As a native Atlantan, I’ve always had a fondness for my hometown’s artwork. Everytime I travel downtown, I enjoy the grandeur of murals at the Decatur MARTA station or on local buildings . Even street art and graffiti have a raw, aesthetic charm. However, if you’ve become accustomed to these artistic displays, you might take them for granted. That’s why it’s interesting to get an outsider’s perspective from time to time. Take artist Yoyo Ferro for instance. He hails from São Paulo, Brazil, but judging from his artwork, you’d swear he was born and raised in the A-Town. The city is like a second home to him and many of his illustrations revolve around the local community. Growing up in the city of Limeira, Ferro didn’t follow many of the typical São Paulo trends. While most people listened to country and Carnival-style music, Ferro gravitated to the countercultural punk rock scene and even played bass in a band called Razura. Eventually he relocated to the United States in pursuit of the “American Dream” and a chance to branch out artistically.
Since arriving in Atlanta, the Brazilian artist has embraced the city. Even though it’s a metropolis, Ferro appreciates its welcoming and intimate atmosphere. In an interview with Atlanta pop-up market, Root City Market, he explained, “I like the fact that the city is big enough to find everything you want here – great music, food, art, people – but also that it feels small in the way you keep bumping into people you know everywhere and are always able to find friends in common. It’s that whole big city/small world feeling.” That dichotomy is part of the reason Ferro feels entrenched in the community. For him, it’s really the best of both worlds.
From an artistic standpoint, Ferro draws inspiration from Atlanta’s scenery. “The Atlanta culture influences my art because I love street art,” he told Sprite P.O.U.R. (Purveyors of Urban Reality). “And everywhere you go in Atlanta you just see an awesome mural right there. Like colorful wall graffiti and for some reason I love the beauties of Atlanta, so I just love to draw the beauties.”
His artistic process is very intuitive. Primarily, he illustrates via blind contour, a technique that requires an artist to draw an image without looking directly at the paper or lifting their pencil. This method allows him to feel the motions of tracing. Since he can’t lift his utensil while he’s drawing, any imperfections become a part of the artwork. Also, it improves his eye-hand coordination and challenges him to draw continuously when focusing on a subject.
Many of Ferro’s works feature multi-colors and have a cartoon like quality. His Instagram profile is full of vibrant and fanciful illustrations. Earlier this year he was asked by Creative Loafing, an weekly Atlanta news publication, to create an illustrated guide of the city. The guide highlights notable attractions and looks as if it came straight from a comic strip. Landmarks such as Centennial Olympic Park, The Fox Theatre, The Georgia Aquarium, and Oakland Cemetery, are on display in 2D form. What’s really impressive about this piece is that Ferro managed to fit in numerous representations of landmarks on a single sheet of paper.
His piece titled “ATLANTLER” is unique. This drawing depicts the city of Atlanta resting atop a moose’s antlers. In contrast to the majority of Ferro’s drawings, this one is in black and white. The art is very well detailed and portrays realistic sketches of buildings in downtown Atlanta. The concept is so random, but amusing at the same time. Not every piece of art has to have a “deep” meaning, and I actually chuckled while looking at it.
Another great piece is a multi-colored sketch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ferro worked on this piece while he was writing the “I Have A Dream Speech” verbatim by hand. On his Instagram profile, Ferro described the inspiration behind this piece. “While I was going line by line of the speech it gave me a very small sample of what all those people in Washington heard and felt in 1963. It made me think of how much was accomplished since then and how much we still need to conquer to be able to fully live his dream.”
In addition to illustrating, Ferro is passionate about origami. On every piece of art he creates, Ferro places an origami crane. Some of his pieces include a figure of Jedi master Yoda based on an original design by artist Fumiaki Kawahata and a collection of spray-painted paper dinosaurs. With his skillful drawing and origami, Ferro is rapidly growing in popularity.
During the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, he was a guest instagrammer for the Atlanta Hawks when they played against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He “took over” the Hawks’ Instagram profile for one game on behalf of #weloveatl, a local movement that “inspires and empowers people in the Atlanta area to come together and share their love of the city through photography and other visual art.”
Yoyo Ferro is a talented artist with zeal for creativity. If you’re interested in his artwork, check out his Instagram profile at https://instagram.com/yoyoferro/. His creations are great additions to the Atlanta art scene and community.