It may have a negative connotation usually associated to vandalism but, wall by wall, Lagoa resident Stephen Jones is slowly changing people’s perception of graffiti. “Graffiti isn’t just tags and scribbles,” says the 22-year-old artist, “and the only way for people to understand that is to make beautiful, appealing graffiti that they enjoy looking at, and gradually they will start having a different perception of it.” One work that is certainly going some way to achieve that is the mural of Carvoeiro beach, created from a photograph taken by local photographer Jorge Fonseca on the side of a house, which welcomes visitors driving in through Rua dos Pescadores. This is the first of many projects that Stephen has done in collaboration with the União das Freguesias de Lagoa e Carvoeiro, a clear sign that the latest local council is certainly keeping up with the times.

But how did this once sleepy fishing village become a canvas for colourful spray paints? Much of it, says Stephen, is down to word of mouth. Having collaborated on some graffiti commissions ­ his work can be seen at J BarBara bar and the Carvoeiro scouts’ headquarters, with a Jungle Book theme ­, he was later approached to do other projects individually, such as the tropical theme at Charly’s Bar. And whilst much of his work can be seen elsewhere, from a BMX track in Quarteira to a portrait of Salvador Dali at the Satori art association in Salir, it is Lagoa council itself that is helping to place its home-grown artist in the spotlight. “It was one Carnival when I helped paint some of the floats for the Carvoeiro parade. People spoke about it, word got out of the work I had been doing and when the local authorities changed, they wanted to do something new.”

Following the Carvoeiro mural, other substantial municipal projects are already underway. In the south entrance of Lagoa, by the EN125 roundabout towards Estombar and Portimão, a wall has been earmarked for Stephen to paint some of the city’s most important landmarks, such as the convent, the market and the church, whilst on the opposite side of Lagoa, towards Silves, the graffiti artist is portraying the late Fernando Rodrigues, Lagoa’s most important potter, as part of a theme dedicated to pottery. But whilst nowadays, Stephen, whose father is English and mother is Portuguese, works alongside the council, in his youth, his artistic work wasn’t quite so legal. Experimenting with graffiti from the age of nine or ten, during his teens he set aside the spray cans and dedicated more time to skateboarding. In need of money to buy new boards, he turned to tennis coaching, a sport in which he had excelled for many years, before finding his vocation as a street artist. With no formal artistic training, besides drawing a lot in his childhood, most of his commissioned work follows a specific brief, but, left to his own devices, Stephen says he enjoys doing faces and landscapes. “I get a certain feeling when I first look at a face, and if I pay attention to that feeling, I keep painting until I can achieve that same feeling.” It’s frustrating work, even for this laid-back artist who admits that, when he starts a new project, he never knows how it will come out. Aside from graffiti, he also spends much of his time sketching, and he does many portraits with pen and paper.

Finding inspiration “in life, in everything” and working better during introspective moments, Stephen notes that the advantage of graffiti is that it can be done anywhere, but he wants to showcase more of his work in public spaces to reach a wider audience. In fact, his goal is to make people who are walking by stop dead in their tracks. “In the faces, I try to create an expression, an intense, profound look, that’s something of a shock, one that’s able to create a moment of silence and make people think.” His dream, however, goes further than that: “I would love to do buildings; the whole side for everyone to see,” he smiles. But is Lagoa council ready for that? “Not all of a sudden. It’s a big shock, but bit by bit, people are seeing this type of work and they’re starting to accept it.”
To see more of Stephen Jones’s work, check out his Facebook page.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

Share This Post On