Artist Spotlight: Simon Teigeiro
Simon Teigeiro (@ox3_art)
Welcome to another artist spotlight! I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year of these. They’re so much fun. Today I would like to introduce you to Simon Teigeiro.
Simon Teigeiro is an incredible fine artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA). I met Simon through a mutual friend Skyrenia, who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in August. Simon’s calligraffiti style work is stunning and there is no question his broad artistic background has enabled him to develop his own signature style of the artform.
I’m stoked to be able to share this interview with you today. Simon is a textbook example of how discovering the “why” in your artwork will inevitably lead to success, as it has for him.
Sir! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me! Would you mind speaking about your background and how you got into art and calligraffiti? How long have you been creating?
That’s always the hardest question to answer but I’ll do my best!
I’ve been heavily interested in art since before I can remember. When it comes to my family, most of the artists are pretty distant, however my two older brothers held a lot of interest in art during their high school years.
Being the youngest, I was heavily interested in anything they were doing. So I can’t help but feel they are the reason I am doing what I am doing now.
That ultimately is more subconscious than conscious. I didn’t truly start thinking of myself as an artist until my sophomore year of high school when I started doing automotive photography. Shortly after getting used to shooting cars, my interest grew further as I learned to edit using photoshop.
Then by senior year of high school I was nearing the end of my interest in the real, and started creating much more abstract/ psychedelic digital work.
So to get back to the direct question, I would say I have been a serious creator since 17. My brother Alex got me hooked on the EDM music scene around that time and after a couple events with live painters, I was pretty convinced that’s what I wanted to do with my life. However I didn’t start painting until 19, so 3 years ago, and didn’t start calligraphy/calligraffiti until last November.
What is the art scene like in Milwaukee? Are you close with other creatives that help drive your creativity?
The art scene is on the rise along with a lot of the city. There are some really talented artists in the area. I met a lot of my local art connections and friends through my studies at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
There have been a lot of artist I’ve been close with through my creative path and with out any doubt each one has inspired me in one way or another. However more recently, I have been working in collaboration a lot more than I used to. Working collaboratively has made an extreme difference to my creative process and I really enjoy the idea of exchanging creative energy with another creator.
One artist I’ve been working closest with is Juleon McGinnis (@eonfoto). He’s a local photographer/videographer from Milwaukee who I crossed paths with during high school. We started working together recently with the mindset of pushing each other’s craft through the art of collaboration. I’d say we have both become a huge part of each other’s creative process and it’s been extremely rewarding working with him. We just moved into a new studio space together so we are excited to continue working along side one another and keep progressing our art.
Let’s talk about your work. It’s unbelievable! The words “psychedelic”, “tribal”, and “vibrant” come to mind, but words really don’t do it justice. What inspired you to begin pursuing this style?
Ever since I was introduced to the EDM music scene I was really intrigued in this style of abstract art. It seemed free from a lot of the rules that other art seemed to have engrained in its history. However I’ve definitely had a lot of different styles through my creative path.
The earliest inspirations grew from my experiences with psychedelics. However eventually I wanted to continue to have these experiences with out having to induce any substance, even if it was natural. That’s when I began to use meditation as a guiding force to my art.
A lot of my abstract landscape style of art came from experiences I had while sitting in meditation. I really enjoyed pushing my boundaries with what I was able to create on the canvas after having a mentally/visually stimulating experience with meditation, however eventually I felt too comfortable in the creative process, and I longed for something new to add to the work. Around the time I began to have this realization, I got into a pretty severe accident while riding at the skate park. I broke my elbow on my painting arm as well as a couple teeth.
During the recovery process I wasn’t able to physically create for 3.5 weeks. Which at first was killing me, but then I decided to use the time to re think what it was I was ultimately doing with my art. By this time art had been a heavily spiritual based practice for me. It was most directly the way I was able to process the information I was learning and meditating on as well. But I was still very intrigued to continue to grow as an artist, and felt I need to bring another layer into the work. Which is when I began to look at writing.
I had just started working with Sanskrit mantras a few weeks prior to my accident, so I had been trying to think of a way I could use them in my art. So I began looking at different typography styles to pull inspirations from. After some time of looking I stumbled into the calligraphy / calligraffiti world. I had been familiar with artist like Retna, Cryptic, and El Seed prior to looking into the movement, but I hadn’t realized how large of a movement it really was until I learned about Niels Shoe.
Once I saw the grand scale of what this movement had to offer, I was really interested to see if I could use it to begin adding mantras directly into my paintings. So I decided to give it a try as soon as I was able to hold a brush again, and I haven’t stopped since!
When it comes to “calligraffiti”, it’s really something different. Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from for your compositions?
