By Lala the Sunchaser.
Born in Ilhéus, Franci (sounds like Frankie) moved to Itacaré fourteen years ago with his older brother, Thor. Yes, that Thor. Business owner, political candidate, and shining star. In 1998, Thor opened Thor Surf Shops and School and Franci has been instrumental in the growth of his brother’s business. When I asked a few people who’s the best surf instructor in Itacaré, Franci’s name was mentioned over and over. I haven’t had a chance to take one of his classes yet but I am already a fan.
What do you do here in Itacaré?
I’m a surf instructor, a shaper (he makes surf boards), and an artist.
In the surf world, who are your influences?
Of course, my brother, Thor. And Washington Soledade. He was the first surfer in Ilhéus. When I was 16 years old, he invited me to work with him at his surf shop.
What is your favorite beach in Itacaré?
What other city compares to Itacaré in terms of the landscape and beaches?
That’s a tough one. I would say Camburi which is close to São Paulo and shares the same Atlantic Rainforests as Itacaré. When you surf, you can see green!
What makes you happy? What’s important to you?
My health, my work, my family and friends. In that order.
Where do you live and with whom?
I live at Kilometer 6 in the middle of the jungle alone. I don’t have a television so I spend a lot of time listening to the sounds of nature. I like to read and play by guitar too. Being alone is good for me … a nice balance since I work with people all day.
What is your one wish?
To have my own house in the middle of the jungle.
(Born in late June, Franci is a home body by nature like many Cancers.)
Tell me about your artwork. How long have you been making art?
I have been making the small surfboards for ten years now. The first one I made was so ugly, it wouldn’t even stand up straight. It was just a test but I put it in the window of my first “shaper” shop and a tourist bought it. I made five more the following week and sold them all. Then ten the next week and sold those too. So on and so on … I’ve only been doing the optical illusion paintings and boards for the past three years.
During my second visit with Franci, he shared the story of a friend who is a formally-trained artist. This friend labeled him a technical artist and Franci was relieved to hear that there was a name for his particular ability. This friend suggested he take a look at the work of Op Art artist and pioneer, Vincent Vasarely. One year later after a near-fatal illness, Franci searched online and began copying the style of Mr. Vasarely. He said, “At that time, I wanted to be him.” Franci told me that he painted 5-6 hours consecutively some days. Painting nursed him back to health. A year or so later, he returned to Itacaré with twelve optical illusion paintings and started selling them on the main road.
From our previous discussions, I calculated that he began painting at 28 years old. So I asked, why so late? What inspired this?
My ex-girlfriend was a major influence. She comes from a family of painters. I began painting when we were living together.
What inspires me to continue painting is having a balanced life, without stress and problems. When I am working and can afford to take care of myself, I feel balanced.
What does Itacaré need to build a better future?
More emphasis and resources dedicated to the education of children. Also, a collective consciousness that will alter the political atmosphere. I learned to live in Itacaré so I want it to flourish but it’s been slow going. I am hopeful, nonetheless.
I believe that in the mind of each person, exists a world. We are the creators of this world and that means anything is possible. For me, it has been emotional conflicts that have inspired my evolution as an artist and a man. With each life challenge, a new idea materializes.
Our interview was scheduled for one hour. Two and a half hours later, I walked out of Thor’s shop floating and inspired. I look forward to getting to know Franci and watching him in action on the beach.