Erni Vales began painting the sides of subway trains in the mid to late 80s. It was the peak of the graffiti years in NYC and he was able to get into the gallery scene quickly from there. He started, Lower East Side Clothing with graffiti partner Gil Aviles but after painting murals in clubs like Tunnel, Limelight and the World he changed from clothing designer to large scale mural maker. For a while he may have had murals in about 500 clubs from NYC to Miami before a Hollywood producer brought him out west to paint murals on shows sets in the early 90's.
In 97, Erni made his way back east to begin what would become a 10 year project working and consulting for the Chelsea Market. This is where he met David LaChapelle and began to collaborate with him on legendary sets for shoots with the likes of Madonna, Elton John and L’il Kim. Erni has also designed over 15 restaurants and clubs including Atlas Bar in Moscow. He is currently launching EVL World (Erni Vales Ltd.)- company based on twisted graffiti ideas and naughty, sexy images of teddy bears in bondage. He is also launching a high end line of graffiti inspired sculptural jewelry.
How does NY city inspire you as a person and as an artist? Just as I get influenced by life all around me, Life in NYC is always grander, more charged,and more diverse. People in NYC enjoy life more than anywhere else I have seen, they are challenged more and they are more creative and expressive. No matter where my travels take me I always return to NYC for that extra boost from life!
Most interesting projects you have worked on? I did a huge metal sculpture that lives in the elevator bay at the Mercury records headquarters in NYC. It was my only sculpture and was very challenging and I love that it still exists today. The general nature of graffiti is that its temporary most of the time. I also loved designing Atlas in Moscow because I had to learn the metric system and overcome the language barrier to get everyone on the same page page with me. I guess I always lean towards the new chapter, the bigger challenge!