“I’m always looking to illustrate sincerely.” Alex Senna is an artist and illustrator from São Paulo. His style is distinct – lacking in colour but roaring with the full spectrum of emotions, his characters can soften the edges of even the toughest streets.
UCC: Describe growing up in Brazil.
AS: I had a great childhood, I grew up in the countryside, so there was a lot of green around. I lived in Sao Paulo, as a teenager, and the city there is very brutal. It’s really big and dangerous, so with time you get skills.
UCC: How did growing up in Brazil influence you artistic style?
AS: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I also really like comics, so I spent a lot of time reading, from Mad magazine to Spiderman, Mauricio de Souza and Ziraldo. UCC: You studied communications and spent ten years working in an advertising agency. What happened to make you want to change the course of your life to do what you are doing now?
AS: It was slow because I always knew that I was not happy with that. Working in advertising is massive, too many nights and weekends for me. It when I saw thats 10 year had passed and I was making nothing, and i saw others painting while I was wasting my time and my brain in that shit.
UCC: Had you been creating art for the streets before this?
AS: I got into the graffiti scene in 2006, so I was already painting in the streets at that time, but less than ai am now. By 2009 I was painting almost every day. In the streets you have more freedom to say whatever you want. UCC: Do you have a dream place to paint?
AS: Anywhere, I go with the flow.
UCC: Street art was decriminalised in Brazil in 2009. What were the positive/ negative impacts of this ruling?
AS: The positive impact is that you don’t go to jail, but you can still be prosecuted. Graffiti is still not legal, it’s just tolerated. UCC: The lack of colour in you work is perhaps one of its most distinctive features. Why have you chosen to favor black and white?
AS: When I started to paint in the street I used to do a lot of shit with colours, a lot – but when I was drawing I never used colour, I never liked it. I was just using it because that was the way and I thought that I should be using colour. In graffiti there was always a lot of colour. Besides that, I’m actually colour blind. Now, I’m free. UCC: You often depict couples in love. You also have the recurring character of a little bird. What attracts you to these characters and themes?
AS: Real life, I use my personal experiences as basis to do my stuff. The bird is like the cricket in Pinocchio, remember? He is the consciousness.
UCC: Do you have a specific message or purpose behind your art?
AS: I never think what other people think, I do it for myself, and if people like or not, I don’t care. I should not care, that’s not the point.
UCC: On your Instagram you have the by-line “Frustrated musician but honest artist”. What’s that about?
AS: I grew up with a lot of musicians around, and my brother is a musician too. To me was hard to see them palying and not be part of it. UCC: What’s in store for you next? Any shows on the horizon?
AS: I have a solo show here in Sao Paulo in May, after that I still don’t know, maybe something in Europe in the summer.
UCC: What advice would you give to young artists looking to make a profession out of their passion?
AS: What I learned is this; you can do whatever you want with your life, you are the size of your dream. Do it for love, not for money. Money is a consequence. UCC: Thanks so much for your time Alex, and best of luck with whatever the future holds!