Monday, October 26, 2009


Andrew Leonardo is one of the best young artists I have ever met. I was lucky to see his work and talk to this smart talented young man during my stay in Chicago this summer. I saw him at several house parties and in passing where we exchanged a salute. It wasn’t until one night that my roommate and I began running around my building that I truly understood his talent - when I went through an open door to this amazing place full of colorful paintings.

Anyone would think Andrew is majoring in art, but the truth is he’s studying psychology with a focus in Health Management. It is hard to relate these two areas and to think his career has nothing to do with his paintings but the truth is that studying the human behavior allows us to see the small details that take us beyond the usual, inspiring an artist like Andrew.

He, however, is strongly influenced by different artistic mediums like graffiti art, using principally throwups and tags. (A throwup refers to written words with a layer of spray-paint often drawn as bubble letters filled, or just outlined. They are generally one or two colors. A tag, refers to an artist's signature written by a marker or spray-paint.) Andrew is also influenced by flash art, skateboarding graphics, Japanese prints and tattoos.

It's important to mention that Andrew's deep interest in Japanese tattoos has brought him to research back to the early 1600’s, during the Edo period at the beginning of the early modern period in Japan. At this time, tattoos where used to identify criminals who marked themselves as a symbol of strength and power. These drawings were usually of dragons and demons, which not only reflected evil but also were symbols of luck and protection, just as Andrew’s paintings intend to project.

As we can see on the right hand side, some of his paintings reflect these styles fused together, while others are inclined to one style in specific, making his pieces diverse, rich in color, and kinetic. As a result, they leave a very original and unique work of art.

Andrew is currently living in Chicago, where he is working on murals for clubs (like the Funky Buddha, Butterfly Lounge and Orange; all social clubs in downtown Chicago where they display his work) house parties and private apartments.

Andrew's beautiful art, caused by a brilliant mind and an outstanding talent, is continuously spreading throughout Chicago, and I have no doubt it will soon reach other cities around the world.

What inspires you?

What motivates and inspires me the most is watching other people mastering their craft. For example, I love watching Paul Rodriquez shred at the Dew Tour and watching him kill the competition. When I see him push himself to skate better I push myself to paint better. I love watching bboy battles, skate videos, basketball, fixed gear videos, and watching other people paint. I spend a lot of time on the internet watching videos on youtube, vimby, and vimeo.

When did you first started painting?

I started painting on skateboards with spray paint my freshman year in College. I painted peoples names on skateboards for about a year and I realized that the process took way too long. The skateboards looked like a machine painted it since it was super clean with out any over spray or drips but it was way too tedious. I started [really] painting my Sophomore Summer which was about a year and a half ago. I didn't know exactly how to paint with acrylics but I just experimented, read articles, and watched other artists paint.

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written and some kick ass artwork! keep up the great work