Maria Raquel Couto got involved with street art in 2009 by helping out her boyfriend, who had been painting walls in Belo Horizonte for two years under the moniker KC. “One day I started to notice how much I loved painting and being on the streets, and I felt the need to create something of my own,” she told Subsolo Art. Her thoughts turned to food, one of her other passions, and she went through several drafts until she came up with a character she named Bolinho — Portuguese for cupcake.
Since then hundreds of Bolinhos have popped up on the walls of Belo Horizonte, and what started out as a hobby turned into a full-time job for the artist who now goes by Raquel Bolinho. Fashion label Elvira Matilde used Bolinho’s stylings on its 2014 summer collection (see below), and the line quickly sold out. Bolinho then launched her own online store offering all sorts of apparel and tchotchkes.
Bolinho has also done gallery shows and indoor and outdoor works on commission, and she’s pretty much a local celebrity: fans often recognize her on the street and Instagram her work. But Bolinho, who grew up in Vargem, Minas Gerais, before choosing the state capital as her home, definitely gives back to the community. Back in October she did this intervention to brighten up the pediatric wing of Governador Israel Pinheiro Hospital:
Not bad for someone who started out without any formal training. Bolinho majored in literature and used to teach Portuguese and English to pay the bills; not until her art career took off did she take art classes at Minas Gerais State University to perfect her technique, and her work grew noticeably more elaborate and colorful over the years.
Check out some of the pieces shared by Bolinho on Flickr: