Born in Angola in 1997 and raised in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal. Mario Veloso discovered photography during his adolescence. First photographing for fun, Mario began experimenting with the camera, shooting friends, and people in the neighborhood.
Mario collaborated with multiple brands around the globe. Having his work published in magazines such as GQ, HipHoper, and others. Mario specializes in Fashion Photography, Street Photography, Documentary, Portraiture, Music, and Video on both film and digital. Currently Mario lives in Perth, Austrailia.
How does the environment you grew up in influence your art?
I grew up in the outskirts of Lisbon, in a suburb called Cacem or AKA (slang). My art is heavily influenced by the environment I grew up in. I'm a child of Angolan immigrants. We moved to Portugal when I was 5 years old. Living in Lisbon as an immigrant was really tough. My parents had to work really hard. My mom was illegal in the country so she had to work long hours to provide for us. My parents worked all day long so I used to spend a lot of time in the streets with my friends and my brother. I had to grow up very fast compared to the other kids. My family and I had really tough times but we always had each other's back.
The area I lived in was sort of dangerous when I was in primary school. A lot of my friends from primary school are in or have been to jail. Some are still involved in drugs and crime. I remember when I was around 10 years old and I was playing football in the afternoon, I saw a lady being robbed in front of me. I promised myself that I would never fall for that life. Despite all this, Cacem has a lot of cultures, with immigrants from Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tome to name a few. I learned a lot from their culture. We use to have dance contests, rap contests, football tournaments and that was so sick. It kind of helped some kids to stay out of trouble.
It was a blessing growing up in a poor environment because it taught me to be mentally strong, humble, inclusive, and free. Humble and inclusive enough to help everyone, even share my last cent. Free in the way I think, dress, my art practice. We don't follow rules, we make our own. You can see the influence of these two worlds in my photos. My art portrays culture against the harshness of the street.
What makes you do what you do every day?
I left Portugal when I was 18 with only a few euros in my pocket. I left to chase my dreams and to show people where I came from what they can achieve. I want them to look at me or at my work and feel proudly represented, inspired, and motivated. My main goal is to help my people. Especially the young generation to get out of this ghetto lifestyle illusion and achieve their dreams. I like having the freedom of expressing myself through my art and my thoughts. I'm free to do what I want whenever I want.
How do you think you contribute to the scene?
I collaborate with independent streetwear brands from different parts of the world. and I am able to showcase my idea of street culture and mix it with the brand's vision. I photographed brands from Korea, Japan, Spain, Portugal, France, Australia, USA, UK, and many more. Wherever I am around the world, I am fortunate enough to be able to capture these brands.
Photos of the F/W Campaign of GRMY shot & styled by Mario.
How do you see the urban scene in Lisbon compared to other European cities? Strengths and Weaknesses.
Portugal's urban scene compared to the other European countries is very different. I think we're very dope! But we have a lot of growing to do, like we don't have any big brands, designers or a big name representing the urban scene here.
People love Portugal. We throw the best parties, our music, and culture are very different from any country in Europe. We got a unique vibe that no one else has. Unfortunately, Portugal is a country that has no money and no opportunity for young people, especially in the art scene. So it's kind of hard to make it when the minimum salary is 635 euros. Also when you're black in Portugal it's twice as hard man, there's isn't just any opportunity for you.
Artists and Brands references in Lisbon for you?
My artist references from Lisbon vary from musicians, photographers, and artists to name a few. There's a lot of people but I will put down the ones that are inspiring me right now: ToyToy T-Rex, Tristany , Al Varo Guilherme, Herberto Smith, Welket Bunge, Dj Danifox, Hugo Barros. Brands references from Lisbon, I don't really have one but I would say Alexandra Moura, Son of a gun, Constanca Entrudo.
A photo of the F/W Campaign of GRMY shot & styled by Mario.
Currently, you live in Australia. What do you think about the scene over there? And what brands and artists are you interested in?
I'm currently living in Perth. Perth is the most isolated city in the world so I think certain people here are in a bubble and they judge each other a lot. I think there's a lot of room for improvement in Perth. There are a few people who are trying new things and doing amazing stuff.
Despite that I think it's a very different scene compared to Europe, they have a different style. I think because people in Perth are so isolated and the Australian dollar is nothing compared to the euro, the youth of Perth have to make do with what they find in vintage shops, labels from over east or save up enough to support their friends brands, like Garbage TV, Riot Hill, Cabinet Noir, StreetX, and 1OFFSTORE that are accomplishing great things not only in Perth but worldwide. Big shout out to everyone.
In your opinion, what is the relevance of the existence of a platform like The Next Cartel?
The Next Cartel is what fashion and upcoming artists need. I think we need a platform like this that supports emerging brands and artists. I think you guys are doing an amazing job.
A photo for a campaign of Butnot, shot and styled by Mario.
Any projects for 2021 that you would like to share?
I'm going to try to be more active on social media, not only posting my work with brands but I want to start posting more personal projects as well. I also plan to do my first solo exhibition here in Australia. I've been collaborating with brands this whole time so I think now it's the time to release my own brand. So more news about that will come soon 😉
A photo of the F/W Campaign of GRMY shot & styled by Mario.