Behind the Scenes Artist Q&A

David “DaveL” Lavernia (@davel_art) is a Cuban-American muralist, street artist and painter based out of Miami, Florida. Drawing from his South Florida and Caribbean roots, he is inspired by color, nature, animals and frequently uses his platform to draw awareness to conservation efforts and animal advocacy. DaveL’s work can be experienced in many parts of the country as well as abroad.

In addition to his work as DaveL, David dedicates a lot of his time to work in The Florida Keys as he also serves as Creative Director for the Florida Keys Community Center, a non-profit organization whose main objective is to drive awareness, education and change as it relates to human effects on the environment. David organizes and curates artist collectives each month to create art pieces that elaborate on the non-profits work.

KBFA: What motivated you to become an artist?

DaveL: When I was young (around 6), I learned that I loved to sketch. A lot. I credit a lot of my inspiration early on to National Geographic magazines and the Audubon Society. I became obsessed with attempting to illustrate all of the animals and plants I saw. At one point, my family and friends started realizing that this wasn’t just a hobby. While art helped me find who I was through expression, I didn’t see or refer myself as an “artist” until I was in my late teens after friends began asking me to paint the grip-tape and decks of their skateboards. At that point too my style really began to take shape and that’s the moment I began looking at anywhere and everywhere to paint and explored different medias. From small illustrations to large walls. I realized this was all I wanted to do and people actually wanted to buy what I wanted to paint! Fast forward to today, what was just a passion for painting animals and the world around me, what now motivates me to be an artist is my ability to use my art to honor and appreciate the animals and nature around us. So short answer, nature motivated me to become an artist.

KBFA: What’s your favorite part of the process?

DaveL: I really enjoy first meeting a client and hearing their concept or idea and the inspiration behind it. It’s contagious! That said, my favorite part of the process is actually creating and being able to see it develop visually. What was just an idea is now something you can experience. That’s definitely my favorite part.

KBFA: Your work features an amazing use of color and contrast, what inspires your aesthetic?

DaveL: I attribute my style and aesthetic to my South Florida roots. Being from Miami definitely brings an innate love for vibrant and contrasting colors because Miami literally is so vibrant and colorful. The tropical flowers, sherbet sunrises and sunsets, and marine life – all I see is color. Very rarely, do I paint grayscale or monotone. Even my sketches eventually get colored in.

KBFA: You’ve done a number of wall murals, do you prefer working in larger mediums and how does it affect your process?

DaveL: I definitely enjoy working on larger murals and canvases. For me, it makes me focus a lot more on placement and getting the scale just right. It takes a lot of planning, and taking a step back from the piece to see if its proportional. Once I get the sketch, and am satisfied with how the piece is laid out, I get to painting. There’s just something about seeing a piece of art displayed very large to me, especially on the side of buildings, its effect is a different experience altogether!

KBFA: If you were to express yourself in another medium or discipline, what would that be and why?

DaveL: Sculpture. And not just any sculpture, but using found art as a means to reuse and recycle materials. I’ve been increasingly more active in conservation and advocacy efforts and think there is a surplus of items, particularly single-use plastics, that instead of ending up in the ocean or land, can be repurposed into art. Looking forward to exploring that path sometime soon.

KBFA: Social Media has changed the landscape in terms of accessibility to art and how people interact with art. We’re interested in your thoughts about the relationship between social media and art? Has it impacted the way you approach your work in any way?

DaveL: Before the rise of social media, traditional ways of consuming or engaging with art was something you had to pursue – an art collector looking for a piece and how extensive the search meant what the collector could actually find. It was rather limited to what someone considered to be in their scope. Now you can be connected to an unfamiliar type of art from an unfamiliar artist all because you clicked that hashtag for that theme you were looking for on Instagram in a matter of seconds! The majority of my career growth is attributed to the explosion of social media and how we communicate and interact with media digitally — it was the catalyst I needed for clients to connect with my work. It continues to be vital to my art and more recently, integral to my conservation and sustainability platform.

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