Romero Britto Shares 5 Things That Inspire His Happy Art While Unveiling New Work In San Diego

Romeo BrittoPhoto Credit:  San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

In these dark times (which are currently starting to get a little lighter) the art that Romero Britto creates is essential. As the founder of the Happy Art Movement, the Brazilian-born and Miami-made artist has created a visual language of love, hope and happiness all its own that inspires millions worldwide, using vibrant, iconic imagery and fun patterns to reflect his optimistic view of the world around him.

His work was a natural fit for San Diego, a SoCal city known for its vibrant, sunshine-soaked beach culture, which is why he decided to partner with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance for a one-of-a-kind mural, which was unveiled on March 3, World Wildlife Day. Now, Britto, whose work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in over 100 countries, including the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre, 02 Dome in Berlin, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, Cirque Du Soleil at Super Bowl XLI and has been credited with the largest monumental sculpture in London’s Hyde Park history — in addition to serving as an official artist for the 2010 World Cup, Ambassador to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and honorary torch bearer for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games — his happy art can now be found in San Diego.

Here, we spoke with Britto about the ethos of his piece, why he decided to partner with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, why happy art is especially essential now and what inspires his art.

Romeo BrittoPhoto Credit:San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Can you tell us more about this collaboration with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and why this partnership is so meaningful/personally important to you?

I love nature and grew up in Brazil – we always had a dog and chickens and my brother had a horse, so partnering with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance for me is a wonder. I love seeing animals and how they move and behave. Visiting the San Diego Zoo is very special because you can have an idea of how these animals live in their habitats – the polar bear, koalas, gorillas and so many more. If you close your eyes you’d think you’re not in California. Each animal is truly so unique and special. That’s what’s so beautiful about nature, you simply cannot compare one to the other. My hope is that people become more aware, because sometimes we get so caught up with so many things that the world is now given to us. I hope people realize that there are beautiful creatures living in this world and that they’re little by little losing space and they don’t have the voice to advocate for themselves. I’m proud to partner with organizations like the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance that care about conservation and the preservation of future generations.

Tell us about your experience visiting the grounds and the impact of the Alliance.

My first visit to the San Diego Zoo was really special because I love nature. I heard it was always very beautiful. I love seeing the animals and it reminds me a lot about the time when I was on the board of the Miami Metro Zoo. I loved seeing the animals and walking around with my son. My visit made me think about the world as a whole and how important it is for us to preserve it. The setting is very beautiful and you really get a glimpse of these habitats even if you’re not able to go on a safari or travel across the world to see these wonderful animals in their beautiful habitats. I was inspirited by how tall and beautiful the giraffes are. So elegant, she sees the world in such a high level and can get as close to a bird but still cannot fly. I thought about putting her with her neck coming out of the bushes to represent that. That’s just one example. Seeing all of these individual creatures up close helped me create a space in the world where they all live together and safe and bright and hopeful.”

Can you speak to the “Happy Art Movement” and how this relates to your partnership with SDZWA. Is making others happy an important part of your life?

Sometimes things just happen and you don’t even know what you’re doing. Throughout the years people came to me, collectors and fans and told me, ‘Romero your art makes me feel happy. I want to have your art all over my house because it makes me feel so good.’ A friend of mine finally said that I had created a movement, so I had to embrace the fact that I created this thing that’s going on out there and which is very beautiful and I’m very honored. This collaboration means a lot because I grew up loving nature and animals. I always thought about having a Zoo but I could never have one myself! At least I have this collaboration and it is a dream come true. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the most beautiful zoo in the world, to invite me to collaborate with them and embark on this journey to give awareness to people and then bring them to understand how important it is to preserve and conserve animals around the world. I’m so grateful to bring that same hope to people around the world.

Romero BrittoPhoto Credit: Romero Britto

What does your masterwork signify to you? How do you feel about the future of conversation?

I think one of the things that we all want is inspiration. People see images that can inspire us to do better, not to do worse. I hope my art might. I’m sure that everyone here at the at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance hopes that when someone comes with their family members or their loved ones they’re going to think about where these animals come from, are they going to be around for another 500 years or 1,000 years? The hope is…yes! So let’s do something about it. Each person can go back to their homes and their communities and help. Let’s say if you’re going to buy a product, but you learn that product is hurting creatures somewhere across the world, you can change that. I hope this work can inspire people to do better, not worse.

Do you find more or less beauty in what would be considered ordinary?

What can be ordinary for one can be extraordinary for another. Some people may see beauty in something man made then something that is nature made. I see beauty in nature – from animals to flowers to water. If you look at simply just water, you can see how beautiful it can be. It all depends on how people value things. I definitely love nature and I think there’s so many beautiful things that we can you know get inspired by.”

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Wow – the greatest luxury in life is just to wake up in the morning and have your own space. I think space is very special. Nature is very beautiful, so I think you wake up in the morning see nature and open space with no destruction, no broken pieces. That’s luxury. We just moved to a new beautiful facility where I create my pieces. We worked several months, I mean almost a year to be able to move to the building and now it looks like a studio in a Palace. I wish I could accommodate everybody there. A space with so many colors and textures and details. My dream is to make it as big as possible and make it as accessible as possible for people come and have a glimpse of what it is to live in a very creative space. It’s beautiful. I’m very excited to go back and create images of hope and happiness.