“Just a lion-headed guy who makes digital art”, this is what artist Leandro Machado describes himself as. He shares everything from the best part of his job, discovering new music on the internet to launching new artists in the NFT market.
Leandro Costa Machado, also known as “Leo,” is a Brazilian digital artist. He was born on April 30, 1990, in the small town of Tombos, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2015 and began working in the music industry as a cover artist in 2019. By 2021 he became a Top Seller on Art Grab and entered the world of NFTs. With over 40 thousand Instagram followers, he now works as a full-time artist, drawing layers of art from various other artists around the world. “Big Brother,” “Monuments,” “The Trippy,” and “The Beauty of a Last King” are among his most famous works of art.
Can you tell us about your background and what lead you down the path to becoming a digital artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs?
Leandro Machado: I always wanted to be a digital artist and I felt the weight of it on my back. It was as if I was doing things because I had to rather than because I wanted to. Suddenly, I noticed that my physical art sales were declining while my digital art sales were increasing. That was a signal to go in that direction and I did. I’ve always imagined a futuristic world where everything is connected and close at hand since I was a child.
That is what digital art is. It was not an easy task. I can say that I was very brave within my artist community to make this decision. In my searches for marketplaces where I could sell digital art, I came across NFTs. I entered this market in 2021 and it is thanks to digital art that I am building my house today.
How would you describe your artwork?
Leandro Machado: My artwork is the most authentic expression of myself. Nobody has ever seen the man behind the tap artist as deeply as they can in my work. I enjoy hiding personal details about myself in the element. It is also an expression of my faith. Some artistic ideas came to me in my dreams (I have many dreams every night).
Your art style is so unique, where do you seek inspiration for your creations? How do you conceive ideas for your projects?
Leandro Machado: I’d love to understand my entire creative process, but I can’t. Music, movies, books (I recently released a collection of NFTs inspired by John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”), stories, and dreams are all sources of inspiration for me. My life changed when I realized I was an artist. I had always seen art around me but didn’t understand it. I have Pareidolia, and I let it run wild in my art. When I’m stuck for ideas for new artwork, I just open the image bank and let the photos “speak” to me.
As a digital artist, how do you perceive the machine/ artist relationship? Where does the artist end, and the machine takes over? When is it art, or curated randomness?
Leandro Machado: This is a hot topic, to say the least. I believe that artists are always looking for a way to gain market space and that this is very important. The issue arises when an artist delegates control to someone else. That is my viewpoint! I disagree with artists allowing AI to handle the entire process. Artists who use AI today will be the same artists who complain tomorrow that AI has left them unemployed. “But I’m the one who comes up with the sentences”.
However, you do not have control over the outcome. In this modality, the artist becomes a supporting player by working on variations and repairs. There needs to be balance and honesty.
Do you make other forms of art?
Leandro Machado: I’ve recently discovered that I like shooting action figures and have always enjoyed writing. I think I must have nearly ten books in storage that I wrote myself since 2016. Before working with art, I enjoyed photographing nature, and I would like to work with fashion. I almost forgot to mention “Behind the Art,” my podcast in which I interview emerging artists and interesting people.
How has your style evolved over the years?
Leandro Machado: I’ve always made 2D digital collages. It was exactly that. Layers on top of layers. Nowadays, I make what I refer to as “fake 3D.” In my art, I collect elements that simulate depth. Some people look at it and say “how did you manage to create this using your cell phone?”. My color scheme has also evolved. I finally feel like I can work with the colors I adore. I haven’t stopped thinking about what will happen next, but I’m eager to find out.
Who is your favorite artist(s)? What about their style resonates with you?
Leandro: I don’t have any favorite artists because I no longer believe in them. I had artistic references when I first started creating, but I no longer adhere to them. My life has always been challenging. I was always forced to fight for what I desired. Nobody ever assisted me. That, I believe, has influenced how I perceive other artists. I admire the artist wholeheartedly. I’ll paraphrase one of my best friends:
Emanuel Art is ten years my junior, but he is one of my role models. He is a fighter who fights from a young age and never gives up. I wish I had half his courage. Bruna Perin, his girlfriend, is an emerging artist with few followers but a lot of engagement. I believe she is a natural entrepreneur. In fact, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met this artist couple.
Can you give a behind-the-scenes look into your creative process?
Leandro: Ironically I was thinking about recording a BTS series but I still don’t feel completely comfortable with it. All I can say is just wait and watch.
What is your favorite artwork of yours that you are most proud of?
Leandro Machado: I am proud of everything I do because each piece of art contains a piece of me, but if I had to pick one, it would be my collection “7 PAINTINGS OF HEAVEN.” It’s two-dimensional digital collage with faux three-dimensional detail that I worked on for three months. How did I come up with the idea for “The Return of the Last King”? I’m not sure.
The digital art industry is constantly evolving, what do you think is going to be the next big thing in the industry?
Leandro Machado: Recently Meta announced the integration of NFTs to Instagram and WOW how amazing it is! I was also invited by André Valadão, pastor of Lagoinha Church in Orlando, to participate in a digital art exhibition. He literally had a 75″ TV framed and displayed digital art. I think they were the first to do this on the Christian scene. I hope the next step is for digital art to be taught in schools and universities as well as digital art history.