BASELGEDDON: Diana Contreras aka Didi Q&A
What do you write? Are you in a crew?
I do not write and I am crew-less. I enjoy working with crews and painting characters with their letters. Sometimes I do "Didi" throw ups just cause I like bubble letters.
In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
My first piece was at a BBQ party in Queens, NY. But I really started painting in the streets of Miami. I hope that my work has influenced more people to pursue their dreams like I am pursuing mine. Murals or public art is for the people. I always keep in mind the surroundings of where I am painting and incorporate it's elements to my work. For example in Overtown I had people watching and walking by as I painted. I painted a Cleopatra with "OT" (Overtown) door knockers, long nails and flashy jewelry. They would say “make it look like me”!
Did you go to school or are you self taught?
I went to Miami-Dade on an art scholarship and I have a Masters in Art Education from FIU. In addition, I had a great high school art teacher.
As for spray paint, I am self taught. Since I am a classically trained painter I use aerosol as if I was painting with a brush. My spray painting style is painterly.
How did you get started in the arts and why?
I have always loved art. I did stop painting for about two years and I felt so empty. When I went to school for my Masters I began painting again. I couldn't believe how much I missed it. What really gave me a career in arts was social media. It helped my art get out to the masses. I got 24K likes on Instagram before I even had Instagram. I love when I am creating, it’s such a part of who I am so I can't stop now!
How long have you been working in the streets?
I have been painting in the streets about 4 years. I was a late bloomer. What I love about street art or public art is that anyone who walks by can enjoy it. It’s not just for galleries and studios.
Who or What inspires you the most?
What inspires me the most are my emotions. Emotions are what drive me to have to paint. When I am angry, happy or sad I create and I feel better.
What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
I think they should know that not all street artists do graffiti. The stereotype is that they are vandals. Most people are surprised when they see girly girls painting in heels.
Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
I am a full time artist and a full time teacher. Teach by day and artist by night. I don’t think that it is better or worse having a day job or just making art that depends on the individual. I like that I can buy all the supplies I want and work on projects that I really believe in whether I make money or not. Although, I admire artists that take that leap of faith and sacrifice it all for their art. I think I will be taking that leap soon!
What are you working on now?
I am planning my first solo show in Miami and my wedding to Chris Perez <3.
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
I hope that my work brings joy and inspiration to the viewers. I want to make others happy with my art!
Check out more of Diana's work... http://www.dianacontreras.com