Self-taught Brazilian artist Vini is no stranger to breaking boundaries. As an only child, he re-created his own version of everything, retrofitting the world to his own unique aesthetic. Limitless time and imagination were his tools for storytelling—his ideas grew so detailed he developed anxiety. “I worried a lot as a child. It only became clear to me two years ago that anxiety was and still is a staple to my creative force.” Now he redirects his mind through art to help heal.
What was your childhood like?
It was a very nice period of my life. I always had family and friends around me and I played a lot with them and by myself… mostly by myself. I loved to play with action figures and make them perform the stories I created in my head. I also loved to “direct” stories with my friends like we were in a movie. I usually came up with a plot idea and we would improvise around it, it was so much fun!
I never liked to be restricted to guidelines. I loved playing with LEGO but found the instructional manuals boring. I would take the materials and reconstruct whatever I wanted. I loved playing with Tazos, those collectible disks where each one had a score value and the goal was to win Tazos from other players. I created my own Tazos (they were pretty cool) and my friends went crazy to collect them.
Despite happy memories, my childhood was also a place where I collected trauma that I still deal with to this day. I was an only child (until age 14), and a very worried one. I was concerned with my parents health and safety, as well as with mine, and very afraid of death.
Even though I was a creative child, I didn’t like to deal with the unexpected and unknown in the real world. If there was a chance to play with or do something new, I would create hundreds of what-if scenarios before doing so and wouldn’t do it if I found it too risky.
VINI EARLY WORK (2013)
What is your first memory of creating something?
I don’t have an exact first memory, but I was always creating stories in my head as a little kid. Most were to entertain myself. My parents were usually late to pick me up at school, so I’d imagine what happened to them to make them delayed. Like I said, I worried a lot as a child. It only became clear to me two years ago that anxiety was and still is a staple to my creative force.
When did you become a freelance artist? What is that process like?
My background is in graphic design. I stopped drawing at age 12 to pursue music, but switched back when I turned 23. I studied marketing and got a job as a UI/UX designer at a tech company. UI/UX was not my passion, but it did tap me back in to my creative side. I started drawing and working on personal projects again. I was very passionate about it, so I started accepting freelance illustration jobs—making album art, beverage labels, tarot cards, t-shirt prints, concept art for mobile games, etc.
Through this process I discovered what I enjoy most is making things for myself. Freelance jobs helped improve my skills, but I now turn down most job offers so I can dedicate my time to personal projects and act as the Creative Lead for the same tech company who first hired me for UI/UX design.
Where do your ideas come from for your work?
“The Vastness Inside” - I don’t remember how I first thought of this phase but I know everything comes from there. There is a vastness inside each of us and it has its counterpart outside of us. You can feel the vastness of the universe when you explore the vastness of your own being. One can think that the universe is too colossal to have its counterpart within us as humans… that we’re unimportant, and that it can exist without us. But I believe it needs us to evolve and develop its own consciousness. The universe created life to transform energy into consciousness.
I believe that everything contains different scales of consciousness: every animal, plant, mineral, atom, planet, etc. Humans play a big role in the universe’s plan... look how conscious we are! Since we’re part of the universe, I believe it’s our mission to somehow merge the vastness both inside and out.
Have you ever felt limited in your expression? How were you able to overcome it?
Yes! Always. I don’t think I am a good draftsman and that’s my biggest limitation. Fortunately, it’s something I can work and improve upon by studying and practicing. I do this a lot, but it’s a long road. I’m self-taught in everything I do, so this limitation always frustrates me. I want to be able to draw whatever I want. I still have much to explore to determine my style. I was once told to see limits as part of my current style—that’s a better way of looking at it. Even though I have yet to find a very VINI illustrative style, I have found my voice, and I’m proud of that.
Whenever there are creative blocks I know that if I do the hard work and relax, the answer will arrive at any moment, even if it’s something unexpected.
