Udatxo (Udane Juaristi, 1985) studied Arts in Bilbao and Paris. She has exhibited in Spain, Germany, France and Morocco. She now paints urban scenes, inspired in the street. “People, movement, old streets, urban scenes, people’s clothes”. She also uses old photos to link the past and the present.

Photo: Enrique Moreno Esquibel

How did you start doing urban art and why did you choose this career?

I’ve always been interested in urban art. As a child, I used to look at murals and drawings on walls. I used to put bits of these painted places in my paintings. 

After graduating, I started painting murals in bars and houses. I also started pasting my drawings in the street. I still do this because I enjoy working in abandoned and charming places. My first large-format mural in the street led to new projects.

Tell us about your Besarkada project with Rebobinart. What did you get out of taking part in this project?

It was a great experience. As a former football player, I knew a bit about this story. Painting something so important for women’s football was special. Meeting the pioneers of Eibar and talking to them was inspiring. Doing what I love and paying tribute to these women was rewarding.

Photo: Enrique Moreno Esquibel

What is the role of women in muralism and street art? Have you faced challenges as a woman in this field? How have you overcome them?

At first, I didn’t think about my role as a woman in art and muralism. It’s important to be active in this work because it’s mostly male-dominated. Nowadays, more and more women are involved in muralism, which helps young artists. It’s important to have more women in this field to inspire future artists.

What advice would you give young artists starting out in muralism?

Mural painting is rewarding. You can paint, make money and bring art to the streets. There are now more places that are committed to urban art. It’s exciting to see how people experience live art. The experiences and feelings that emerge are very valuable.

How do you think your artistic style has developed over the years?

Over time, my brushwork has become better and I am more confident, which is reflected in my work. In terms of subject matter, although the street is still my main inspiration, I used to paint broader scenes and now I focus more on specific elements. I also feel the need to experiment with new subjects, more natural and abstract. I feel like experimenting and I think it’s necessary. In terms of technique, I used to use more mixed media, but now I focus mainly on painting.

What was the most challenging project you have done so far?

The Bilbao project was quite challenging for me, especially at the beginning. I felt very demanding, mainly because of my own expectation that I was capturing correctly what I wanted to express. The most difficult thing for me is to find the right sketch, that initial phase is crucial.

What impact do you hope your works will have, wherever they are?

I would like my works to leave no one indifferent, to move something in the people who see them. I hope they convey a message, something that resonates with them… and hopefully something beautiful.

Can you describe your creative process from the conception of an idea to the execution of the mural?

I start by looking through my photos for those that might be useful for the project. Then I start testing and editing in Photoshop, experimenting with colours and composition. Once I am happy with the digital design, I print it out and start painting, usually with acrylics. This process allows me to plan and visualise the work before executing it on the mural.

What has it meant in your career to work in different cities and countries?

It has always been a challenge to get out of my comfort zone, especially travelling alone. However, mural painting has taught me to overcome these fears. Now I find it easier and even necessary to go out from time to time, experience new places and meet new people. Learning and sharing experiences with other artists in different places enriches my career and gives me satisfaction.

How important is public space as a canvas for your work?

Public space is very important to me. It allows art to be closer and more accessible to everyone. Mural art transforms empty walls into something meaningful, allowing everyone to enjoy art. In addition, public art has the ability to communicate messages to a wide audience, revitalize areas and connect with the community.

Have you explored art forms other than murals? Which ones?

Yes, I paint and for a while I did screen printing. I also designed and printed T-shirts and sweatshirts, which was a very nice experience. I’ve done design work, like making cover art for bands. I like experimenting with different art forms.

How do you see the future of urban art and what role do you want to play in it?

I think that urban art and murals are gaining more and more recognition and support and I hope that this will continue. In the future I would like to be more aware of the power my work can have on the street and be more conscious of the message I am conveying and what I want to teach and contribute with my work.

What future projects do you have in mind and what would you like to achieve in the long term?

I have several murals planned until September and an exhibition at the end of this month at the Canal Gallery in Barcelona. In the long term I would like to spend more time experimenting in my studio, exploring new ideas and thinking more about my work. Above all, I want to continue doing what I’m passionate about: painting.