concluded from the collab’s with Snik and Tymon (Me Like Painting) that even working with very different styles than mine we can reach very good work together. I have to say the easiest one to pull off until now was last year's collab with Fanakapan in Miami, it was very easy to come up with the idea, and the final work is one of my favorite walls so far.
If we are talking about an artist duo with me and other artist, to have a perfect match in the first place I would have to have a very good relationship with this person. So I guess my great friend Menau would be a serious candidate.
Nuno Viegas and MeLikePainting collab at UpFest (2018) Photo credit Hazza0569 on Instagram
UA: If you could choose anywhere in the world to paint where would you go?
NV: Teahupo'o - Tahiti
UA: Do you have any plans for some work in the UK? especially Manchester 😉
NV: Nothing planned at the moment.
UA: You’ve just finished an Installation/Sculpture piece at UrbanNation did you enjoy the process and is this something you would like to do more of?
NV: Installation was my main medium before I moved to Rotterdam and started painting.
I always wanted to get back to it and this year I had a chance to do so for a show in Rotterdam - "Route du Nord" this then triggered the installation with Urban Nation.
Hopefully you will see much more of this in the future!
UA: Last of all what is it you love most about being able to showcase your artwork in the streets?
NV: In the first place the scale that I'm able to produce, which is always much bigger than a regular studio canvas. Then the fact that for walls I work with spray paint and I love this medium! Most of all its a great way to display my work to the world as people can just pass by and see it live.
UA: Thank you so much for your time Nuno, it’s been great to get an insite of yourself and your work.
You can catch Nuno painting between the 15th-16th of September at POW! WOW! Rotterdam or his brilliant instillation piece is currently still on show at UrbanNation Berlin.