Romero Britto: From Struggles to Smiles in Miami

Sofia Jones
 | May 8, 2024

Romero Britto, born on October 6, 1963, is one of the most famous artists of our time. He’s made his mark on the art world with his recognizable multi-colored vibrant and happy creations. And, although he’s from Recife, Brazil, Britto thanks the streets of Miami for his success. As the artist himself likes to say, he’s “Brazilian-born and Miami-made.” So it’s only natural for him to display his art all over the city he calls home, where he went from struggles to smiles.

Britto Romero: From Struggles to Smiles

Growing up in poverty, Britto’s early life was marked by struggle.

“Britto feels that art is what kept him sane through dark periods of his childhood – always focusing on  bright colors and positive aspects of life,” Florida International University (FIU) writes.

He painted images on scraps of cardboard and newspaper, honing his craft even in the face of adversity. As he grew up, he says he found inspiration in the works of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. He says these influences would shape his unique artistic style, characterized by a fusion of cubism, pop art, and graffiti painting. Then Miami and a vodka company changed his life.

Romero Britto’s Colorful Miami Art

In 1988, Britto made Miami his home, and the city embraced him with open arms. Miami’s colorful culture, diverse communities, and lively atmosphere provided the perfect backdrop for Britto’s exuberant art.

“In 1989, his work caught the attention of Michel Roux, founder of Absolut Vodka’s ‘Absolutions Art’ advertising campaign, who asked Britto to transform the appearance of an Absolute bottle for an ad campaign that would be seen by millions all over the world. Britto later worked on advertising campaigns for Movado, Enrico Coveri, Disney, BMW, Pepsi, the United Nations, and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Since then, his designs have graced everything from consumer goods like Barbie dolls and pet collars to major corporate campaigns for brands like Disney, BMW, and Apple Computers.

Today, according to Great Big Story, Britto “is the most licensed artist in history.”

But there’s one place that is synonymous with Britto – Miami. Britto’s impact on the city is undeniable.

“There is one place that Britto is everywhere … Miami sidewalks and skyline glitter with Brittos,” CBS Sunday Morning explains. “Over the years, he’s been asked to design and  decorate (Miami) city vehicles, parking meters, hospitals, even lottery tickets.”

His current studio remains in this vibrant coastal city, along with his flagship art gallary and store.

Artistic Landscape: Britto’s Influence

Britto is not just in Miami. His public art installations adorn iconic locations worldwide, including Hyde Park in London, the O2 Arena in Berlin, and the John F. Kennedy Airport.

But the one place Britto art lovers enjoy the most is the Romero Britto Fine Art Gallery along the famed and trendy Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. The must-visit destination for art enthusiasts can immerse themselves in his colorful world, surrounded by pieces that evoke joy and optimism. Most are for sale.

“I hope when people see my art they have a big smile on their face and a huge one in their heart,” Britto says. “And every time they see it over and over again, they remember something special from their lives and that’s basically, for me, it would be a huge accomplishment.”

A Charitable Heart

Beyond his artistic achievements, Britto is committed to giving back. His charitable efforts have supported over 250 organizations, demonstrating that his passion extends beyond the canvas.

“Romero’s company has donated to over 250 charities including the Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami,” the Great Big Story explains.

In 1992, he founded The Happy Art Movement, “with the mission to inspire happiness, fun, love and optimism around the globe through his unique art and vibrant colors.” Among other things, his movement also offered a free coloring book, filled with his art, at his website.

Everything he does, including his charitable work, is because life should be about fun and happiness. Britto wants everyone to be happy, like his art.

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