The fantastic graffiti artist OTITO is certainly one of the Kings in São Paolo, his artworks are masterpieces and so are the creations of his crews and collectives. The walls he paints with other writers are always just phenomenal! Bright, bold colors and finely crafted lettering. In this article you will get more about OTITO‘s art, about graffiti in Brazil and also about the extravagant style Pixação.
OTITO is involved in countless groups, crews, collectives and projects, but his heart beats for his main crew, the DOIS MIL FAMÍLIA or 2 MIL FAMÍLIA. We talked extensively with the creative artist in an interview and also provide some good link research. All mentioned artists, groups, crews, collectives, events or art locations can be found with direct links in the text and also with more details at the end in the “Infothek”.
First tell us how it all began. Let’s give some history information of your artistic development for the readers.
I was educated and influenced by cartoons and comics, which inspired me to develop some drawings on paper, even creating a comic book at school together with some classmates. Needing to contribute to my family’s income, I started working and having to go to the most central region of the city. There I began to notice and got inspired by the most diverse writings and drawings on the walls I passed by. And so in 1989 I created a typography for the name R.A.P.T.O. I then left the sheets and papers and began to intervene on the walls with paint, roller and spray paint. This is how I continued until mid-1995, when I began to study Hip Hop graffiti and started to learn about its styles and techniques. And at this time together with some friends we decide to write “DOIS MIL FAMÍLIA”.
You are a king artist, but you also support the younger generation and teach wisdom to the “new” ones. What is your philosophy about this?
I believe and have faith in the simultaneity of cause and effect, just like the lotus flower that is born, blooms, and distributes its seeds. I continue at the same time learning and teaching, sharing my knowledge and this is how I develop my community and my friends, thus practicing the philosophy of the inseparability of life and its environment, where in order to develop I need that everything around me also develops.
Your style is lettering and you are a writer. You put the letters on the wall in many different styles and colors. Tell us more about it. They are just single letters, but you can represent them in so many ways.
Yes, I am very identified with the style of painting letters, and I feel very good doing it. I realize there are no limits to it and I’am always looking for different and nice combinations. I feel the letters are alive, and with each new paper I sketch them on and for each new project it gets newly developed and executed. It is a wonderful path to follow with typography, pix, throw-up, piece, wildstyle or 3D. My letters are more of a piece style but they also have a certain wild style feel to them, and thus I have made them known as Humble Style.
Are you only anchored in the letters and the graffti or do you also do figurative and characters?
I participate in some collective “thematic” murals, where it is necessary to make some drawing in my handwriting and collaborate with the construction of a background, this is a challenge and I always enjoy the result very much. I have characters that I have created over time and I also do some work with figurative drawings on demand. But nothing compares to the pleasure I have in developing and executing letters. Letters are very contradictory and little is said about the letter in the history of art. It is very fun this idea of turning the letter into a drawing and make it compose and harmonize with scenery, perspective, figurative or abstract drawings.
Your graffiti artworks shine. They look like a glowing, strong and colorful bright spot. You probably taught yourself many of these effects. And probably learned from others. How did you learn and what people were your role models?
For sure my connection with DEJOE, INKA, GREB, RIOT and SENOL were very important for my development as a graffiti writer, being able to receive them here in São Paulo and having the opportunity to meet and paint in Berlin are experiences that totally influence my painting and composition strategy. Always keeping my roots with the straight pixação letters, practicing and building with my friends that are the most diverse and genius. Those are of course DOIS MIL FAMÍLIA, like THUG ALONE, MILGRAU, BOLETA, SECURA, DHEST, INSÔNIA, SICK, BONE, PIXOTE, ETHOS, NICK and others. Those are great artists and friends that contribute a lot to my learning and my references.
Let’s talk about the tools you use to create your artwork. Is it exclusively spray cans? Or do you also use brushes, other paints or whatever instruments? Tell us a little more about your repertoire.
