July 12, 2017

Contributed
Right, artist Romero Britto works in his Wynwood studio in Miami. Above, a private collector in China recently celebrated the arrival of Britto's largest sculpture to date.

Contributed Right, artist Romero Britto works in his Wynwood studio in Miami. Above, a private collector in China recently celebrated the arrival of Britto's largest sculpture to date.

MIAMI —  Romero Britto was headed to law school and a career as a diplomat when a longing to pursue his artistic interests overtook him. Now, it is his art that enables him to travel the world to spread a message of hope and happiness.

A resident of the artistic Miami community of Wynwood, Britto was born in Brazil and traveled to Europe as a teen, prompting a lifelong love affair with that continent. By all appearances, the love is mutual. The British royal family has hosted him for dinner at Buckingham Palace, and in Switzerland, he has attended Art Basel and twice has participated as a World Economic Forum panelist. Italy enchants him as well.

When he entered Buckingham Palace’s gates, it was “magical,” the artist said. Through his encounter, he was appointed to the board of The Prince of Wales charity, The Prince’s Trust. Philosophically, Britto added, “It is best to be a diplomat without having to represent a country.”

The neo-pop artist known for his vibrant colors and bold patterns is also adored in China. The owner of an online gaming business, Net Dragon, the largest in China, is a fan of his art and commissioned a pig, an historic Chinese symbol of bravery. The pig is the largest sculpture Britto has ever made for a private collector. The artist flew there in June to celebrate the installation of the 30-foot-high sculpture, but he has visited China many times before, he said.

Britto made Miami his home in 1986. His work is highly visible in Miami Beach in outdoor sculptures and in two galleries. His Wynwood studio is very colorful like a “chocolate factory” reminiscent of Willy Wonka. A production company in California is making an animated cartoon film of his life, which is to be released in late 2018 or early 2019. And this fall, expect a Britto clothing line.

Britto caught the eye of many in his native Brazil when he wore a suit of Brazilian flag colors, yellow with green trim, while attending the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where he served as a 2016 Global Ambassador. His artwork could be seen on special event Coca-Cola bottles.

Yellow is his favorite color. “It has a nice energy,” he said. “It is vibrant and the color of the sun.”

Britto keeps a busy schedule. Appearances at the Key West Gallery on Duval Street in early March gave him an opportunity to enjoy the town’s “great vibe” and mingle with visitors from all over the world. 

“I can’t wait to go back,” he said.

Simon and Schuster Publishing encouraged a Britto book project, which expanded his audience even farther. In 2010, “Happy,” containing about 26 of his colorful paintings and a message of optimism, was printed and released. The book convey’s Britto’s appreciation for the simple things in life.

“I try to reflect joy back upon a world that has given me so much, and make people happy by honoring the everyday joys that can be found in all of our lives,” he said.