What happens to a young boy who is uninterested in schoolwork, and spends his time reading magazines, sniffing fresh computer paper, and dreaming about microcosms? For Charis Tsevis, it developed into a passion that allowed him to create award-winning work used in magazines, advertisements, and political campaigns all over the globe. My personal favorite is a piece he designed for 4pi publication RAM in Athens, Greece–depicting a businessman so interconnected to the media, that he is virtually transformed into the wires of his devices.
I had a chance to catch up with Charis about his work and inspiration. This is what he had to say:
RS: Where are you from originally? CT: I’ve was born and raised in Athens. I lived in Milan for a while too when I was studying. I’ve travelled a lot but always seem to return to my country. I love the weather and the sea.
RS: How did you develop the concept for these “media mosaics”? CT: I always loved complexity and have been fascinated by microcosms and other chaotic biological systems. I love the continuous zooming in and out that you can do and discovering new things and new emotions along the way. Back in the day, in other words in 1995, I wanted to find a way to create my own microcosms. Mosaics have become one expression of this will.
RS: What program do you use to create your work? CT: I find myself spending a lot if time with Studio Artist, a so called graphic synthesizer developed by a Hawaiian programmer named Joe Dalton. Joe was one of the earliest (or maybe the first) programmers who created a musical synthesizer for the Mac. He tried to bring what he learned from the world of music into the visual world. Like with a music synthesizer, the user of Studio Artist can develop his own sounds, his own synthetic instruments, and produces results with them.
RS: How did you get started, did you study art in school? Where? Was computer art always your primary medium? CT: I started really young – I cannot explain why, but since I was 5 I was in love with printed paper. I loved smelling the inks and I enjoyed reading books and magazines. People used to tell me I had talent in drawing and that was good for a boy who was lazy at school. But it was art that made me fall in love with studying. While I was at College studying design, I discovered a geek part of me wanting to dive into knowledge and study every possible subject. I realized that through art, everything was connected and there was no such thing as boring knowledge.
I started studying and working for the design industry in the late 80’s. This is just before the first computers were around so everything was very manual. This period actually really helped me because I have an understanding of the analog concepts that are now virtually represented in computers.
RS: What has your career highlight been so far? CT: If I had to choose only one I would choose the work I did during the Barack Obama 08 campaign. It was something I initiated because I believed in it and that transformed into something bigger. I am so happy that the Democrats Abroad Greece and the Barack Obama 08 Greece wanted me to help them with the campaign designs and I am really proud that my work has been featured in the “Designing Obama” book – published by Scott Thomas, the design director of Barack Obama 08 campaign.
Money wise that work was almost zero. But the emotions I have lived during that period are priceless.
In terms of commercial work I have had some wonderful moments collaborating with many great creative teams from around the world. I am really proud of the campaigns we have developed with Saatchi LA team for Toyota or LOWE Dubai for Unilever. I have been lucky enough to win an Epica Award for an IKEA campaign in Sweden and a European Design award for Banco Bradesco from Brazil. I’ve also enjoyed working for media like TIME, Wired or Sports Illustrated. Generally speaking, work has given me some great moments.