José Luis Vílchez was born in 1981 in Leon, Nicaragua. He migrated to Miami in 1998, where he ran an embroidery and screen-printing business for ten years. After ten years in Miami, he decided to change his life by leaving everything behind and fulfilling his lifelong dream of traveling the world.
Vílchez left Miami with little money and an ambition to travel the world. For two and a half years he traveled throughout Europe, Asia, North and Central America, and Africa. To finance his travels, he played the saxophone in the streets and made paintings which he sold along the way.
After two and a half years on the road, Vílchez returned to the United States to pursue an education in the fine arts. He started his college career at age 28 and graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his time at SAIC, he studied and experimented with many mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and printmaking.
After graduating from SAIC, Vílchez began a year of travel funded only by the $3000 sale of his BFA painting. He regarded the journey as an art practice, using photography to document specific subjects with the intention of using the new material for future exhibitions. By the end of his last trip, Vilchez had visited a total of seventy countries in four continents.
Upon completing his year of travel in May 2016, Vílchez moved to Guangzhou, China to start the Lido Art Center with fellow SAIC alum, Daisy Li. His work has been showcased in galleries throughout Guangzhou, including a collaborative exhibition with Mariana Lozano featuring both artists’ photography from around the world. Vílchez currently lives in Guangzhou, where he continues developing the Lido Art Center and building his body of work.