Erni Vales may be best known for his development of the 3D graffiti style that has influenced thousands worldwide to follow his technique; however, Vales, has a portfolio reaching far beyond what might be expected from a graffiti artist.
Now a creative powerhouse, Vales has completed many successful projects ranging from large-scale murals, to art directing films and videos, fashion, photography to restaurant and nightclub interior design worldwide. His collaborations have placed him in the heart of Google’s NYC office and the surreal world of photographer David LaChapelle. He has also worked closely with video director Hype Williams, spanning his art across all mediums.
It was at the High School of Art and Design where Vales was introduced to graffiti and the emerging culture of Hip Hop. Painting at a feverish pace both on subway cars and on canvas the artist was soon to start showing at Graffiti Productions Inc., one of the first galleries to feature authentic graffiti works by the legends of the era. These shows, greatly received by press, fans and collectors became the solid foundation to a spellbinding career.
Vales would hone this talent through an array of many mediums: a foray in hand painted clothing led Vales to creating large murals in nightclubs of NYC. Having practiced large-scale pieces on the flanks of subway cars, he was well qualified to execute fantastic large-scale murals, quickly. Vales executed murals in Limelight, The Tunnel and Gil and Erni’s Rock and Roll Bar to name a short few out of more than 500 at least.
Always eager to expand his expertise Vales learned from those around him, absorbing all that he could about the processes of designing and building nightclubs and restaurants, which would later prove very valuable. But first, Vales was called to Hollywood to create the graffiti works done by the lead actor in a small pilot called “Livin Large”. The show received little fanfare but the introduction was key.
Vales found himself creating large-scale murals featured in many shows on the world famous Warner Bros. Back lot. Vales had the chance to diversify his skills, painting in a wide range of styles from Thomas Hart Benton’s WPA murals to the nightmarish dreams of Francis Bacon to the Sexy Deco style of Tamara DeLempica. His work appeared in the CBS series “The Flash”, NBC series “Viper” and movies, such as “Vampire in Brooklyn”, “Seven”, “Money Train” and “House Party 2″.
In 1995, hungry for more than the Hollywood lifestyle had to offer, Vales returned to NYC and teamed up with the then emerging photographer, David LaChapelle. Excited by the possibilities of collaborating with a versatile artist like Vales, LaChapelle worked with Vales on numerous pieces including portraits for Madonna, Elton John, Mariah Carey and L’il Kim. The portrait of L’il Kim (cover of Interview Magazine in 1998) was chosen as one of the 50 greatest portraits of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004. Many of these works can be seen in the book Hotel LaChapelle. Between gigs with LaChapelle, Vales was offered the opportunity to design his first of many restaurants, a small bistro in Connecticut, Grille 207.
Later came Velvet, the first cutting edge alternative nightclub in Connecticut, and the then 3 star restaurant; The Union followed by Bliss. But once again, NYC beckoned and in 1999 Vales designed his first restaurant/nightclub in NYC turning the fading Tattoo into the wildly successful One 51.
Vales, now an accomplished and self taught interior designer then became the creative force behind spaces like Freight in NYC, and most recently, Atlas, marking his first interior design venture in Moscow, Russia and that coming right on the heels of his appearance on the NBC show The Apprentice as the featured artist for a large scale mural for Playstation 2.
2005-2006 didn’t slow the feverish pace at all, a Latin theme one man show at the gallery space in the Time Life building in NYC brought the attention of Helix cigars who added Vales to their artist spotlight series with a painting that was part of a nationwide magazine ad campaign. May 2006 brought the launch of the first ever custom designed, hand painted mini party buses (Vales has painted 8 in all) for the 2006 Dos Equis Cinco De Mayo promotional blitz. The buses toured throughout Texas, New Mexico and Southern California and the ad campaign featured Vales as the creative talent behind the buses.
Vales ended 2006 with a live painting performance at the prestigious Chanel Soho NYC store teaming with New York Magazine and raising over $2500 for Working Playground charity which has scheduled Vales to assist in a master class for artistic teens.
So weather its painting for 3000 live at Pacha or just 15 VIP Redken honchos, Vales keeps striding strong reuniting with LaChapelle for sets for Lady Gaga, Pam Anderson, Maybach and Mariah Carey.
The new decade continues the large scale art installments with Mercadito Chicago and Midtown where the design lends itself to the artwork and the paintings take center stage, at least until the food and drink arrive. Vales will also welcome a new client to the fold, Pub Belly now joins the proud and creative tradition of letting Vales, through his art introduce the customer to a new culinary experience that incorporates visuals as prominently as all other senses.
Since 2010 opening EVLworld Studio and Store in Wynwood, Miami’s Art District, it has been nothing else but a Grand Adventure. Erni invites everyone to join him on “An Unusual Journey” of creating 13 high caliber original paintings every month for 13 months straight. No one before and we believe no one after can produce a cohesive output that he put together. That is the spirit of EVLworld.
An Unusual Journey marks only the beginning of adventures as EVLworld will continue to push the envelope of its own history to inspire, innovate and incite others to go above and beyond what is just normally accepted of a visual artist today. Nothing great happens without struggle.
EVLworld is an acronym. EVL stands for Erni Vales Limited meaning when Erni cannot create anymore, then that’s it so it’s limited. He painted so many things, so many clients but now, through EVLworld he paints for only himself. As an artist beholden to no person or company his art is about as pure as an artist can get .
Someone recently told me I was old now, for the first time in my life I found that statement to be so funny. Yes I have been here now many years but old, I don’t think so. Its true I was painting subways cars in the 80s at a feverish pace which has brought me “legitimacy” in the graffiti art and commercial world, a world that I remember being a part of hundreds of people, today I guesstimate I am now a part of close to a million, worldwide.
Graffiti, the foundation of my career (who knew?) is a worldwide phenomenon and I am proud to be a part of its history. Its true, because of graffiti I have traveled the globe, painted for celebrities, been written about and have been able to challenge the artist in me for well into 30 years now.
Its true I would have painted on anything back then and yes, its true I still will paint on anything that stands till long enough, the difference today is that If I spray paint your car I will send you an invoice afterward. What a great life!
I have learned many things on my journey and gathered many wonderful friends that without graffiti I would never have had the opportunity to meet, photographers, painters, filmmakers, builders, lawyers, skaters and well you get it.. I have learned that there isn’t a medium that I cant find a way to express, or communicate thru and that’s really the foundation of graffiti, communication and its true, I enjoy that.
I have become less “old” these days, reinvigorated by the new challenges in life and its true that I will be sharing more on this website than in my previous sites, this site I will try to share my thoughts, my ideas that drove my body to create and create I did, thousands on thousands of drawings, sketches, paintings weather with tools or lately digitally I create, I hope to color everyone’s world with at least one small splash of color, of life and share my times with anyone interested enough to take a look.
Its true I’m old, but I’m so much younger than I ever was.
Roots of EVL
EVL (Erni Vales Ltd) has little to do with evil, but much more to do with vices. Vice is often defined as an immoral habit or practice. I could not however find a clear or satisfying definition to what is immoral. Whose morality has the ability to judge another thus labeling them, “immoral?” We all live with our vices, I declare mine proudly through my art, if I didn’t have my art would I still proudly declare? Probably not as doing so is viewed on as, well, immoral! My EVL World is not founded in immorality but in creativity and my art always embraces the flaws in myself as well as the people around me, its the flaws and breaks in life that serve to color our futures, it makes us real. If I buried or re-pressed my vices I’m sure my art wouldn’t be as touching, humorous or as well received. I am a creative misfit and luckily I have found my home in the world of my paintings.