Today, yellowpop launched a series of limited-edition neon artworks for pre-sale with the artist André Saraiva. Pop culture patrons recognize the work of Saraiva by his detectable tag, Mr. A. With lanky legs, a half-moon smile, and one eyeball typically marked with an “X,” the character is a staple of street art and nightlife spaces alike.
Typically spray-painted, the artist’s work is known past the world of graffiti. As much an entrepreneur as an artist, Saraiva has opened an array of lifestyle destinations around the world, such as Le Bain in New York and Hôtel Amour in Paris.
For yellowpop, the artist created five LED neon designs presented on a transparent PVC acrylic board in a limited-edition collection of 100. Amour is a take on his signature handwriting in glowing red lights, Rocket is a white spaceship that mimics an in-flight launch, Mr A is a circular white design showing the character’s face, Love is a square pink take on Mr. A’s iconic smile, and Mr Tall A is a large key-hole shape light on a black PVC acrylic board showing Mr. A in full.
Those wishing to purchase a piece are encouraged to select a choice online and enter the raffle for a chance to buy. On October 30, the pre-sale period ends, and all winners of the raffle will be notified with a chance to purchase.
Whitewall caught up with Saraiva to learn more about his new neons, how he feels street art has changed, and why he thinks a prohibition movement is on the rise in nightlife.
WHITEWALL: Tell us about your collaboration with yellowpop.
ANDRÉ SARAIVA: The neons I made in partnership with Yellowpop are a tribute to the nights I would spend painting in the streets under the glow of neon signs.
WW: How did your character Mr. A first come about?
AS: Mr. A was inspired by the spirit of the signature of a tag. I wanted to create a character who could express love and generosity, and who could play with the passerby.
WW: What does a neon piece of art say about its collector?
AS: That they like pop culture.
WW: When was your “aha” moment, when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
AS: Since I was a young boy I always drew on paper and sometimes on walls. It was later on that I learned that one can do that as a profession—an artist.
WW: Do you collect art?
AS: I wouldn’t say that I collect art, but I like to surround myself with art. Over the years I surrounded myself with artwork from Man Ray to Brassaï, and even a few by Keith Haring.
WW: We’ve stayed at your Hotel Amour in Paris. What was it like creating that space?
AS: The idea was that we wanted people to feel at home. We never really thought of it as a design project or concept. Over the years we’ve been decorating it with a lot of meaningful artwork and objects that we hope people will appreciate.
WW: You are also known in the nightlife scene, running outposts like Le Baron (Paris & NYC), Le Bain (NYC), and Castel (Paris). How did you originally get into nightlife?
AS: I’ve always loved the night and felt free at night. The night was always the time when I would go out to do graffiti, so naturally, the nightclub became my second home. Later on, I decided to open one myself—Le Baron. It was a place where I could play the music I liked (non-commercial) and where my friends, the weirdos, and the artists, would feel at home.
As time went on, we created a few other ones around the world. I still love the night and the nightclub. I hope they will allow them to reopen soon. Otherwise, I am sure that there will be some secret ones, like during the prohibition.
WW: Where do you like to spend time in Paris? New York?
AS: When I’m in Paris the good thing is that I live and stay at Hôtel Grand Amour, so I just need to go downstairs to eat my favorite food and have my glass of red Burgundy. In New York, I like to relax at my apartment or my art studio, and on the same block, I have my favorite Vietnamese restaurant—Bep Ga at 70 Forsyth Street. If I want a drink late at night, I will go to my friend Paul Sevigny’s nightclub, Paul’s Baby Grand.
WW: Does being a dad impact your creativity in any way? If so, how?
AS: I have always been inspired by love. My daughter is the one who encompasses love, she inspires me.
WW: You have a special adoration for fashion, and regularly attend many shows during fashion weeks around the globe. What is your relationship with fashion?
AS: Fashion has always been a very creative and open world to artists. For me, it’s always been a part of my world. To do a drawing or put my name on clothes, for me it’s a bit like painting on a train; it will take my art all over the city.
WW: Street culture has changed exponentially over the years, with the closing of concept stores like Colette and the rise of street art and hype culture. What’s your take on street culture today?
AS: Street culture is my culture. When I first started doing graffiti it was very underground. It was a marginal movement. Today it is part of the youth culture and everybody knows about graffiti. Colette was, for, us the epicenter of that movement—where fashion and street could meet. I am very lucky to be a part of that movement, and I got to do many art shows and collaborations with Colette.
WW: Where’s your favorite place to travel and why?
AS: I love to go to my beach house near Lisbon. I like that it’s still very preserved, rough, and very close to the ocean and the elements. It’s a nice balance with my urban life.
WW: What’s next?
AS: Right now, nobody knows what’s next! But I just finished a book with Rizzoli, so I hope it will come out soon.