A former tattoo artist swapped his trade to become an illustrator brightening up the grey urban feel of Swindon.

Dário Santos, originally from Portugal, has brought vibrant street art to brighten up Swindon, since moving to the town over four years ago.

“Murals bring colour and art into public spaces, which otherwise can be quite monotoned and unloved,” he said.

“It helps creating a new experience for the Swindon community, and positively transform areas that we all benefit from, interact with and live in.

“It turns something otherwise unimpressive into something that brings joy and pride, so street art is uplifting as it brings us all together and engages people of all ages and backgrounds without limitations.”

Swindon Advertiser: Dário also paints his vivid creations on skateboards.Dário also paints his vivid creations on skateboards. (Image: Dário Santos)

The 32-year-old then undertook a degree in Illustration at Southampton Solent University in 2018 but had done other art prior to working full time in as an artist from 2021 onwards.

“The journey to become a full-time independent artist has not always been smooth and straightforward,” he said.

“For me, it involved entering other artistic fields such as tattooing, which I did for four years, as well as animation and concept art.”

The artist explores different styles in his art but admits that the skill never ceases to be a process of learning.

Swindon Advertiser: Dário also works with paper such as his colourful version of Greek philosopher Plato.Dário also works with paper such as his colourful version of Greek philosopher Plato. (Image: Dário Santos)

“I explore the surrealistic and psychedelic movements, combining them with odd ideas and building new worlds and here I mix illustration with these classic artistic influences,” he said.

“Also, I create cartoon illustrations, where I develop new characters that are meant to bring a smile or a laugh to everyone that sees them and colour is a big element for me and is definitely a key aspect in my art.”

“Being an artist is very much a constant process of improving, learning, and testing out new ideas and even artistic styles, which helps with keeping the creative juices running."

Swindon Advertiser: Dário's mural of a giraffe in a bathtub that was part of the Paint Fest in Swindon.Dário's mural of a giraffe in a bathtub that was part of the Paint Fest in Swindon. (Image: Dário Santos)

Dário took part in last year’s Swindon Paint Fest and made a mural of a Giraffe in a tub of flowers.

“Murals are a good platform for my art style, and also, it’s a great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something that is more special,” he said.

“I usually work on paper, wood, or digitally so the difference is enormous as the impact a piece has in a larger size like a mural and the capacity it has to pack a vibrant is much greater.”

You can find Dário on Instagram and on his website.