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Spain’s Belin is well-known for his rosy-cheeked graffiti characters, which have a strong fine art quality to them. Belin is equally adept at painting huge murals, canvases and making sculptures, all of which carry his distinctive style. His broad technical abilities and sense of humour make him an artist, like many of his peers, that the world should be paying a lot more attention to. We painted our cheeks and caught up with Belin.

This interview was written by Global Street Art, who are producing a crowd-funded book of street art from all over the world with Unbound.

When I was very little I made clay dolls and drew a lot on paper. I was always interested in drawing, but it was just as a hobby. Around 1995 I first picked up a spraycan; that’s when I became more interested in painting and graffiti gradually became part of my life.

My art was born in Linares, the place inspired me. I’m still living in Linares, but now I travel a lot, and I feel at home everywhere. Belin comes from my last name Belinchón. So simple!

My involvement in graffiti was purely illegal, but then I started painting murals and doing legal work to pay for my paint. I’ve had some problems with the police, and even today I paint murals and graffiti illegal when I want. Also last year [2011] I painted a mural for the national police [force] inside their building on request.

When I first started painting graffiti I painted a lot of letters, but almost always I used a comic character alongside my pieces. I started doing more characters when I started hanging out with other graffiti artists who painted letters. I decided to paint more characters to entertain the murals. I still paint letters occasionally.

I’m self taught; everything I’ve learned has been on my own accomplishments. I have always worked hard to have a good and proper style. When I create something, be it a painting or a sculpture, I try and let go of preconceptions, I use any material and shape to create a good work. I do not know which major artists have influenced me, but I think all of us are influenced by every artist that we see throughout our lives.

My canvas art was born naturally, by the need to keep my work alive. Street art is ephemeral, so I started to paint pictures. I’ve loved working in three dimensions since I was very young; I always liked toys so one day I decided to make one of my characters in 3D; my sculptures were born.

I painted in countries that I never would have imagined, like Israel, Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil and the United States. In each country I felt very welcome.

I have had many experiences, always good, and I’ve met amazing people. I have friends now across half the world. That’s so important and it’s something that I never imagined. I prefer to paint in abandoned places, lonely places that provide an inspiring space to paint in peace; that’s what I prefer today.

I hope that I won’t stop but live for many years to produce countless works. When I die I hope everyone will still have the opportunity to enjoy what I enjoyed: art.

Learn more about Belin