California-based artist Jeff Soto remembers...
approaching his blank Wynwood wall in 2010: "When I first saw the space my first instinct was to be offensive. I wanted to paint something crazy and aggressive that would be different from its manicured surroundings and pop off the wall." He didn't know what he was going to paint before arriving, and the mural he created developed spontaneously from that moment, like automatic painting. Free-styling on the unusually wide wall, the artist followed his instincts, and his explosive mural finally assaults passersby with toothy monsters, a spiked wolf and hairy tentacles in bursts of color.
While his roots are in graffiti, Jeff's personal and original imagery developed on paper and canvas during and after his time in art school. He cites various influences from landscape paintings to early street art, skateboard graphics, comic books and even hot rod art, among others. After a ten-year hiatus from spray paint, Jeff has found himself getting back to his roots more recently and painting big walls alongside renowned street artists. For his Wynwood Walls mural, he used a combination of spray paint and brush work, as well as absorbing some of Miami's colors: "I did get inspired by the colors of South Beach. I saw a guy walking around in these crazy hot-pink-colored sunglasses, and it was so retro, I knew I had to paint that."
From prior visits for Art Basel Miami, Jeff was familiar with the Wynwood district, which he sees a Wild West of graffiti and street art, where you can see artists working at night and meet all kinds of people during the day. "I love it. I think it's cool that Tony is supporting a neighborhood in this way. It's interesting that he's bringing art in to revitalize this neighborhood. He's definitely trying something different, and he's a creative thinker. He understands the creative mind, and he's willing to take those creative risks to make things happen."