Neon Mysticism of Tiago Marinho

Caged, Tiago Marinho, 2021

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiago Marinho, a 3D artist and creative director based in Lisbon, Portugal. Marinho is part of a growing community of freelancers who, from the comfort of their own homes, are able to work with numerous clients from all over the world. In our conversation, we discussed how he came to be an artist, his unexpected rise to prominence in the digital and design worlds, past and current projects, and, of course, NFTs.

Before creating digital art, Marinho studied Communication Design at the Fine Arts School in Lisbon for three years. However, towards the end of his degree, he quickly grew dissatisfied and frustrated with the rigidity of his courses and sought new forms of self-expression. Little did he know that when he was introduced to 3D software suites Cinema 4D and Octane, he would find his ‘modus operandi’ and rediscover his love for art. Soon thereafter, within a matter of months, he began receiving dozens of requests daily for collaborations with individuals and major labels and brands such as Warner, Sony, and Bentley Motors. Several of his clients are DJs who have signed with either label, including Zero 9:36, ROUGE, Kura, and Matt Nash. He would produce artwork for their new releases, music videos, and motion graphics for their concerts. One of his favourite aspects of working with his clients is fostering personal relationships with each of them and watching their careers take off.

Broken Touch, Tiago Marinho, 2021

When I asked Marinho about the primary influences informing his art practice, he listed a wide array of sources ranging from the work of other 3D artists he follows on Instagram, like Fvckrender (@fvckrender) and Beeple (@beeple_crap), his passion for music, and more recently, art history. In his latest work, he incorporates and blends art historical references, particularly classical and Renaissance sculpture, alongside elements such as neon lights, reflections, and smoke to create awe-inspiring pieces. As an artist, his primary focus is on creating eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing pieces as opposed to making an explicitly political or social statement. That is not to say he is disinterested in politics or won’t on occasion grapple with the political subject matter, but generally prefers to not mix art and politics. Ultimately, Marinho advocates for freedom of choice and completely supports artists who want to use their art as social activism. But for him, art is a form of escapism, which during these uncertain times, definitely carries a certain appeal.

Forgive me, Michelangelo, For I Have Sinned, Tiago Marinho, 2021

These days, Marinho is mostly working on NFTs or non-fungible tokens. After years of tirelessly working 15 hour days on commission, NFTs have given him the flexibility to unleash his creativity and make what he feels in the moment. As of now, he’s “trying to exploit NFTs as much as possible, I’m genuinely having the most fun I’ve had in a while.” If you were to ask what he thinks about the recent NFT boom, he couldn’t tell you what exactly is driving demand or explain the mechanisms behind the blockchain, but views it as a largely positive development, at least from the perspective of the artist. Online marketplaces bring artists together and sales have the potential to provide an additional source of income, notwithstanding gas fees. As his collector base expands, he strives to deliver meaningful experiences in line with his aesthetic, as shown in ‘Caged’, which depicts a female figure with a child inside a glass cube. Marinho has been minting NFTs since early March, accessible on platforms MakersPlace and Foundation.

Amor Est Lux, Tiago Marinho, 2021

In the near future, he wants to continue doing freelance work and collaborating with artists and brands he likes. The key is variety, which is something you cannot always attain from a 9 to 5 job at an agency. Marinho also works as a Senior Designer for A World Away, a Las Vegas talent management agency, where the hours are flexible and in-person attendance is not required. His hope is to be a collector of NFTs and currently has his sights on 5 to 6 artists whose work he enjoys.

To conclude our interview, I asked Marinho if he had any tips for those who are just starting out in the arts. His main word of advice, as cliché as it may sound, is to post your work. Probably out of fear of failure, it is not uncommon for newcomers and aspiring artists to hesitate to post even though it is the best way to get your name out there. Having a strong work ethic and perseverance also goes a long way (those hours will eventually pay off!) With respect to art-making, he fiercely believes in creating based on intuition and staying true to yourself.

Follow Tiago on Instagram: @tiagommarinho