“My heart, my hands and then my spray cans.” How graffiti artist Mr Dheo created the visual feast that is Collegiate Marques de Pombal

“My heart, my hands and then my spray cans.” How graffiti artist Mr Dheo created the visual feast that is Collegiate Marques de Pombal

The new Collegiate Marques de Pombal student accommodation in Lisbon, which opened its doors just last month, stands out in Collegiate’s already impressive portfolio due to its cutting-edge design, unique features and outstanding facilities.

Collegiate’s interior design team has paid particular attention to the indoor decoration with the use of street artwork for the very first time.

Wanting Lisbon’s world-renown street art tradition to be an integral part of the design of Collegiate Marques de Pombal, Portugal’s best-known graffiti artist Mr Dheo was invited to be involved in this unique project. With 18 years’ experience in the specialist field, the well-respected artist took the time to share how he decorated the building with its residents firmly in mind.


How would you define your artwork and what themes do you pursue?

I define my work as a conceptual representation of my life experiences over the last 18 years. With my art I want to communicate with people because I believe it is the best way for them to “read” my pieces and to understand who I am.

When I work in public, I particularly like to pursue social themes and take on more polemic issues because on a public platform I can reach a wider audience, from the poor to the rich, citizens aged 8 to 80, there is no limit what I can say to them.


In the main communal areas and entrance lobby at Collegiate Marques de Pombal, artwork features on the walls. What was your overall vision for these spaces?

We wanted to make it as young, vibrant and fresh as possible. The idea was to harmonise everything, bring it together as a whole. The patterns and concepts used outside were also needed inside to make the building identifiable both indoors and outdoors. That’s why the lobby, the rooms and everything else have the same language.

How does artwork of Collegiate Marques de Pombal set it apart from anything else in the city?

It is a unique project because we thought about everything. For instance, after I sketched what work I wanted to do on the walls, the architects incorporated triangle shapes in the building to harmonize it with my art. Everything in the building is connected. Marques de Pombal is a one of a kind building in Lisbon because street art has never been so involved in a project from start to finish. That’s exactly what makes it different.

Marques de Pombal also stands out as it is set in an environment deprived of graffiti, it makes it very easy to identify. The heights, the colours, the complexity of the building makes it a landmark in the city. That’s exactly what we wanted – a building that stirs curiosity.

I want people who hang out in the area to wonder “what is going on here?”, “what is this place?”. Even if people don’t know the name of the street or the area, I want them to say to their friends when they meet “oh you know it’s close to this colourful building with triangles.”


Does your artwork aim to do more than just beautify the place? What impact do you think it could have on residents?

If you just want to beautify a place, you can just print an image and put it on the wall just like wallpaper. When it is handmade by an artist, especially in a place like Lisbon, students can think that they can achieve anything.

Street art gives them inspirations and remind them that when they work and believe in their dreams, they can do anything. My art in the building is tangible proof of it. When I was a student, it could have been impossible for me to think that I can make a living out of my drawing. I was not connected to any art school and here I am today!


There is a growing trend of making buildings and spaces “instagrammable”, can you talk me through how your work at Collegiate Marques de Pombal makes it “instagrammable” for students?

Graffiti has become very trendy, which is a good and bad at the same time. People tend to take pictures of everything they see when they travel. Street art is in fact very social media friendly. Students are young and this trend is their language.

Since we started the project in August 2017, the building has been ‘instagrammable’ from every angle. People are enjoying the building, they share it on Instagram. Nowadays it is very important to make a building sharable on social media thus, our purpose was to create a lasting building that young people would like capture on video and through pictures and share on social media.


What the tools of your trade?  

 I see myself as a pure graffiti artist because I use traditional tools which is a spray can only. No tape, no projector, no brushes, no roller paint: I do everything with spray cans. Of course, I use my head above everything else, my heart, my hands and then my spray cans.



For more information, contact Collegiate on +44 1235 250 140 or visit www.collegiate-ac.com.


 Notes to Editors:

 About Marquês de Pombal

 Marquês de Pombal is part of Collegiate’s Prestige Collection with residents benefitting from a private fitness suite, swimming pool and sauna, a 24-hour concierge service, club lounge and an on-site cinema. From €135 per week, it encompasses superior studios space, two bed apartments as well as penthouses with a unique access to a terrace.  It is located in the heart of the capital, close to the university’s campus and iconic Avenida de Liberdade.


About Collegiate

 Collegiate is a leading student accommodation provider who delivered 20,000 beds across 30 sites in the UK in recent years. From private gyms, on-site cinema, study rooms, games area and much more, they provide a home away from home with the little luxuries that will ensure the best student experience.


About Mr Dheo

Always rejecting any kind of Art course in his childhood, he developed his own techniques, which enabled him to evolve without direct influences. Today Mr.Dheo already made interventions in over forty cities all over the world. He collaborates with well-known international brands and companies although he keeps the street as the perfect place to create. For more information on his projects, visit www.mrdheo.com .