Interviewed by Lucy A.Edwards on behalf of The Moniker Foundation
Diogo, welcome! Let's get straight into it! We thought we'd start at the beginning and ask about the start of your career - you hold a degree in Graphic Design, can you talk about what you did for work after graduating and the steps you took in order to become a "full-time artist?"
Hi, thank you for having me here - let's do this! Yes, I do have a Graphic Design degree, from IADE – Institute of Visual Arts, a creative University in Lisbon, I graduated back in 2004, and then I worked as a Graphic Designer in Portugal and Germany for a few years. On the subject of becoming a full-time artist - I've always been drawing, since as long as I can remember. I think that when you make the decision of what you are going to do as your degree (and what you want to do as a person) is where that journey begins - I'm not entirely sure if you're fit to make that decision when you are so young (laughs) but I chose Graphic Design and I don't regret it at all, although I'm still not sure if it was the "right" decision! I kept drawing as a passion and a side hobby, and when 2007 came around (I was moving back to Portugal from Germany) I felt it was a good turning point to invest in my artistic work, exploring as an artist and as an illustrator.
You started out under the longer MONIKER (see what we did there?!) of Add Fuel to the Fire - what's the story behind your name and was there any particular reason it got shortened to Add Fuel, as you are known today?
Ahhhh, yes I see what you did there! (laughs) Add Fuel to the Fire was indeed the longer, original Moniker. When I began working more and more as a freelance illustrator and full time artist, I started to work with more of an international market and sometimes my real name, Diogo Machado, was not easy to pronounce so I thought it would be interesting to start using a moniker for myself. The original concept behind Add Fuel to the Fire was that, even though its an expression that's usually affiliated with bad connotations, I wanted to subvert that and find new meanings personable to me - so Add Fuel to the Fire represented that I could add something to the art world, add something with my work and make it brighter, ignite it somehow. The reason it got shortened was simply for easiness and to avoid potential mistakes - yes, it did loose some of the initial meaning but in the end it gave it another, broader one - now it can be just Add Fuel to ANYTHING - not the most interesting story, but a story all the same!
Your style is instantly re-cognisable and known for being patterned and symmetrical - can you speak a bit about your artistic process and your influences?
Being Portuguese, its very natural for me to see all the tile facades and panels everywhere. At one point, I received a request to be part of a project in my hometown - I wanted to really promote myself as an individual but to also identify myself as Portuguese and it grew from there. I had already created my own style of drawing, which you can now see inside the patterns, so I combined this with the tiles aesthetic - making it symmetrical, creating repetition. I'm not going to deny it, this also comes from my training as Graphic Designer - it allowed me to be aware of the elements such as composition, style, balance, placement, rhythm - this is my background coming into the light!
What was the last gift you gave to someone?
My last gift to someone, well... it was a tile! (laughs) - that was an easy answer!
You have a broad portfolio of canvas, ceramic, print, mural and even cross-stitch - do you have a favourite medium to work with/on?
I very much enjoy exploring different techniques, but the tile is for sure my favourite medium - its the one thats faithful and true to the graphic representation - it fits better with the visuals. But, yes, I do like to explore different materials and mediums - for example, the past 2 years I've actually been slowly experimenting with metal and metal sculptures, which has been really interesting but its the tile that allows me to create the bridge between old and traditional to modern and contemporary - the material itself is so noble and connects best with the Portuguese tradition.
NFT's - whats your opinion on them? Yay or Nay?
I have done a couple of NFTs of my own recently, its a complicated question - it isn't as easy as Yay or Nay, right? It's a nay for the environmental impact it may have, it's a yay for the great possibilities of creating digital, certified art. I don't think I can say either, what I will say is just wait and see what can be done after all the hype passes. There's a lot of potential, but there's also a lot of contradictions regarding the value and the amount people are paying, also it being associated with Crypto - so, let's wait and see!
Tell us about the recent collaboration you did with jeweller Suarez?
Its a super interesting project called "Silver Prints". Suarez invited a selection of artists to create one artwork each that would be modelled and created into a silver jewellery piece. Suarez are a massively successful jeweller and I am super happy with how the piece turned out. Basically, I enjoy collaborating with different brands - especially if it's something that allows me to think in a different ways, to create something a little out of my comfort zone but still brings me so much pleasure to create - but I find it important that I identify with the brand, their product and/or with their philosophy.
Speaking of collaboration, we are super excited to have you involved with our Moniker Editions this month - tell us a bit more about the work you've selected to transform into a print for our collectors?
Yes! The print with Moniker Editions is very exciting, I've been following Moniker's work for a very long time and we had the opportunity to collaborate in the past but unfortunately we had a schedule conflict so it was unable to go ahead but now its finally happening!
"Home Street Home" is a redux version of a print I did back in 2015, at the time it had a lot of good feedback, but with whats going on in the world now it also made the most sense to use for this project. All of my print runs are limited and unique but in this case I am making an exception, with a twist, as its a redux version, not a re-print of the original - the idea is pretty much the same, but the visual is different. We have been living in a society where coming in and out of lockdowns is the norm, we have had to stay at home and things we were used to we realised we had been taking for granted. The title is a contradiction on the expression "Home Sweet Home" - people are slowly coming back to the streets, to the outside and leaving their homes but there is a very important issue and message here - some people never left the streets, never got to "stay at home" as most as us were, as the street is their home. Aesthetically, the print has many layers but it also has layers of meaning too.
15% of the print sales will be donated to the charity CASA - tell us a little more about them and why you selected them as your charity of choice for this project
CASA are a very noble institution - they support people in need, they support the homeless, the people with financial troubles and they rely on donations and volunteers. I personally feel we all should feel blessed that we have a place to go home to at the end of the day, some people don't have this option and I think we should do all we can to help the ones who are in need. It has a personal meaning to me - fortunately I have never been homeless myself - when I was younger I moved to different places and lived with a number of different family members, yet I have never felt homeless - there was always a warm welcome for me and I always felt at home - so the concept of "home" for me is completely different to many homeless people, so I wanted to make it clear that it should be something that we treasure and value.
Here in the UK, we have had three national lockdowns and are now in a tier system specifying the number of people/households we are allowed to mix with. Have you spent the entire pandemic in Portugal? How has it been for you creatively?
It's been a weird and crazy time for all of us, right? In Portugal we are slowly moving out of the 2nd lockdown, and we are in a good position, but personally it was quite a change. For the past 3-4 years I was pretty much constantly travelling, I wasn't really at home, then last year changed all of that. I spent all of 2020 and most of 2021 at home and haven't travelled anywhere apart from a little bit within Portugal for work projects. Speaking strictly from a creative point of view, it wasn't a bad thing to happen. I spent a lot of time developing new ideas, working on new projects and in the studio, which I haven't been able to do in the last few years - I just tried to take the positives from it and enjoy it where I could.
Finally, let's end on an unorthodox one because, why not?! - if you had to compare yourself to an animal, which would it be and why?
I would have to say that I have never really thought about that before (laughs)! For 11 years my best buddy was a dog called Sebastião - a Basset Hound. At some point, I think I became a little like him, or maybe he became a little bit like me - who knows! Whenever he was outside he was super excited and happy and wanting to play and having fun - thats kind of what I do. Whilst he was at home, he just wanted to chill and be super relaxed - which is... sort of what I do! (laughs). He was the life of the party and he had a very stubborn streak, he had a mind of his own and only did what he wanted to do... which again, is so like me!
Artist Instagram: @addfuel
Artist Website: https://www.addfuel.com/
"Home Street Home" Print Release Link: CLICK ME!