At first I was pulling almost all of my inspiration from other artist in the movement. For me it’s been a natural process to begin by “copying” what others are doing to learn the technique behind it, and then to look away and turn more toward my internal experiences for inspiration.
So that’s exactly what I did with calligraphy/ calligraffiti. A few artists that were major inspirations are Cryptic, El Seed, Retna, Pokras, Mayonaize, Odintri, Zepha, Warios, the Inkman, and Astro. I’m sure I’m forgetting some as well, but I was definitely looking at their work a ton in the beginning.
After some time I stopped paying as much attention to out side influences, and started working from what I knew personally. This is when the work really began to feel as my own.
Intention is the largest factor in my work now. Each painting begins with the process of setting an intention. This normally means choosing a mantra I want to work with, however sometimes it’s as simple as an emotion or feeling. From there the rest of the work just begins to flow. I’m extremely interested in allowing the work to create its self. So a major component to my practice is remaining as conscious in the creative process as I can. Things like conscious breathing, meditation, and frankincense have all become a ritual in my painting practice.
Ultimately my compositions build up in multiple layers. It’s become a process of pulling what I like from old paintings I’ve done, and mixing that with new ideas and intentions. It’s kind of like making up a story to teach a lesson. You pull from what you know, and you create something new.
What would you say is your favorite project that you’ve done?
That’s a really hard one to answer because I value every project equally, knowing they have all been important to get to where I am now. However, my senior thesis was definitely one project I went all out on and was extremely happy I did. Being able to create a full-scale installation had been a goal of mine for so long, however having the space and budget to do so was always standing in my way.
The intention behind my thesis project was to create a full-scale installation that would act as a place of peace for all. The mantra I wrote over and over again in the space was chosen for its inclusive quality, it was ultimately a way I could use my work to be larger then myself. The mantra in Sanskrit, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, translates in English to May all being everywhere be happy and free, and may the words, actions, and thoughts of my own life contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.
The process for my thesis was the same as all my other paintings, which scared me a little in the beginning. I chose the mantra just a couple days before I began to install the work, which meant I saved myself no time for planning the space. Aside from the mantra, and the basic intention, I knew nothing of how the space would turn out. So I was equally surprised with the outcome as everyone else who saw the work.
A huge highlight of that project was the collaboration that took place in my space. I invited two very talented Yogis (Courtney Goon & Michelle Cartwright) to come practice in the space, as well as a crazy talented Videographer (Derek Rickert) to create yet another piece of art in the space.
Between brushes, markers, paint… it appears you use quite a diverse set of tools. What (if any), are you favorites?
I love each tool for different reasons. However one tool that I particularly enjoy using is a squeegee! A lot of my backgrounds begin with different squeegee techniques that I’ve slowly added to my arsenal over the years. One of my favorite aspects of the squeegee is the freedom it allows. Maybe it’s because it’s the background, but anytime I’m using the squeegee it feels as if I don’t have to think. I just move the paint around until it feels right. It’s a hard thing to put into words, but it is a really interesting feeling I always have.
I love how you’ve blended your art with the human form in some of these professional, studio-style photoshoots. Very cool! What inspired this?
There are a couple reasons I wanted to expand off the canvas more recently. The main inspiration behind painting clothing was allowing the work to meet a different audience. Collecting art in the form of canvas paintings is a very specific audience. However, affordable custom clothing seems to be a much larger audience. So ultimately it was a combination of expanding my art into a new medium, as well as making something more approachable for my audience.
Are you working on anything new at the moment? What can the world expect from you in the next year/couple years?
Yes I am for sure. I’m currently involved in 3 projects that I am not able to show off at all. Which has been extremely difficult, however it should be extremely rewarding in the end. One project I am particularly excited for should be finished come summer 2018. It’s a collaborative mural project that will be one of (if not the) largest murals in Milwaukee!
As for the next couple years, my goals are definitely more public oriented. Once I complete the projects I have on the plate now, my plan is to continue to push the scale of my work as well as the location. The world can definitely expect to be seeing lots of new projects popping up in new places around the globe! I’m really excited to get into some mural festivals around the world and just keep creating in general!
If you had to give one piece of advice to an aspiring artist, what would it be?
I have a lot of advice I’d give to someone looking to progress as an artist. However the most important thing I think is to stay focused and put the time in. However I think in order to really be able to dedicate the time and energy, you need to have a reason you’re doing it. For me art has been a necessity for spiritual development. So putting in the work everyday is more of a ritual then just a job. It’s become an essential part of my daily practice.
So ultimately my advice is, find why you need to make art/ be creative. Once you know, get addicted to the progression toward your goals, and put in as much work as you possibly can.