No Curator_Laro Lagosta_AJ1 Low Cactus Jack

Editorial - April 15, 2020

No Curator | Laro Lagosta

Peter Lucido III

Peter is a content manager at StockX with a focus on electronics.

This article is part 6 of 13 in the series: No Curator

No Curator_ Laro Lagosta

“No Curator” focuses on the most important and cutting edge visual artists who create and draw inspiration from the interconnected cultures of StockX. In this installment of “No Curator,” illustrator Laro Lagosta talks about his family roots in art, starting as a freelance illustrator, and much more.

Be sure to check out Laro Lagosta’s Instagram for more!

The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Would you please introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Laro Vilas Boas, aka Laro Lagosta. I’m an illustrator and graphic designer from Ponte de Lima, Portugal, and I’m now living in Porto, Portugal, and working at Prozis in R&D product intelligence.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ponte de Lima, then spent some years in Porto during primary school. I then went back to Ponte de Lima in middle and high school and moved back again to Porto for college. I’ve been living in Porto ever since.

How did your childhood influence your art?
Comics, cartoons, and movies were a massive influence on my illustrations. My mother’s work has been, as well. Colors, landscapes, and weird stuff always stuck with me. I loved Dragon Ball Z, Ren & Stimpy, Spider-Man, Biker Mice from Mars, horror movies, action movies. They were worlds that I loved to represent. I had a love for gore that I represented for many years. The skeletons still remain, but not so much the blood and violence.

What was your most vivid memory from growing up?
I have many, but I remember spending hours drawing monster battles with colored markers. I used to fill several A4 booklets with my drawings.

Any family or friends that were interested in sneakers or art?
Not sneakers, but art definitely! My mom paints and my dad used to draw. Several uncles are also into art. I was always close to art.

What was your first encounter with art like?
I’m not sure. I have drawings from when I was two years old. My mom is a middle school art teacher and always had a lot of books and paintings at home. I have photos of me painting with her as a kid.

When did you begin to dedicate your efforts to art fulltime?
When I was 16 or 18, I started making posters and for clubs and the gigs there. That’s when I started taking the design/illustration thing more seriously and started to think about making it my job.

When did you realize sneakers were important to you?
I think it was when I bought a pair of Nike Dunk Lows in black, white and red. I was obsessed with them and wore them until they ripped on the toe. I even did an exhibition in 2018 called “First Love” about that specific pair of sneakers.

Laro Lagosta

Artwork featured in Laro Lagosta’s “First Love” exhibition // image courtesy of the artist

Describe your creative process. At what point do you choose the specific sneaker to spotlight in a piece?
I first think about what I want to say. If something specific strikes me about a particular sneaker, like some kind of feature or something funny about it, then that’s it. I go with it.

If I think about some type of joke but don’t think it directly relates to the sneakers, I sometimes choose a pair that I like, one that is hype at the moment or a classic and just create from there. When I do landscapes, it’s always a pair that is being talked about, whether it’s controversial, famous, or infamous.

What has been your favorite sneaker to incorporate into your art?
AJ1 (The Ten Chicago CW). I have a thing for that pair, the colors, materials, and the hype. I think that’s the pair that I’ve drawn the most: That and the Nike AF1.

What are some sneakers that you’d like to include in your art?
Whatever I feel at the moment. It’s easy; I only have to draw them. I’m thinking about the Nike Shox TL in white because I’m thinking about buying them.

What do sneakers mean to you?
They’re part of my life, a thing that I love that I want to know more about. They have brought me many good things.

What does art mean to you?
Art is a voice that speaks for me.

What influences you?
I cannot say anything but everything.

How are you able to get your art out to folks? Galleries? Any specific ones?
I’ve participated in many group exhibitions and had my first solo exhibition last year at the gallery Circus Network in Porto. I’m working on some new projects in this area for the future.

How about social media?
If people can relate to my art or find it funny or intriguing, they will share it. That’s what I love about social media. I feel that I’m talking to a big audience and that I’m talking with them through my work. For me, nothing beats the feeling that I’ve captured an emotion that is common to a large group of people who thought they were the only ones who felt like that.

When did you decide to become a working artist?
When I stopped college to become a full-time freelance illustrator, I then finished college and got a job at Prozis, working on an exciting project where I can put all my skills to work. It involves clothing, sneakers, accessories, and much more. Besides that, I’m always working as a freelance illustrator.

Were you nervous, excited, or scared?
A mix of those three, but it happened very naturally. I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator and designer for some years.

What did your friends and family think?
I had a lot of support, but also a lot of doubt; I understand because it’s not easy. You’ve got to believe in yourself and work a lot. Things won’t happen if you don’t make moves. Talent alone is never enough.

Laro Lagosta

God Help Me // image courtesy of the artist.

Was there a milestone moment when you realized that you were going to work as an artist?
When I started getting paid for bigger projects involving bigger brands, I began to think this freelance thing could actually go well if I just work hard enough.

Who is your audience? Are they more a part of the art world, the sneaker world, or somewhere in between?
I think the majority right now is from the sneaker world. I believe I often speak about specific things that people can’t relate to if they don’t love sneakers like we (those in the culture) do. For some of the things I do, only the community can relate, but other times I make things that anyone can relate to.

How do you view your work in comparison with other contemporary artists?
I don’t compare. I don’t know the importance of my work, internet art, meme art, or sneaker art. I try to do what I want and speak my mind. My only goal is to make people feel something about my work.

How do you authentically represent the sneaker community?
I respect everyone who’s in the game for the love of it: people who create, sell, collect, and feel deeply about it. I often think about how there are many voices with much more knowledge than me that could speak way more about this, but I’ve got to do my part and be humble about it. I try to give voice to the sneaker lover’s mind.

How would you describe the “sneaker community”?

How would you describe “contemporary art”?

How are you able to combine both communities?
I don’t know if I can.

What’s the difference between art and consumer products?
Art is not created for personal use, you may own it but it is destined for everybody.

What should people know about the cultural work you do?
I’m very happy and humbled to be part of a community that values my work and identifies with it.

Do you think your cultural production is accurately portrayed in the media?
After I finish it and put it out in the world, I can’t control it. It’s hard to ignore it when it’s portrayed as something against my beliefs, but the right thing to do is to let it live on its own.

Do you have any plans to try new art forms or mediums?
I’m happy with what I’m doing right now, but I’m sure sooner or later I will do it differently.

What does success look like for you? How will you know when you’ve made it?
I feel like I’ve already made it. I have a job doing what I love, family, friends, health, my wife. I’m ambitious, and I want more, but I’m thankful for what I already have. I will keep on working, and I’ll see what happens.

Anything else people should know about you?
Lagosta means lobster in Portuguese.

Anything I should have asked?
How do I deal with a persistent need to buy sneakers? I would’ve answered: badly!

See more from Laro Lagosta and learn about more artists within the culture in “No Curator.”