Cast your memory back to the days of finishing a long hard day of scratching cartoon penises into school desks; switching on the television, and zoning out. Your two-dimensional friends are there guiding you to a land where there is no homework, no bills, no worries, and no responsibilities. Maybe you didn’t know it when you were still collecting Pokémon cards like tesco clubcard points: but you were the happiest you’ll ever be. Salmos is a Brazilian artist who has captured that nostalgic feeling, and sprays it into an array of character designs that he fuses with his own style, inspired by the streets of Sau Paulo.
“The best part of childhood is the memories of sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons. I was happy, even if I didn’t know it. There were no bills or taxes to pay. Doing graffiti using these old
characters is the perfect union to bring good vibrations, good feelings and good memories!”
When Salmos describes his journey into artistry, his love of the vibrancy of his home city lights up his words. “I started to paint seeing works of the few artists who were here in São Paulo in the nineties. It was the best time for graffiti here in my city! It was all new and we learned some new techniques every day. Painting techniques were few, and it took a lot of effort to reach something you were happy with. The discovery of new things in what I do has always fascinated me".
When talking of his early years in the constantly evolving world of graffiti, you’re also reminded of the struggle and determination that being an artist in the nineties entailed: "I remember one trip, where I saw a wall that had been covered by some of the big graffiti artists of the time. I got off the bus before my stop to see if there were any paint nozzles that had been left behind on the floor. We had nowhere to buy them here.”
Firmly rooted in his city’s cultural history, Salmos retains a love for adapting his work for his surroundings, a technique which makes flexibility and happines a natural element in his designs. “I like to get a feel for a place and give the work out what the space needs. I found this is the best way to bring good memories to people on the street. We live in a world of little opportunity, and any pleasure that I can get to the people here is a victory.”
Piercing his effortlessly upbeat and optimistic view of the world, is an underlying passion, and obvious talent for bringing joy to the masses in the face of a world which sometimes seems bleak. Salmos seems to take the concept of global nihilism into his own hands and refuses to accept defeat. A heart of gold penetrates his designs and translates his dominating attitude into simple terms: the happiness of generations is represented by Salmos in the curved lips of a passer-by. “Art moves in a different way with every single person. It embodies the feeling that the viewer is experiencing at a specific moment in their lives. In my art I try to bring positive to things and always feel pleasure. I feel good about it. Sometimes in the street someone suddenly appears...an adult with a child who does not even know the character I'm doing. The Father gets that gleam in his eye and is soon talking about the character and often retelling things about the character I’ve never heard before. It’s great.”
“I do not like the idea of leaving my graffiti serious. The purpose of graffiti is to have fun and always will be! I'm in a very good place now: traveling and taking my art to people and places that I never thought I’d know. I love it.”
Part of the joy in Salmos’s work is its simplicity. There is no convoluted method to his playful creations. There is only memory, environment, and feeling. “I am a cheerful person and my art conveys exactly what I am. I get a lot of influence from where I am at the time of drawing. It’s what I'm feeling. One time I was at the airport and a drawing of a helicopter emerged; in a petshop I drew my Garfield. I never liked cats, now my house is full of them. That’s feeling, that’s how it goes...”
Words by Meg Ellis