Yes, a good quality can is the best tool for me, an airless machine to zap the wall with floor paint is a guaranteed success, foam rollers, brushes, latex and water-based enamel paint help a lot, pens, markers and stickers cannot be missing, and when possible an acrylic varnish for protection and durability.
How do you paint a piece, how is the artwork created? Sure there is sometimes a process of planning, but it often just comes from feeling and momentum? How would you describe that?
In the beginning it is good to know the place where I am going to paint, it makes it easier to plan and make the work richer in details, I can research and sketch a reference to give me a base when it is time to paint. When possible I like to divide the work into two or three stages to conclude it. There are paintings that are very fast and I have to make the decision at the moment of how to intervene in the place. I believe that this is also very good, to adapt, to channel effort, time, intelligence, and sensitivity towards what I believe to be my way of life and social contribution. For me it is a privilege.
Tell us more about the other artists around you. What are the names of your crews and the collectives you’re involved with?
I really have many good artists and friends around me and I am very grateful to all of them without exception. Since 1995/96 some friends and I decided to write “DOIS MIL FAMÍLIA” in our graffiti. My spray partner MEDUZA is with me since before that, my daughter MIKI and my brothers ZAGZ and DOG2 keep this idea as well alive. We developed the project “Arte para Cidadania” (=”Art for Citizenship”) with graffiti workshops, valorization of local artists, cultural and artistic presentations together with the masters ALEX VINT3, RODRIGO TIK1 and OBRIGADO CREW. I am part of the Crews: “Os Alunos nota 7”, “Extremo Gueto Leste”, “Alt.169”, “Gangue do Alfabeto”, “Fala que eh Nóis“, “Abstract illism”, “Subjetivo Humano Coletivo”, “Ducontra”, “Nada.?.Somos” and “R.A.P.T.O.”, where I could participate and contribute with drawings or actions of intervention and collective construction.
How is the graffiti scene in São Paulo and in Brazil? How did it develope over the years and how do the state and the police deal with it? Is there a lot of repression?
Here in the city of São Paulo around 80 or 90 percent of the media and society have created a myth that Pixação and Graffiti are “different”. Pixação is a big crime and Graffiti art is to paint illegally, argue that it is Graffiti and get away unharmed. On the other hand this is also motivating a great hatred against Pixação. There have been cases of murder and extreme violence by the police and even the population itself went against pixadores. But Pixação and its practitioners are developing too much, especially here in the city and all over Brazil. They are gaining art status in the world, as well as all other forms of expression on the walls, like sticker, collage, stencil, pixo or graffiti. It is all in constant challenge and development. I am pleased to see old school artists in activity and I appreciate the quality and dedication. Many gigantic works and many new people are coming up. It is also true that it is necessary to go back to the source, to return to the primordial point. I believe everything has already been done, and it is always necessary to maintain respect for the origins. It is up to each one to do it their own way and write their own story.
Pixação has now also arrived in Germany and actually all over the world. For example in Berlin the artist PARADOX is doing awesome and crazy actions on huge buildings with this technique. But as you described it earlier, the origin is in South America and the artworks in Europe are the results of visits to you in Brazil or the countries around. Can you explain a little bit more what Pixação is? It originated with you guys and you have more background information. How would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know it?
Yes, I know PARADOX and I respect and admire their actions very much. The idea of taking a spray can and writing one’s name on the wall certainly did not originate here in São Paulo, many have done it before and in other places. I believe it came from an idea of communicating with other people. Right here one of the pioneers in the 70’s “Cão Fila KM 26” wrote a lot on the city walls. It was an advertisement for his channel. Later on, the politicians themselves wrote their names all over the city. With rollers and spray paint, some writing and then hiring workers to do it. One of these teams of workers liked this idea so much and realized the status of having their name written on the walls that they started writing their own names: JUNECA, PESSOINHA and BILÃO.
