Speaking with Sonni

May 24, 2013

Argentinian artist Sonni Adrian has been delighting us New Yorkers with his bold colors and playful themes since he moved here in 2011.  We recently had the opportunity to visit his studio and speak to him.


When did you first begin creating art? 

When I was about seven years old, my parents enrolled me in an afterschool art program. I loved it, and I spent hours there every day.

What about getting your artwork up in public spaces? When did that first happen? And where?

I started getting up about eight years ago in Buenos Aires. I began first with stickers, and then I moved on to paste-ups and wheatpastes.

What was your subject matter back then – when you first began?

It was mostly back and white icons of playful inanimate characters.


What inspired you to get up on the streets?

I was bored at my day job – where I spent all my time creating artwork for commercial purposes.

Have you any preferred spots or surfaces?

As I paint with acrylic, I prefer flat surfaces, rather than walls with bricks. But I love integrating windows into my pieces and I like interesting textures.

How do your parents feel about what you are doing?

At first they didn’t understand it.  But now they appreciate it.


What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

Just about all of it!

What is the main source of your income as an artist?

I freelance as an art director for animation.

Have you a formal art education?

I studied graphic design for four years back in Argentina.


Have you any favorite artists? Influences?

I love Matisse. Among my influences are: Yoshitomo Nara, Japanese Kawaii style, and Disney’s first Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat.

What about back in Argentina? Any favorite artists who paint in public spaces?

Tec, Chu, Ever, Kid Gaucho, Jaz, Gualicho, Parbo, Defi, BsAs Stencil, Pedro Perelman & run don’t walk are among my favorites.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I love it all. All art that is on the street is “street art.”


How does the street art scene back in Buenos Aires compare to NYC’s?

There is much more freedom in Buenos Aires.  You won’t go to jail there for painting on the streets. The atmosphere, in general, is more open and relaxed.

When you paint, do you work with a sketch in hand or just let it flow?

I always work with a sketch. My sketchbooks are my reference.

Are you generally satisfied with your final piece?

Never! I always feel I can do more.


You’ve had solo shows not only in Argentina, but in Miami and in NYC, and you’ve participated in group shows across the globe.  Any thoughts about the move of street art into galleries?

It’s amazing!  And a completely different experience. It’s quite a transition for any artist who is accustomed to painting on the streets.

What’s ahead?

I try not to think too much about that. But I know that I want to continue painting. I’m happiest when I’m painting, and I have quite a few exciting projects coming up. My long-term goal is to be able to do my own thing full time. And I would love to design a playground for children.

That sounds great! We’re certainly looking forward to that!


You can check out Sonni’s artwork tomorrow evening — as reMADE presents Sonni, Aaron Stewart, and Nile the Crocodile starting at 6pm at 469 DeKalb Ave.

Photos by Lenny Collado, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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