The Weeknd Took to Twitter to Find This Toronto Artist

FLARE chatted with Diego Navarro, the 22-year-old student behind the painting that caught the musician's eye

A colourful painting of The Weeknd by Diego Navarro

(Photo: Peter Villari)

Canadian singer The Weeknd turned to his 5.2 million Twitter followers on Thursday night to help him solve a mystery: who is the artist behind a poster-sized painting of him?

The Twitter account, “The Weeknd Art,” tweeted a photo of a large painting depicting The Weeknd and his Starboy Legend of the Fall Tour—the musician’s international tour that kicked off in February and ends in August at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival. Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. The Weeknd, replied to the fan account’s tweet, asking “who made this?”

Pretty soon, Twitter lit up with responses telling the musician that the man behind the work is Toronto-based artist Diego Navarro. Navarro is a 22-year-old student finishing his degree in graphic design and advertisement at George Brown College in Toronto, who loves to paint in his spare time. FLARE chatted with Navarro about the exciting hunt, and what’s happening with him and The Weeknd.

How did you find out that The Weeknd wanted to find you?

Someone messaged me on Instagram—some random stranger—and the message said, “OMG OMG.” I looked at the post she sent me, and it was a screenshot of The Weeknd [on Twitter] asking who made the painting. I didn’t think it was real. I looked at it and I saw the [Twitter verification] check mark, and I called my girlfriend and I said, “Oh my god! I think The Weeknd wants to know who made the painting.” It was crazy; I’m still shocked.

What did you do then?

I messaged [The Weeknd] back saying I’d love to get in touch with you; it’s either I’m keeping [the painting] or it’s for you. It’s all up in the air, but I’m trying to see if we can arrange a meeting. Just the fact that he acknowledged it in the first place is enough for me. Someone of his stature, to appreciate something I did for him, was just great.

What’s the inspiration behind the painting?

When I heard Starboy, I became inspired by the album and all the videos he put out. I came up with my own interpretation of it, and tried to create something that would be interesting to him or anyone else who appreciates his music.

The Weeknd on stage posing in a black jacket and dark pants

(Photo: Getty)

How did “The Weeknd Art”—the Twitter account that shared your art—find your piece?

I tagged a few art pages on Instagram [where the photo was first shared]. I did get some feedback on [Instagram]—the painting did do well—and I did get some people showing interest in it. I think I posted that in May, and it wasn’t until last night that it randomly blew up. It was just out of the blue.

What do you hope comes out of this experience?

It would be great just to put my career on this path. It’s something I’m really passionate about; I do really enjoy painting and being able to do it. It’s a dream for me, so the fact that it even happened at all—for people to see value in my work—is great. If I can go on and have people respect my stuff and have this kind of recognition…I can’t even express [my feelings] right now.

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