Behind the Artwork: Q&A with Daniel Bonilla

By : Camille Hayward


Earlier this month my colleague, Kayla Elorza, Motion Graphics Artist, captured pictures of several of the recent murals painted on the streets of SoHo. We were so inspired by the artwork that we shared several on our Instagram. One mural that caught our eye was a series of vibrant pieces in the Burberry windows that spelled out, “Black Lives Matter,” “We are One,” and “Love.” Daniel Bonilla is one of the artists behind those paintings. His colorful and powerful murals can be found around the city and continue to reach eyes far beyond New York. Born and raised in Manhattan, he credits visiting the city museums as a child, especially The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for inspiring him to become an artist of impact today.

What initially inspired you to pursue art, and specifically, street art?

It was one of the few things that actually captivated my attention as a child. It was cool being able to create something from whatever I had around the house or a blank paper and pencil. I do not necessarily consider myself a street artist but if I have the chance, I will create anywhere.

How would you describe your style of mural art?

Freeform and on the spot. Most of the time when I’m doing art it’s in the moment. I stop and think for a moment and then forget about the world and create.

The messages in your murals are very clear and concise. What role does art play in changing society?

Words and images are powerful. It sparks a conversation and it fills people with emotions. It’s definitely a start in a direction towards change.

Did you choose to paint this mural specifically under the Burberry sign? If so, why did you choose that location?

YES! One, the space was available. Two, it’s right on the strip where people walkabout. The area knows Burberry and I thought it would be a good look for them to do something positive right off the bat. Three, I always want to associate myself with something bigger than me so other people can see the art!

You seem to do a lot of collaborations with other artists. How do you align on a vision when you are working with other creatives?

You talk it out. Start off by listening to the idea and then chime in little by little. It’s like cooking in a big kitchen or playing a team sport. All have one goal.

You use a lot of bright colors — is there a reason you gravitate toward more bold hues?

YES!! I love colors. The world is better with them. It shows that colors also have a harmony that we should follow.

What traits does it take to be an artist in New York City?

Being persistent. Hustle hard. Knock on doors. Follow through. Drive and hunger. All the traits you need to achieve anything else, not only in art. Also, be prepared to do it for love. Show up and work, and watch people pay interest.

What do you want the viewer to take away when they see your art in SoHo?

Please share and give credit where credit is due. I let the viewers interpret what I’ve created!

You can check out more of Daniel’s art on his Instagram, @artmandan. To view the entire street art series posted by VidMob, click here.