Street Art. I don’t know much about it. Some I like (or love), some I don’t. But when I saw the ‘Pele the kisser’ series by Brazilian artist, Luis Bueno, I loved it immediately and had a thirst to see who else Pelé was kissing.
Like all other forms of art, it’s subjective, and although I know what I like, I can’t always explain why. But I knew why immediately with this series, as it has many similarities with my working world of brand strategy and design.
Successful brands – like Pelé – pivot on a big idea. It’s used as a mechanism so brands can communicate with their audience in a vivid, effective and memorable way. No matter what the medium or channel, their one constant is the big idea that they have true ownership of. Again, like Pelé, the big idea will have legs, so to speak, and can run and run and run. The best big ideas have endless possibilities and are able to move and adapt with the times on many levels.
The series is based on the moment Pelé embraced and kissed Muhammed Ali before his final professional football game for the New York Cosmos in 1977. When the artist stumbled across the image, his first thought was ‘why limit it to just the one person?’. His big idea was born.
Now, Pelé gets to kiss and cuddle the likes of Wonder Woman, John Lennon, Mona Lisa, Salvador Dali, a Geisha, Bob Dylan and even characters from Star Wars, plus a whole host of other celebrities and icons in the streets of São Paulo. Not only that, but the kit can change colour too, so it’s either the famous yellow of Brazil or the white of the artist’s favourite team, Santos.
The series reflects topical events on a global or local level. For instance, when David Bowie died, he felt compelled to create multiple Bowies – so a series within a series was created, as he is a fan of his music.
“I was on holiday in Chile when Bowie died. I woke up that morning, opened my Instagram and started to see a lot of Bowie images. A very sad feeling came to me that moment because I realised, before reading anything, what happened. Bowie was one of my favourite musicians – for me he is one of the most important artists of the last three decades of the 20th century. That day I decided that, when I got back to Brazil, I would produce different versions of Bowie to match with Pelé, because he was so plural, that one version would not be enough.”
His work is created using both digital and manual techniques, he explains, “My work usually starts at the computer, where I select images to work with that I further edit and reconstruct. Then I scale the art to the proportion I want and print it in separate parts. After that I can paint over them, with acrylic paint, which is a technique I use in most of my coloured pieces. Finally I go to the streets and paste them. Sometimes I use paint after the pasting, but it is not so common, because I prefer to paint calmly in my house, listening to music.”
There you go. Whether you’re a football fan or not, I hope you like the series too. More information on the artist and further work below.
Born in 1980, Luis Bueno is a São Paulo-based artist and teacher. He has a degree in Graphic Design, and a Master’s Degree in Visual Arts. Before his current occupation as an artist, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for books and magazine publishers. He also teaches disciplines such as colour theory, illustration and computer graphics for graduate programs.
The original, iconic image of the two greats that sparked Bueno’s big idea.