Bruno Smoky started his graffiti career in 2004 with his wife Shalak Attack, where he began painting on walls with spray paint in Brasilandia in Sao Paulo, Brazil and since then has become internationally recognized as one of the best graffiti talents with his explosive and dramatic colour combinations and trippy depictions of nature. In the last few years he has expanded his reach with participating in annual graffiti events in the United States such as Colorado Crush and Up Art. We had the chance to catch up with Bruno Smoky to ask him a few questions about his inspirations and philosophy on making art.
My first question is how did you get your sense of design?
well I think that I’m still on that process its a big self learning for me trying to get my best not just in design and concepts but also in color combinations and good flow, that’s what I’m always looking for in my path. Always when I’m painting I look back to see how much I did already and realize I still have so much to do and learn that its not even half of the standard that I’m looking forward to reach.
Do you study other artists and try to break their work down into a thumbnail to understand composition and apply it to your own work?
Back when I started it was very important that each graffiti writer have their own style, to not be a toy, ever. So I did my best to never copy anybody, what I did was drawing a lot and always doing sketches for each idea that I had. I have loads of black books with ideas and rough sketch’s of something that I thought or saw in the streets or something that I would like to see happen in real life so I translate it in my own style that I have developed in the last 7 years. I used to have a different style with less lines and colors but I got too tired of it so I started to add more elements, trying out colors and combinations and adding lines that sometimes not even need to be there but that I like, because it adds extra details and more visibility. I started with lots of letters in the first 8 years of painting in the streets but I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for. Beside the letters I was always trying to do some character or something else to make my letters more charming. So after a while I started just doing the characters or objects “Stuff” that I find interesting to paint and translate in my own style.
Your mural compositions are so dope and easily readable, you can tell you have a strong grasp on where to lead someones eye across a piece. In some ways the art you make reminds me of M.C. Escher or other artists that play around with illusions: where everything morphs from one element to another that makes the whole piece feel abstract. It’s so eye catching, so I’m curious what inspires you?
I try to find inspiration in everything, life in general but what most brings me creativity is the funny and dark side of it. Not always but most of the times. I like to get an a ugly idea and paint it in a fun way like with a lots distortions and big eyes and reflections everywhere, i feel like I don’t have to limit my self in anything when comes to do my work, even though some times i think my style is too clean.
When did you start making your art full time and what did you do before you were making your art?
I started to live from my art in 2007 and I moved to Rio de Janeiro where I got to do lots of Graffiti workshops, Murals, and commission pieces for companies, plus I never stopped painting for fun in the streets. It was always my motivation to keep doing My art for Living, but it wasn’t always easy. I suffered a lot, being only 18 years old and 6 hours away from my family I had only friends sometimes around and I lived by myself for 4 years doing tattoos and painting everyday sometimes just doing enough to pay the bills. It was hard but some of the best times in my life, I did so much. Before I stared to do Graffiti I used to be just a regular kid from my neighborhood hustling for money, motorbikes, drugs and parties, I got myself in so much trouble until I found Pixacao and Graffiti, I’ll be always glad to have discovered it in my life. It was like a cure for me.
Do you get most of your work off of people hiring you to do murals or illustration work?
I do mostly Murals and canvas, Illustrations I get a lots of demands but not always everyone realize how much work it takes but I do everything I want anyways because I don’t just do My art for money , I always try to have fun and enjoy Myself with it.
Or are you able to make enough of a living off of your personal work?
In the last 5 years back in Brasil and here in Canada I do enough to live and the best part of it is doing what I love .. of course sometimes there’s limitations, but I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t capable to. Sometimes you got be very diverse and always be open to something different from your style for make a living, I learn that a long time ago back in Rio.
In our interview with Dread, he mentioned that there is a renaissance going on right now in the world of graffiti art. Thanks to the internet artists from all over the globe are organizing themselves with things like Colorado Crush and Up Art to change the whole look of their city.You have been involved in both of these organizations, can you tell us about your experience with these events? How did people respond to your work and where do you see movement going from here?
Cool! so yes I mean its really good having events and organizations of those calibers calling you for their events and to be able to share our work in different cities and people in different parts of the world. Its amazing because the internet connects artists, but its not the same thing as going to an actual place and sharing work first hand. The world now with all the online connections you can do, makes everything way easier for everybody for sure. But I think that at the same time its becoming over saturated, its too much of the same things, there’s so much artists coping others and styles that became a category that everyone can do so much of the same recipe that to see some good and original work on those famous pages is becoming hard. There’s a lot of good artists still all over the globe that are not getting enough recognition because of it, but I know its the same thing that happens in music and in all kinds of art scenes.
You are also married to an artist, Shalak Attack, who does some beautiful mural work herself! Is this a business the two of you run together or are you both independent from each other?
yes I’m married with Shalak Attack its going to be 7 amazing years together with her, and we been learning so much together in those past 7 years. In one more year we will be sharing more years painting together then by our selves which is really cool about this whole history that we are building together which is The Clandestinos. We also have our own styles, independently she creates her own art work and I create my own too, for us its important we have a strong style individually and together when we paint we have our third style that we love to do as well. We support each others work and careers, I think that’s what makes our relationship super strong too. we are partners in life and art!
What would you recommend for an artist who is looking to progress as fast as they can in learning more about design?
At first I think if you really want have art for your life and have it as your passion and job you have to focus on it, draw a lot and spend a big time on it, because I leaned that as much time you spend doing the same thing you will get it really well, its not easy but I was pretty bad on it when I started but I believed on Myself and I never gave up. Like a mentioned up on the first questions, be original and authentic is super important.
Is there any specific practice you have developed or discovered over the years that has helped you get to where you are?
I think it was My hungry to learn and paint more and more and always trying something different really challenging my skills to see until where I could get and I still do the same thing, using new tools trying different surfaces 3d sculptures to study more depth of my work.
Any last words or shout outs are welcome!
shout out to:
ShalakAttack my Talented Partner!
Family in Brasil and here in Canada thanks for all the love and support!
all the Homies that I supported Me on the bad times and on the good ones in My journey respect!
And big thanks to you guys for the Invitation to do this interview which I really enjoyed doing it!
Big love to you all !!!!
Heres the wall we just finished in Miami!
Interview by Wesley Edwards