This caused outrage to their contractor, the later mayor of the city in 1985 (who, thanks to his name being pixelated all over the city, was elected mayor), and decreed the arrest in the city’s official journal of these 3 pixadores. This increased their notoriety even more and awakened their desire to be seen and noticed in many other young people all over the city. Later, the same notorious pixador emerged as a graffiti artist with a degree in plastic arts, and graffiti gained the status of a vandal who had once been a pixador, now a graffiti artist. But then he was already one among many who practiced pixação, which in the 90’s takes over the top of the buildings and monuments in the city and on all its major avenues with much evolution in its lettering and gang organization. Some murders occur at this time, like the murder of Bayan and Necrops, two young men who were executed while pixating, a lot of police violence and a lot of hate from society in general, but pixadores keep evolving, and renewing themselves…
It is a mixture of radicalism and extremism in different ways. When the pressure from the system gets stronger, the rebellious response has to be even more blatant and fantastic. No matter how strong a repression is, art and creativity always finds a way around it. I think that’s an important part of graffiti and resistance in general.
Yes, I read these sentences and I have to agree, the greater the challenge the greater the result of this goal, if the fight is against a powerful enemy, this fight resonates at the height of this enemy, and the art is by graffiti and pixação is a great tool in these fights, whether against the state or against critics or even against other artists and pixadores, if we are given a challenge or problem is to be faced and solved, and for sure, measured by my own experience is as if you were walking at your pace and with a challenge that arises is necessary to make a great leap. But even so I opt for harmony and collectivity, we adapt to difficult times and governments and we become stronger as a result and evolve, but harmony and collectivity are my greatest sources of inspiration, development and evolution.
I think there is a special energy in creativity and it is good for people to be creative. Everyone who is creative knows that. You can wake people up with it, you can change moods, you can inspire people and you can also make money with it. I think art in itself is just art. It is pure, a theory, an idea, an energy, a possibility.
Absolutely, it seems that we are talking about the soul itself, an energy that all humans possess so deeply and that connects us, whether through admiration or indignation. A true power, is to be able to produce something that gives meaning to our existence and that is able to communicate with other people from heart to heart.
How is it with the events with you in São Paolo? Surely there have been countless interesting jams and spray events since you started creating on the wall.
Here in São Paulo we have graffiti every weekend in the scheme of Mutirão. Someone from the neighborhood authorizes a wall with your community and invites several graffiti artists from other regions. Here in Brazil the paint brands do not have much interest in promoting meetings of graffiti artists. From time to time there happens a “Meeting of Styles” that has been promoted in partnership with two different national brands. I participated in the 2009 edition, in a neighboring city, in São Bernardo do Campo. The other editions were held in another state. Besides the Mutirões, we have conquered with the public power cultural edicts, where we compete with our idea. As long as it fits into a mold determined by the city hall. Here in my neighborhood we have the “Projeto Arte Para Cidadania” and the “Projeto Lado Leste“, we have the “Otitonickfest” held always on December 24th since 2008. Already with the exhibition we held the “2emente2” which was itinerant in several neighborhoods with graffiti, shows, workshops and exhibition in subway stations.
So you already had several exhibitions and you are open for collaborations not only in outdoor graffiti writing, but as well for indoor exhibition projects.
Yes, in the other question I ended up entering this theme talking about a group exhibition that I was part of the “2emente2“, I also participated in other collective “VIRA LATA”, “EXPO VINYL“, “FREE ART FEST” …. Whenever I am invited to something like this, I challenge myself to produce with maximum quality and attention, with good pens, paints and brushes. It is also very fun. A great motivator for me to paint canvas is undoubtedly INKA. We have painted canvas here in my house and also in Berlin. But when it is for myself, I always end up organizing myself to paint on walls.
You have been to Berlin, did creative things and painted a lot there. Tell us more about it. What was it like and what did you enjoy about the visit?
