I’ve looked forward for some time to having a opportunity to interview and meet famed fashion illustrator and painter Alvaro. When speaking with the legendary artist Alvaro I noticed a few things immediately.
First, without question, he is one of the most warm, and gracious people I have ever spoken to especially on a professional level.
He is passionate about spreading positive energy and helping others, in particular women, children and animals.
Alvaro is also a private person, who does not seem to seek fame or special attention and is madly in love with his craft.
You don’t have to be a fashion lover to appreciate his illustrations and paintings.
We all know and recognize what beauty looks like, no matter what form it is presented in.
(bio, photos, and interview below)
Who Is Alvaro?
Alvaro is a renowned painter/illustrator who has become popular in the fashion and entertainment industries. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963, and raised in the Bronx. Alvaro’s father worked as a film cutter and often brought home old films that he showed on a rickety film projector.
As a youngster, Alvaro was inspired by the images of iconic actresses such as Greta Garbo, Harlow, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Imbued with admiration for the beauty and the strength of women, so began Alvaro’s long obsession with fashion culture, pop and surreal art, and drawing the female figure.
While studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1983, Alvaro met and became the protege of the legendary fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. Alvaro’s works can be found in the personal art collections of many celebrities and socially prominent individuals such as Mariah Carey, Oribe, Jay Manuel, Denise Rich, Judith Regan, Naomi Campbell, Iman, to name a few.
Alvaro and his work has been featured numerous times in publications such as , the American and Greek editions of Vogue and Bazaar, as well as New York Magazine, Esquire, Essence, Billboard and the New York Times. In the early 1990’s, the popularity of Alvaro’s ad campaign for the Japanese department store, “La Foret” created such a following that he was featured in the cover if Japanese Esquire. The August 2001 issue of Vibe magazine featured their
first painted cover of R&B singer Aaliyah by Alvaro.
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When did you know that you could make a career from your illustrations and paintings?
I knew before the age of six growing up in the south Bronx that i was going to be an artist drawing women. My father William was a film cutter and would bring home films and my big brother Gilberto would keep me up all night watching the late late show. I was very inspired by Hollywood women.
You have created fashion illustrations and paintings of some of the most beautiful women in the world, like Naomi Campbell, Paulina Porizkova, and the late Farrah Fawcett, who are women you have worked with and met personally. Not many who paint or draw could say the same about their muses. Is it easier or more complex to create your illustrations once you have meet the inspiration of your drawings?
I have met many including Iman, Mariah Carey etc… meeting and knowing many of these wonderful women has added an extra plus as I am able to capture their personalities better.
What are the tools of your trade?
I usually start with a number 2 pencil and use anything that i have available. I like to work in many mediums. I have been asked asked many times what my favorite color is and i always say “all of them”.
What is one word or phrase you could use to describe your work?
When you create your art, how long in general does it take from start to finish to have a completed piece, such as a painting?
It all depends on the subject and deadline. One time I had to create an 8 foot portrait of a pregnant Ricki Lake for her birthday to be televised on her show and I had to to rush and create it in 7 hours over night. Other times I can create portraits in 15 minutes, a few hours to weeks or even months. I draw very fast like wind blowing and I guess it is probably because I drink Hispanic coffee… (smiling)…I am so Puerto Rican.. ha!
In regards to your illustrations, Is there a reason to why many of your creations where predominately feminine? Are women just easier to grab inspiration from?
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I actually like to draw anything from animals to humans etc.. I trained myself early on to draw in many styles in order to secure a wider range of clients as I am not just a fashion illustrator. I draw men but in the long run my passion is immortalizing women. I love all types of women and not just model types. I have so much respect for all women and I am known to be very obsessed with chivalry. All women should be treated like a princess or a queen and like a sister and a mother.
I have noticed that some of your work is very socially conscious even political at times, how important are those beliefs to you?
Very important! I like to share and express my political views but i try to keep it light and comedic. I do my best to be respectful to others sensitivities. I rather draw it than say it as I do not like offending people. I’d rather make everyone smile.
If you were not a iconic fashion illustrator and painter, what would you be? Could you see yourself doing anything else with as much passion other than this?
YES! A tennis playing champion. It’s too late for that because as I am getting older my bones are crackling making all kinds of noise. Sometimes when I get up my body sounds like a symphony at Avery Fisher Hall.
There are so many young artists aspiring to be the next Alvaro, what advice can you realistically give someone who wants to commit their life to painting and illustrations?
Well, the first cliche thing to say is to work work hard and never give up fighting for your dream. I always tell anyone that approaches me that they have to believe in themselves before anyone else does. I also tell them that they should never look over their shoulders wondering what someone else is doing doing. NEVER COMPETE WITH ANYONE BUT YOURSELF! Be better today than what you did yesterday. Always be kind to people and spread positive energy.
Please let us know what’s next for Alvaro?
I am working on some deadline projects but i never say what they are to respect my clients privacy and wait until they release the works. I am very excited about my new personal canvas paintings of famous painters that have inspired me. I would like to end this with a huge thank you to you Isabella Gucci and for all of you that have read this interview I want to send you all and your loved ones so many hugs with smiles from my soul. Please try and do or say something good to someone every day if you can. Give a piece of love and kindness to a person that may need it, care.
Please visit Alvaro’s web site for more insights on the artist and photos of his work: www.alvaroartz.com
all photos courtesy of Alvaro