Flávio Mendes, started graffiti in 2002 and tattooing in 2007. Known on the streets as the graffiti artist Soneka, he has drawn since he was a child and in adolescence he met the art of graffiti. His career of about 15 years is one of the most recognized in the Federal District (Brasil) of graffiti scenes.
Today he also works as an illustrator and tattoo artist. His style is easily recognized by people admiring his works. His art is inspired by his daily life, and from his reality of 9 that was part of his childhood and adolescence.He likes to create surreal stories and mystical beings, mixed with real characters and animals.
He is very influenced by Hip-hop, skateboarding, an underground culture and the young people found on the outskirts of Brasilia have also a captive seat on his graffiti. Soneka does work for big brands like Eskis and Cool Cat for their t-shirts, shorts, caps and backpacks.
He was present in the main events on the national and international scene. He does a statue of voluntary form of graffiti and drawing workshops, has already held workshops in various intuitions and places of interest like: CAJE; in the semi-free homes of Recanto das Emas Inpatient Unit; Santa Luzia Slum; Structural City; Federal District (DF); – Favela Rua do Sossego; Candangolândia (Brasil).
I didn’t have a lot of expectations in my future as I had already surrendered to the difficulties the young people of my age had, in the context we lived. It came to a point I had to avoid certain places due to problems I had with the police and at the same time walking by a magazine shop I bought my first Graffiti magazine and then everything changed.
This universe consumed me. I didn’t ask to enter it. It chose me. I’ve never understood why I do what I do , I just do it. It’s instinctive like an urge to paint and draw!
The dialogue from the art with the community is where I fit. I did drawing and educational workshops socially both in favelas and in jail, where my drawings had a bigger acceptance to be able to communicate with the people that come from the same place as I belong.
I believe that each part will find its own place , we need to vandalize where it needs, destroy and bring art to where construction is needed, the poorer places, where I see that art performs its role perfectly...
Grafiti opened doors in many places but it didn’t give me a job, I’ve thought many times about giving up on one and sticking to the other, but I couldn’t. I get sick if I don’t paint.
I was a gang member of a pixação crew, I saw many of my friends die murdered, graffiti took me out of it. I live and breathe that, graffiti gave me that as a gift, it gave me a name and everyone saw the power of graffiti in people's lives. I know people that were born in the most violent places and graffiti made them the most talented people. I’m a witness of that!
Honestly my biggest dream is to have a book with my sketches, I have so many drawings stored! I’ve talked to a few book editors but nothing went through yet, I believe everything has its moment in life, and when will be the moment it may happen eventually…
Since I was a child I’ve been looking at tattoos and the skateboard culture is very close to tattoo’s and graffiti’s universe. I got my first tattoo when I was 18 and tattooed my friend at 22.
To be honest I still try to separate graffiti from tattoos because the way I see is that they have different applications. I got lost trying to make the skin a wall , tattooing is long lasting and must be solid. It’s a beautiful art but it has limitations in order to last many years, and that took me a long time to understand.