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, Sushi Maki 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 opening EVL World 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. This unprecedented artistic challenge will end with the big showing of all pieces during Art Basel Miami days in early December 2012 and the final show on January 14, 2012.