What themes are you exploring through your art? Have you noticed these shift during different chapters in your life?
Since becoming aware that my creative energy stemmed from anxiety, I’ve tried to reimagine it and use it for healing instead. I tell myself stories through drawing to continue healing. I love accessing stories through art—it’s like discovering worlds, new people or creatures with entire narratives. In the end, I am accessing snapshots of different realities and memorializing them so I can revisit them at a later time.
A recent theme is figure exploration and reflecting on the existence of a human or non-human. I like to capture situations that cause them to question important aspects of themselves. I love space and multi-dimensional realities, the night, the ocean, the desert, eyes, and humans.
Do psychedelics play a role in your work?
For now, only in theory. I’ve never tried psychedelics but intend to take ayahuasca. It’s interesting which doors of perception substances can open for us. I like the idea of accessing the multiverse through psychedelics.
Which mediums are most challenging for you? Which are easiest?
Ink on paper is the most challenging medium for me, but I also think it’s the most magical. Maybe that’s why I’m so afraid of working with it. I can’t fully control this aspect of witchcraft, and I’m not totally comfortable with a result that’s beyond my control. It’s something I’m currently working on and will eventually master.
Digital is most comfortable. Buying an iPad changed my life. I started to draw a lot more without feeling so frustrated with the result. I have high standards for art references and solid eyes to tell me what I do and don’t like, but I still don’t have the hands and techniques to create without a plenty of undos.
Do you have a favorite piece? Which is it and why?
I have three pieces that combine to make my favorite piece. I found my voice through Andromeda #01, The Lighthouse and Us, Divine so they are special to me.
If have to choose one, it’s definitely Trippin… it made me discover that I’m capable of writing and drawing a comic book. I’m working on that now.
Who/what are your sources for inspiration?
Music takes me from where I am and places me where I need to be in order to create. It has the power to send me to different worlds so I can witness what to draw. I also feel that I’m able to access the feelings and thoughts of associated with the song’s mood. Moderat inspires me the most. Any exceptional soundscape or instrumental albums works as well. Put on Brian Eno or Jean-Michel Jarre on and my mind will ramble away.
To be honest, sometimes I feel like I am endlessly inspired. Everything I see, feel, or hear causes me to think and connect and create. This can get overwhelming and it’s a long road to develop ideas. Books and movies are also inspiring. There’s a book I’ve read, Aniara, by the Swedish writer Harry Martinson. It fries my brain just from its synopsis. I don’t even like the movie Melancholia, but the idea of facing the inevitable end makes me think. Artists that inspire me: Charles Burns (the best!!!), Jaime Hernandez, Dave Gibbons, Alex Toth, Moebius, Felix Vallotton (the black and white prints) and the Brazilians Lourenço Mutarelli and J Carlos.
How would you describe the Brazilian art scene?
Full of incredible artists with little support. That’s the brilliant curse of being an artist in Brazil - everyone creates gold from immense challenge. Luckily the internet helps generate deserved exposure. There’s a small art community in São Paulo with spaces and opportunities.
What does your dream project or creation look like?
I just started both of them: one is a series of illustrations with creatures where we are invited to witness their reactions and reflect with them. I am creating soundscapes to accompany each of the pieces.
The other project is my first comic, which is nspired on a specific event in my life. I’m not sure when they’ll be finished—hopefully by next year, so I can begin the next dream projects.
How do you envision art in the future? In 2120, what do you foresee as the medium? How much value will be placed on art and artists?
I’m optimistic. In 2121, traditional and digital artists will still play a big role and be even more valuable. The easier it becomes for someone to create something will make harder ways more magical. I don’t believe AI will replace artists. We are people who are legitimately interested in other people and not in machines. When playing games, we are not that interested in NPCs but in the characters that other people control. People can write prompts and create amazing art with AI, but the more a person puts themselves into something, the more interesting it gets. I think this will create a golden era for digital art.
To view more of VINI's work, visit Instagram.