Okuda San Miguel makes paintings and murals that definitely make the world a whole lot brighter. This Spaniard’s work, which is shown in more than 20 countries so far, has been classified as pop surrealism with a clear essence of street art or urban art.
He incorporates geometric shapes and images in every possible color, usually bright ones where he is hoping to change the world for the better and take on some controversial topics such as religion, war, capitalism and any sense of false freedom.
While not religious, he said in his bio that he believes that “God is inside every individual. The best way to live life is to be good and a peaceful person.”
Much to his family’s chagrin, Okuda got his start illegally painting on the street in 1996. Within a year, his work became recognizable in factories and streets of his hometown of Santander, Spain. In 2009, he toured with the IAM project with his work appearing in galleries in Berlin, Paris, London and New York.
He recently participated in the ArtRepublic event in Jacksonville, Florida.
He gets his inspiration for the world around him, other artists, from filmmakers, family and friends, music, fashion…Just about anything he encounters can be incorporated into his work.
Okuda San Miguel, who now lives in Madrid, connected with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his passion for positivity in art, how he got his start, why street art is so important, what he hopes the future will hold for him, where he hopes to travel, where to see his work next and more.
Michelle Tompkins: What is your full name?
O: Oscar San Miguel Erice
MT: What name do you use and an artist?
O: Okuda San Miguel
MT: Where are you from?
O: Santander, Spain
MT: How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
O: Spanish and English
MT: Please tell me about your family? How do they inspire or support your art?
O: They have always supported me except in the first years when I was doing illegal graffiti. But there’s always been a good relationship between us.
The most special thing is the new embroidery artworks that I am doing with my mum and sister. We’ve done around 12 different works in last 2 years. It makes us have a closer relationship because we speak every day while I am traveling around the world.
It is incredible how my mum found her passion trying to help me and taking part of all my gallery shows. I am very happy about that.
MT: How did you get interested in art?
O: I started creating in the streets doing graffiti around 1997. At the same time, I studied art in the institute and surrealist artists like Dali, Magritte or Ernst started to inspire me.
MT: Where or how did you get your training?
O: Painting in old factories and lost railway walls in hometown almost 20 years ago.
MT: Where do you get your inspiration for your art?
O: Inspiration comes from artists such as Dali, Ernst or, primarily, El Bosco. Or more contemporary artists such as Cleon Peterson, Os Gemeos or Kaws. But also from friends as Sixe Paredes, Daniel Muñoz or Spok Brillor. And I am inspired a lot by old cultures like Wicholes, Mayan, Incas, Indian, Japanese and African too. Also, traveling is a continuous source of inspiration.
MT: Do you stick with one medium or try different things?
O: I always need to try new mediums, formats and places.
MT: How did you move from ink to light?
O: I always need to get new feelings and sensations from my art.
MT: What kind of art excites you?
O: Surrealism, pop art, Renaissance, Egyptian, good abstract, geometric, African, Rome, Optical, digital, mapping, street art...
MT: What kind of art bores you?
O: Realistic paintings of usual actions, classic landscapes and portraits...
MT: Do you think artists have a responsibility to be moral? Political? Socially engaged? Do you think artists have a responsibility to explain or contextualize their art?
O: Yes, of course. There’s even more responsibility if you’re working on the street because different kinds of people can see it and feel it. But this a thing that motivates me to try changing ugly and grey places in a new positive and multicolored way.
MT: Who are some artists whom you admire?
O: Dali, Ernst, Magritte, Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, Kris Kuksi, Os Gemeos, Tomakazu Matsuyama, Cleon Peterson, Todd James, Interesni Kazki, Piet Parra, Smithe, Nano4814, Sixe Paredes, Daniel Muñoz, Amandine Urruty… but the king is El Boso.
MT: How do you define street art?
O: A creative intervention in public space.
MT: What drew you to street art?
O: I spent too much time in the street when I was a kid and I started to paint my letters and drawings in walls.
MT: Why is street art important?
O: Because it changes cities landscapes in a more cultural way. It brings art outside the museums to anyone in public spaces.
MT: What messages are you trying to convey?
O: The first message is positivism, but there are always deeper messages that each one can feel in a different way. It talks about contradictory concepts like freedom, identity, meaning of life, religions, universe, capitalism, modernity, roots, nature...
MT: Why is it important to be outside?
O: Because it has no filters and it is for everyone.
MT: Please tell me about your kind of art?
O: Pop ethnic surrealism with an essence from the streets and a big influence from old cultures from Africa, Mexico, Rome, Egypt or Japan.
MT: Do you work alone or with other people?
O: Only sometimes alone, but usually with one or 2 assistants. It depends on the size of the project.
MT: How do you find spaces to show off your work?
O: Galleries or event organizers contact me or my manager to do it.
MT: Do you participate in traditional art shows in addition to street art?
MT: How do you earn a living?
O: Traveling around the world doing sculptures and paintings in the streets and for galleries.
MT: Do you participate in festivals? If so, which ones?
O: Yes, for example right now you can find me at ArtRepublic in Jacksonville, Florida. And a couple of months back, in Life is Beautiful (Las Vegas).
MT: What are your goals for yourself for the future?
O: I need to create to be happy, and feel alive. Art is the meaning of my life. And for the future…Just keep the same level and energy in the next productions.
The future of street art
MT: What are your hopes for the future of street art?
O: Hopefully, change something, a little portion, in this capitalist world. Transform the streets trying to change the people.
MT: What do you want your legacy to be?
O: Leave a part of me with my artworks in as many countries as possible.
MT: What do you like to do for fun?
O: Party, go to the theater, cinema and concerts..., go to exhibitions, listen to music, riding my bike, sea swimming…
MT: What is something in life that you want to do but haven't done yet?
O: Have sons and family, jumping from a plane, a road trip all over America north to south in a van painting in all countries.
MT: What are your social media handles or websites?
O: I primarily use Instagram but I also have a Facebook and Twitter account (find me by @OKUDART). Also, I have a website.
MT: Which charities do you support?
O: My last 2 charities have been amazing. Murals for the children intensive care unit in a hospital in Madrid and working in some murals with a psychically disabled assistant in A La Par Foundation facilities.
MT: When and where can we next see your art?
O: In more than 20 countries on 4 continents: Australia next week, USA right now, Spain next month, India next February…
MT: Is there anything you wish to add?
O: Just invite to everyone to follow my news and projects in my Instagram @okudart stay tuned +++
Learn more about Okudo San Miguel here.
Images by Okuda San Miguel and El Chino-Pomares