What happens when professor-scholar Lisa Sánchez González embarked on publishing the first definitive collection of Puerto Rican Folktales in over 50 years? She teamed-up with a Puerto Rican artist who could render illustrations that capture the retelling of these quintessential stories and Puerto Rican culture. That artist is Teofilo Oliveri.
The moment you pick up Puerto Rican Folktales, from its cover to the stunning illustrations inside the book, readers are treated to Olivieri’s talent as a fine artist and illustrator. Olivieri worked closely with Sánchez González to create renderings that bring readers closer to the stories. By focusing his lively imagination, distinctive style and colorful palette, Olivieri’s illustrations brings the tales and legends to life.
Raised during the 1960s in Hoboken NJ, as a child Olivieri was intrigued with the visual word of drawing and design at a very early age, as far back as he can remember. Comic book superheroes topped his list of early interests, as he honed his skills, though he never studied art and has never had any formal training.
In the 1980s, Olivieri purchased his first Apple computer and immediately began to master every type of software associated with creating illustration. Hundreds of images were created in a very bold and graphic style featuring solid bodied characters with minimal expression, establishing Olivieri as one of the most formidable conceptual illustrators in the US. After spending time in Boston working as a digital illustrator throughout the 1990s, Olivieri moved to New York City in 2001.
After so many years working digitally via computers, Olivieri’s passion for a completely new direction was born circa 2003. He was tired of being cooped up working alone all of the time. His new style of hand rendered works on book covers was the perfect solution. He acquired book covers from bookstores, libraries and individuals in the community at large. The book covers were used in place of canvas, he painted directly on them. The public response was immediate to his new unique artistic medium, as videographers, TV crews and writers coveted interviews with Olivieri on the street. Highly acclaimed interior designers we snapping up his original one-of-a-kind works and selling them to their very wealthy clients. Sixth Ave and 23rd street was forever enlivened by Olivieri’s presence and wonderful personality.
In 2010, Olivieri returned to working digitally, creating mind boggling intricate patterns featuring: animals, insects, nature, lovers, athletes, and fantasy scenes. These highly commercial images have been licensed throughout the world and are currently selling through many online stores.
Olivieri’s illustrations have brought a unique and powerful energy to national ad campaigns, magazines, journals, books and CD liner notes. His client list includes: The New York Times, Washington Post, Soul Train Awards and Arista to name a few. Extremely versatile, from book covers to massive murals, Olivieri’s work is very prolific and reminiscent of futuristic tribalism. It evokes an esoteric and timeless tone. Check out Puerto RIcan Folktales today.