Vanessa Teodoro is an illustrator and street artist living in Lisbon, Portugal. “My art is a reflection of what’s going on in my life and the way I wish things were. Sometimes you can find some headless men (ex-boyfriends) and chubby ladies that kick ass flying about in my work.” Tedodoro’s characters manifest from her own life experiences as well as the thing she loves – graffiti, tattoos, African patterns and even comic books. Many of her pieces feature strong female icons such as wonder woman, but often with a humorous and colorful twist.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Vanessa moved to Lisbon and worked for 3 years as a art director for advertising agencies. The commercial arena gave her a knack for self-promotion and taught her how to handle selling her artwork.
“I’m quite the feminist myself,” says Vanessa. One of Vanessa’s defining attributes as a street artist is that she is a woman. “It’s not a common thing yet, seeing girls with spray cans that are not afraid of breaking a nail. I’m trying to show younger woman and other female artists that there’s a whole world out there (on the big empty walls) and that it doesn’t have to be illegal either…. All the work I’ve done so far on the street has been commissioned and legal. So the world needs more female street artists and maybe joining ‘forces’, collaborating and not always having that female competitive vibe going on, we can rule the world (and the walls)”
Vanessa has worked with brands such as MTV, Vodafone, TMN, Optimus, Citroen, WESC, Eastpak, Playboy, Compal B and Canon.
Interview with Vanessa Teodoro
Sophia/Q: When did you begin making street art and when did you decide you wanted it to be your career?
Vanessa: The street art adventure started as a curiosity, I asked a writer friend of mine if he wanted to do a collaboration. It was to paint a large outdoor area in a city hall organized event. He said yes, and that’s how I started to intervene in a more urban outdoor environment. This was back in 2008, which is not that long ago. At the time I was working in advertising agencies as a junior art director, so if was a breath of fresh air to get my hands dirty again. Now I work professionally as an illustrator that by the way also does street art. I don’t think that I can make a career out of this, but while the “hype” of it all is making people and companies pay for it, keep ’em coming!
Q: How would you describe the street art community in Lisbon? Is it in general collaborative, or is there more emphasis on individualism?
Vanessa: Lisbon is a big-small city and everybody know one another (in a good or bad way), and because of that you would think that collaborations would be more frequent, but they aren’t. People here are more concerned about their own self-exposure / “individualism”. Of course you can find the whole “krew” art scene going on, where the writers work together, but not always. With artists that aren’t writers, things are more of a “do what you can to make it”, so you can imagine that, plus being a chick in a “man’s world”.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists & where do you draw inspiration?
Vanessa: I don’t have a particular style or artist that I get inspiration from, sometimes it’s more of a random web search or going through books and magazines. But, I do have favorite artists that inspire me to go that extra mile, such as: Yuko Shimiso, Remed, Broken Fingaz, Aryz, Miss Van, Lister and soooo many others. (I’d love to have more female artist in that list) I just discovered this cool magazine that only promotes creative woman: Curvy.
Q: What are your hopes for the street art community in the future?
Vanessa: That it won’t be used as just a way to show your name, but to do something useful for the urban environment.
Q: What has been your favorite project to date?
Vanessa: It was this 70m wall I painted with 3 other artists in Lisbon, for the Pampero art foundation. First because it was huge and I love collaborations, painting alone is so lonely.