A big dream came true when I visited Berlin in 1989 and watched the fall of the wall on TV here in Brazil. And then in 2003 I received an invitation from my friend KALL, who in partnership with the GANGWAY COLLECTIVE. They promote hip hop exchanges. And together with DEJOE I managed to leave my Graffiti on the Berlin Wall. I also painted other murals around the city with STONE, NEON and NINA. I also painted a car where I met GREB who was still a child at that time. And this car painting has never been erased! Then I came back in 2011 when I had an even more street experience, painting a train in Heidelberg, painting inside the subway station, making a fire extinguisher tag and pixing a building together with LIFE, the former name of PARADOX. I was recently in Berlin in 2022 invited by the festival “ALL WE WROTE” and this Pixação on the building is still there. I simply enjoy every moment I am in Berlin, besides the graffiti and pixações the landscapes and friendships everything is very special to me.
Where else have you been in the world? Where else in the world can we find artworks made by you?
Besides Berlin and Heidelberg, I have also painted in Paris at the invitation of “Galerie Itinerrance” to participate in the project “Tour Paris 13“. It is really hard to think of traveling and not painting every time I have the opportunity. Even on a family trip to the coast of São Paulo, I always take my paints with me and leave a painting wherever I go.
And where would you like to go? Which countries, cities or events would you like to paint?
Here in Brazil I have only painted in Florianopolis. I have plans to paint in all the other states and throughout South America, but it is still only a dream. I also want to visit the birthplace of Graffiti. Means New York. And also Los Angeles, Japan, India, the whole African and European continent… Ah, the aspirations go far, maybe even to another planet.
For future visitors to São Paolo, whether artists or admirers, what places in the city can you recommend?
The city center and its gray walls, where you can always do some quick illegal painting, you can see dozens of graffiti on the sides of buildings. In the center is also where happens the point of pixadores every Thursday night. There is also the “Beco do Batman” in Vila Madalena, where you can find galleries of Paulistano and Brazilian street art. But the one place I recommend for painting is my neighborhood Sapopemba, where there are always good walls and graffiti is already part of the everyday life of the residents.
What would you like to tell the readers as a conclusion? What would you say to new artists, new writers and new creatives?
I thank Vagabundler very much, for this space and for being able to tell a little of this story that I help to write and build. I thank everyone who has dedicated time to this reading. What I can say is that I continue in this goal by painting my humble style and making graffiti murals. And this is the best I can produce to transform and be part of my environment. I believe this is the way. To do well what is good for you. To produce for your well being, your community and your environment.
When do you come to Frankfurt? We have many walls that need paint!
Where do I sign? I’m ready!!!! See you soon…
Artist: OTITO – SIDNEI SIMON OTITO
Crew: DOIS MIL FAMÍLIA – 2 MIL FAMÍLIA
MENTIONED ARTISTS, COLLECTIVES & EVENTS
Project: 2 EMENTE 2
Event: ALL WE WROTE
Big Cartel: https://dejoe.bigcartel.com
Artist: DOG 2
Collective: EXPO VINIL
Collective: FALA QUE EH NÓIS
Collective: FREE ART FEST
Artist: GRAB – GREB
Artist: INKA ONE – INKA
Artist: MES 3
Collective: NADA . ? . SOMOS
Artist: NINA – NINA PANDOLFO
Crew: OBRIGADO – OBRIGADO CREW
Artist: ONESTO – ALEX HORNEST
Event: OTITONICK FESTIVAL
New Movie: https://spiritual-letters.com
Project: PARIS TOWER – LA TOUR 13 en 360°
Online Visit: Video Tour
Project: PROJETO ARTE PARA CIDADANIA
Project: PROJETO LADO LESTE
Artist: RIOT 1394
Artist: SENOL – SENOL KAYACI
Artist: TIK 1
Artist: THUG ALONE
Artist: VINT.3 – VINT – ALEX VINT.3
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