Photo: Jake Chessum

On weekends in high school I would go around Puerto Rico and paint female characters and organic forms on random walls. I like the textures of buildings as they deteriorate. I did a mural 177 feet long in Old San Juan, and an abandoned pool in the rain forest in Rio Grande that we turned into a skateboard park. It’s not graffiti: I never use a can. Always a brush.

I love the skateboarding scene—it’s a really refreshing, anarchist sport. For the Havana Biennial, I painted a park and gave away 40 skateboards. I’ve painted some rooftop ramps here since I’ve moved to New York, but they don’t last too long before they’re painted over. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of permission, to paint in the streets here.

The recession doesn’t affect young artists as much. Except that all this high-class lifestyle that art students wanted to achieve has come down to a realistic level. You’re going to be an artist, but you’re not going to have an artist loft in Soho. It’s time to get a little more real.

Maldonado’s most recent mural, for Real Art Way, was just completed above a tattoo shop in Hartford, Connecticut.

As told to Alexandra Peers.

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