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My Favorite Brazilian Artist

August 8, 2016

The Rio Games are finally here and this seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce my favorite Brazilian artist—Moi!


A few years before retiring from illustration to focus on writing, my agent contacted me to ask how much more work I could produce. There’s a lot of down time being an illustrator so I told her I could churn out twice as many illustrations as I was currently producing—if she could sell them. She said, “Why don’t you change your style?”


I was insulted; I liked the way I painted and had spent a lifetime mastering my craft. But I was lured by the prospect of more money and decided to try. Over the next few months I painted some of my worst pictures. Mrs. Chatterbox offered a solution: “Don’t just change your style; change everything. Create another identity.”


At first I thought she was nuts, but the more I thought about it the better the idea seemed. After all, actors do this all the time. So I decided to become someone else. But who? My agent said the market was ripe for non-white artists from countries other than the USA. I chose my mother’s maiden name (Correia) and became an artist from Brazil (where I’m told there are many Portuguese people). In my fake profile I described myself as Esteban Correia, an artist from Rio de Janeiro who taught himself how to paint while working as a lifeguard on a nude beach.


My alter ego’s style is bolder, more primal than mine. Esteban doesn’t waste time sketching, blending or building tonalities from varying textures of paint. His work has the immediacy of graffiti, the primal cry of the people. Without any formal training, his work pulses with the imagery of the imaginary slums where he claims to have grown up, influenced by roiling cultures the artist pretends to have experienced. Instead of mixing his blacks from other colors in the traditional manner, he uses black straight from the tube. Esteban isn’t burdened by art history and paints from the gut, using primal colors to intensify the powerful emotions of the pretend streets he pretends to have grown up on.


Esteban Correia’s work did find buyers, but his illustrations never sold as well as my more traditional work, but for a while it was fun having an alter ego, someone who was far more impulsive and emotional with his art.






















It’s been years since I’ve interacted with Esteban. Eventually, we lost contact with each other. I hear his work visa expired and he was deported back to Brazil.  I understand he’s given up painting and has returned to being a lifeguard on a nude beach.


I wish him well.




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I really like that you explored a different side of yourself. I bet there is a lot more of yourself to discover and develop. Go for it!
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 8, 2016
Those are really cool. It's like you had a pen name!
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 8, 2016
I like Hayes' work more than Correia's!!
By: fishducky on August 8, 2016
Neat work. It's amazing how many sides there are to each of us. Maybe you will explore another one before too long.
By: messymimi on August 8, 2016
I actually love these paintings. I love the splashes o color. If I owned a house, I'd probably buy one from you to hang on the wall.
By: Michael Offutt on August 8, 2016
o.m.g. i feel like i've just been listening to sasha fierce or chris gaines...
By: TexWisGirl on August 8, 2016
Isn't it amazing how role playing can uncover hidden talents?
By: Pixel Peeper on August 8, 2016
I think that's kind of the opposite of our local Dairy Queen advertising Oreo Blizzards, and putting Hydrox cookies in them. This would be like Dairy Queen giving us Oreos, but telling us they're Hydrox.
By: Val on August 8, 2016
I love it! Now tell the truth...did your wife ever cheat on you with Esteban the chubby Brazilian Chatterbox ?
By: cranky on August 8, 2016
Your alter ego knows how to paint! I love the primitive vibe along with the strong colours and backgrounds. The one with the couple is really almost neon in bold. I love the meanings behind it and would like to learn more. You are really truly quite the artist.
By: Birgit on August 8, 2016
I think these are really cool! Several years ago, I had an "alter ego" blog---it was fun at first, but it became too time consuming to keep two blogs going at once, so I finally gave it up.
By: marcia @ Menopausal Mother on August 8, 2016
It's a little sad that taking on another identity works well sometimes. Crooks do this all the time!!! Now before I get into trouble I'm not suggesting you're a crook. But crooks do use other identities very well.
By: red Kline on August 8, 2016
Wow, incredible to think someone so vastly different might be lurking in us all. With todays headlines I could so relate to the nails in the head and really liked the suit pulling dollars from the sea. Your Correia makes the viewer think.
By: Arkansas Patti on August 9, 2016
Ah hah ... the hidden side of Stephen Hayes. There's something to be said for creating an alter ego -- as you suggest, you can sometimes be bolder, more open and up-front. And ... not a bad place to retire, either!
By: Tom Sightings on August 9, 2016
It's nice to have different identities. Great story.
By: Sage on August 9, 2016
How about an alter ego as a writer? I bet you could write terrific erotica--or maybe design and write a comic book? Never too Late.
By: jo on August 9, 2016
That fellow did some nice work! Fascinating post. It is a bit the same way with writing. The nom de plume is good tool.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 9, 2016
That's awesome. I love that Esteban worked as a lifeguard on a nude beach. I hope he enjoyed opportunities to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I really like the loud combination of darks and lights in those paintings, Stephen. Well done.
By: Robyn Engel on August 9, 2016
An alter-ego? Oh, I would never think of doing that. ;-)
By: Al Penwasser on August 9, 2016
Esteban come back to the light...actually if you need a sub at the beach, I'm your man.
By: Rick Watson on August 9, 2016
the one of the couple with their cocktails looks like they are in a pot ready to be cooked! Heh heh.....
By: Kathe W. on August 12, 2016

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