Brazil-born, Toronto-based artist Diogo Snow, a.k.a. D-Snow, has an imagination as vivid as his colourful graffiti canvases. This month at Miami’s Art Basel, the Brazilian Canadian mounted an art installation that seemed all but guaranteed to go viral—an over-the-top live art show that saw him paint a Lamborghini Super Trofeo as it was suspended vertically in the air. If it seems crazy to paint a half-million dollar car as it’s dangling above the ground, that isn’t even the craziest part. Once it was done, he decided to sell the 3D model as a one-of-one NFT.
D-Snow has made a name for himself as one of the most in-demand street artists in the world, having made custom pieces for celebrities including Drake, Fetty Wap, and Bad Bunny. But he’s also at the forefront of the NFT and crypto market, and has in fact created a brand new global marketplace, called New World Inc, for 3D NFTs designed for augmented reality. With a slate of more than a hundred artists on board for the launch this month, the platform is sure to be an Internet sensation.
Ahead of his big Art Basel stunt, we caught up with D-Snow by video call in the streets of Miami, where, fittingly, he was living it up in one of his own custom painted supercars.
Hey man! Wait. Are you in a Lambo right now?
Yes man! Check it out. It’s crazy. Last night we had around twenty super cars pulling up here in Miami. This is the pink one that I just wrapped and spray painted the door.
“If you give me a spray can right now and show me a wall, I will just go do it. I don’t even think.”
So you’re from Toronto, but you spent your childhood in Sao Paolo. What was the graffiti scene like there growing up?
It was big, actually. The main thing was tags on the street. It’s funny, I know it’s bad, but I used to do tags on the street. But I had the talent to draw, so what I would do is, buy some spray cans, put them in my backpack, find all these tags on walls, and tell the people who owned the buildings that I’d paint over it and turn it into a big graffiti. They’d be like, that sounds amazing, but how much is it going to cost? I’d be like, no, it costs nothing, it’s just my hobby! So that became a big thing for me.
Did you study art?
No, man, I didn’t study. It was just me and my brother and my cousins drawing and doing music—I had an artistic family, so my whole life I was always into art. I was a drummer for so many years. I played for a lot of people. And when I moved to Canada, I was a drummer for a while, then I became a singer. I was on the road for seven years. I had millions of views on YouTube.
Wow. Did you take naturally to being a singer as well?
It was good. But it wasn’t my passion, you know? If you give me a spray can right now and show me a wall, I will just go do it. I don’t even think. I’ll just do it freestyle right away. But as a singer, it was hard. I’d go to the studio and sit down and have to write a song. Writing even one song? Man, it was a headache. It wasn’t my thing. It’s such a big responsibility to be the frontman on the stage and sing to thousands of people.
So what brought you out of music?
It’s been about five years. I was doing good in my singing career, but my career was kind of stuck, and I wasn’t moving forward. My son was just born, and I didn’t want to spend all of my time on marketing and this and that, so I went back to my brother, who owned a construction business, and worked with him to manage that. But right when I decided to stop, these two Portuguese guys in Toronto approached me, and they said they wanted to blow up my career. I was like, is this for real? You know, when people have money, sometimes they want to own you. And that’s exactly what happened.
“I remembered back in the days in Brazil when I used to go back on the streets with my spray can and listen to music on my Discman, and it was like therapy for me. When I paint, I go to a different world.”
That didn’t pan out?
I got excited about the money and I signed the contract, but from there, they owned me. I was literally locked in an office writing articles for a magazine about celebrities and doing a radio show on Portuguese radio. A year and a half passed, and I was like, what the heck am I doing in my life? I don’t want this. I’m stressed out—and I’m not like that, I’m a super cool dude and I’m always happy. I said to them, look, listen, I signed with you guys to make music, and I’m not making music! They wanted to use my name and image to build their brand. So I left the company.
And that’s when you got back into art?
I got home and I needed to do something to relax. I remembered back in the days in Brazil when I used to go back on the streets with my spray can and listen to music on my Discman, and it was like therapy for me. When I paint, I go to a different world. I forget about everything and I’m just there on my vibe. It’s my passion. I love my art. You know Michael’s in Toronto?
The art store? Yeah.
I went to Michael’s and I bought some canvas, some paint, whatever, and I just started to paint to relax. I started doing it in the locker room of my condo. Bro. I started posting it on my IG, just for fun. I don’t have a ton of followers, but I have a good following, some celebrities follow me and stuff too. People start reaching out. It was like, what? You’re a drummer, a singer, and you paint too? Since when? How much do you want for the paintings?
So you started selling them?
Every week, it was like, I want to buy, I want to buy! It made me realize, there’s a business here. I can do something I love that’s my passion and make money off of it—and make this my professional career. Since then, I haven’t stopped. My two best years so far have been during the pandemic. People ordering my pieces like crazy. I got my own studio. Money has been coming in. So I’m so thankful for those two guys who put me in the box with the music, because without them, I wouldn’t get back to my art.
“We’re hanging a Lamborghini on a crane, and we’re spray painting it in the air.”
What was your first exposure to the NFTs?
I got signed by the Bieber Industries, which is the company of Jeremy Bieber, Justin Bieber’s father. We had a meeting and I met this guy Jay, who was creating their website, he was the genius behind the company’s apps and all this. I created a drawing of this bear, and then got Jay to bring it to life as a 3D rendering. But he didn’t just show me on a computer. He showed me in augmented reality. He put the bear right inside my studio, in AR! I was freaking out. It was crazy. That was right at the time when NFTs were getting big, and I’m like, I need to be the first guy in Canada to open up an NFT gallery. Let’s get a gallery, paint it white, and have all the art as NFTs in AR.
And did that end up coming together?
No, because we were still in lockdown, so I thought, instead, why don’t we sign some artists, we create their 3D art in AR, we find a famous street in Toronto, and we create an event where we pin all the art along one street in AR. It would be an augmented reality show on the street. In the end we decided to build our own app for the AR NFTs, and now we’ve signed a lot of artists and celebrities.
What do you have going on at Art Basel now in Miami?
I’ve got a bunch of exhibitions. On the last day, we’re hanging a Lamborghini on a crane, and we’re spray painting it in the air. I’ve been breaking my head with insurance and engineers and mechanics.
Wow. Don’t drop it.
That’s what everybody says! I was like, now that everyone’s said it, we are going to drop it. I wouldn’t mind. If I drop the Lambo, the next day my pieces are going for $300,000. [Laughs.] Just hanging the Lamborghini is going to go viral. If I drop it, it will go super viral! We’re also releasing NFTs of the Lamborghinis I paint. Hopefully, if nothing happens, we’re going to bring it down, do a 3D scan, and sell a one of one, the actual Lamborghini that was painted in the air. Then on the 10th, I’m taking this Lamborghini for a spin on the racetrack, and then someone’s going to race it.
So you can’t drop it. You need it for the race.
I need it! I don’t want it to be broken because I want to have a chance to drive it!