In a galaxy far, far away…
A cold, drab planet once lay in darkness, suspended in the emptiness of the eternal void…Yet, one day it was inexplicably set alight. Since then Planet Fire has been bombarding the stratospheric layers of our world with ultra-biotic intergalactic characters, aiming to take over and subvert the dullness of daily life…
This futuristic alternate-reality is the brain-child of Diogo Machado (b. 1980), who lives and works in Cascais, Portugal. With a degree in Graphic Design and a few years experience as a Graphic/Screen Designer under his belt, both in Portugal and Germany, in 2007 he decided to become a full-time visual artist and illustrator. From then on, his funny-looking, peaceful, robot-like creatures and graphics have been appearing a little around the globe in illustrations, paintings, exhibitions, hand-painted walls and objects, designer toys, posters, screen-prints, clothing and a diverse array of media in both private and artistic as well as professional and commercial contexts.
His unique, vivid style is fast becoming a recognised hallmark in this current graphic-soaked culture of ours.
Located in the outer fringes of a multi-layered imaginative mind, one simple glance can convey all the colourful, weird, funny, exciting, cosy and warm features of Planet Fire. And yet, the visual complexity of some of his series demands a deeper, more meaningful look, as amid the stylish, dynamic artwork there are often little, unexpected and surprising details. Most of his pieces are imbued with layers of content which require a closer, more critical analysis. Essentially, though, his work relies only on the desire to entertain people with forms and visual games, greatly depending on his creative mood for the day; whether more conceptual, more figurative, more profound, more critical or simply more fun.
His visual probes have been travelling far and wide for a long time, scanning the lost world of B-Movies, low-budget sci-fi, cartoons, Japanese Kaiju, animation, street art and skateboarding visual culture, fuelling his creative drive and giving rise to a deeply ironical usage of such elements, highlighted with bright colours and a fun-loving feel to them. Music has also served as fuel, from the mellow grooves of roots-rock-reggae to the energizing darkness of metal. Lyrics and moods often end up providing new visual directions, generating illustrative responses as interactive feedback. Just like videogames. The self-confessed addict admits to spending hours hooked-up on one of his multiple consoles, but he can always claim to be "working", neatly concentrated on their concept art.
Nevertheless, it is drawing which takes up most of his time. As he started out he followed a heavily digital and vectorial path, only to eventually return to paint, markers and hand-drawn techniques and styles. Nowadays, lying somewhere in between, he is capable of articulating and enmeshing both under the ever-present orienting light of graphic design. In spite of having been relegated to the background, its power is still very much a part of his method, style and vision. Visual balance, composition, and the use of wild typographic elements are often the corner-stones to his graphic and visual output, craftily managing the equation between commercial and artistic work by drawing energy from as big an audience as he can muster. Spreading art and love from the confines of his Planet Fire to conquer drabness. Adding fuel to fire up the colourlessness of our lives.
Words by Miguel Moore, journalist and writer