Peru143 and Waves Apparel Collaboration
Underpass Park, Toronto, Canada.
Peru 143 has been drawing and creating art ever since he can remember. Growing up in Peru, travelling around the plains following his father’s dirt bike racing career, Peru143 was exposed to the beauty of his home country. Gathering inspiration from nature, his surroundings, family and teachers, the man has honed his talents into a very unique style.
It was when a group of American graffiti writers came to paint some soccer stadiums and skateparks nearby his home that he fell in love with the art. He dove into learning as much about the culture and art as possible and led him to his own graffiti writing.
Originally writing “Dream” – unaware at the time of the legendary Mike ‘Dream’ Francisco who had passed away and already claimed the name. After being arrested a couple times as a kid for his ‘vandalism’ he started selling paintings to friends in high school. Realizing he could sell his art to his peers, Peru saw the light and potential of becoming a professional artist.
At his age of sixteen, his home country was in disarray. Economic depression, terrorism, and a skyrocketing suicide rate led his parents to sending him to live with his brother – another accomplished artist Chris Dyer – in Ottawa, Canada.
It was the move to Canada that gave him his new name. His new Canadian friends simply referred to him as “Peru.” Which he adopted and used in his graffiti writing. Still today a lot of his friends and artist peers don’t know his real name.
Graffiti has always been a constant for Peru, no matter what he has done. He has gone to school briefly for painting and graphic design before dropping out of both. He then moved to Montreal where he studied Illustration & Design which helped build a solid foundation for his future work. However, he kept returning to the spray can, he was constantly being asked to paint for different companies and communities. Which through all the different paths he had been down was definitely the one that seemed right for him:
“I was spending too much time at a computer cooped up indoors, as opposed to being out with people and getting to know the community, really interacting with those who experience the art every day. Now I get to travel the world and paint for these different brands communities and people – it’s basically my dream job”
Getting your dream job isn’t easy though and when asked if there was a single moment that has helped him get to the point in his career he is at now Peru replied:
“I think about that a lot, basically, in this industry if you can call it that, there is not one big break that you get, you get a series of breaks that lead you to the next thing. I won a pilot project with Pat Thompson in Ottawa which lead to me working with MU in Montreal, which lead to me working with a bunch of other people, eventually with Cirque de Soleil, leading to working outside of Canada working with En Masse which took me to Mexico and China, basically building a portfolio and reputation for free style, free hand with a newish geometric style. And now people are asking me to go to their cities to write the names of their cities in my style."
On being called a ‘street-artist’
“I am still a Graffiti writer first and foremost, I don’t like it when people call me a street artist because that has a connotations and it’s basically a buzzword to make it more digestible for the public or to rebrand art done on the street, to me street art is everything that is artistic in the street from architecture to public sculptures to a tag on a mail box, to so stay street art is only stencilling and wheat pasting and all these other branches of graffiti, it’s a bit complex for me to accept. But as a graffiti artist, I have to work with the times and if someone is like, ‘woah I love your street art’ I have to not complain about their wording and understand where it is they’re coming from. And understand that it is part of moving the culture forward. I just want to have more artwork out there publicly. That’s what I’m doing it for, aside from myself which is always the first for me for my own personal growth and enjoyment.”
Finding inspiration through his travels, his recent work explores the theme of home, what it means to him personally, and our grander existential need as humans to find a place to belong. Growing up travelling throughout Peru’s exotic extremes to his father’s dirt-bike races allowed him to let his imagination run wild. For Peru, imagination is not merely a place for fantasy but an expression of our inward connection to one another and to our environment. In representing the fruits of his own imagination, then, Peru’s art seeks to remind us of the instinctual and light-hearted joy we all experience when encountering the world around us.
He views his work as “cheerful graffiti” and hopes to provoke happy memories in those who see his art. He uses bold colours in aim to bring people back to when they were kids. There’s something strangely mystical and warming when you view Peru’s artwork, and we at Waves Apparel certainly felt that joy when printing his collaboration t-shirts.
Today, Peru calls Toronto “home”. Where he lives with his beautiful wife. His T-shirt is a tribute to his new home, and to the potential he sees in the city.
- April 01, 2017
- James Blackmore