Art

Mosaic Man

Athens based visual artist Charis Tsevis makes art on his computer out of a million little pieces.

Interview by Lora Wiley - lora@citizenbrooklyn.com Art by Charis Tsevis
FILE: SelfPromotion_Basketball.jpg TITLE: Basketball USA CLIENT: Self initiated project COUNTRY: Worldwide KIND: Advertising illustration YEAR: 2014 DESCRIPTION: Advertising Illustration used on my studios ads on Luerzer's Archive magazine.

FILE: SelfPromotion_Basketball.jpg
TITLE: Basketball USA
CLIENT: Self initiated project
COUNTRY: Worldwide
KIND: Advertising illustration
YEAR: 2014
DESCRIPTION: Advertising Illustration used on my studios ads on Luerzer’s Archive magazine.

Citizen Brooklyn: From the Lion to Coco Chanel, your wired images/illustrations were mostly or all commissioned by clients. If you were to create one of your choosing, rather than a client, what would it be?

I am lucky enough to receive very interesting proposals for portraits from my clients. But I also like to find the time to dedicate to self developed projects. Athletes, creatives, artists, politicians, entrepreneurs. I like the positivity of people and I like to find ways to express it. I also love these portraits that open a new chapter of study for me. People attached to a specific period of history. From musicians of Jamaica, that took a big part of my time last year, to athletes that defined an era, like Steve Prefontaine or Haile Gebrselassie.

What I might do next is a series of completely unknown people.

FILE: MotherJones_WeCanCodeIt TITLE: Yes We Can Code It CLIENT: Mother Jones COUNTRY: USA KIND: Editorial Illustration YEAR: 2014 DESCRIPTION: A mosaic portrait of Rosie the Riveter made out of code. Created by Charis Tsevis for an article on Mother Jones magazine about diversity and sexism in the IT world.

FILE: MotherJones_WeCanCodeIt
TITLE: Yes We Can Code It
CLIENT: Mother Jones
COUNTRY: USA
KIND: Editorial Illustration
YEAR: 2014
DESCRIPTION: A mosaic portrait of Rosie the Riveter made out of code. Created by Charis Tsevis for an article on Mother Jones magazine about diversity and sexism in the IT world.

CBK: You’ve said your illustrations were made with “custom developed scripts, hacks and lots of love, using my Mac, Studio Artist, the Adobe Creative Suite and good reggae music.” Can you give a more detailed description of your creative process?

Technology plays a huge role in my work. But I am not just attached to one solution or one program. I have been creating mosaics for more than 20 years now and I always enjoying experimenting with new tools. But what excites me more than technology is the art and science of perception and communication. I try to incorporate principles of gestalt psychology to my technology. But I am not a good programmer. I am mostly an artist who messes with software as much as he can.

FILE: TVGuide_HughLaurie TITLE: Hugh Laurie: Doctor House of Pills CLIENT: TV Guide COUNTRY: USA KIND: Cover illustration YEAR: 2012 DESCRIPTION: Mosaic portrait of Hugh Laurie (Dr.House) for the cover of TV GUIDE magazine.

FILE: TVGuide_HughLaurie
TITLE: Hugh Laurie: Doctor House of Pills
CLIENT: TV Guide
COUNTRY: USA
KIND: Cover illustration
YEAR: 2012
DESCRIPTION: Mosaic portrait of Hugh Laurie (Dr.House) for the cover of TV GUIDE magazine.

CBK: You have studied in Athens and Milan and returned to Athens. How has this country hopping influenced your work?

I love traveling and I have travelled a lot. The foundations of my work are based on the Greco-Roman classic history but ethnic cultures are the main source of inspiration for me. From South Africa to Norway and from China to California every culture that has deep roots is a world of inspiration for me.

CBK: As a professor of Editorial Design and Typography, what is the most important lesson you hope your students take away from your teaching?

The most important lesson is of course seeking for knowledge. Which is of course philosophical, not technical. Students have to first learn how to learn. Then they have to understand how to evaluate knowledge. How to be able to explore and then keep what’s valuable. Mostly they need to understand how to keep their egos at a base so they can be open and free to learn.

FILE: Experimental_AfricanGirl. TITLE: African Girl CLIENT: Personal Project COUNTRY: Greece KIND: Experimental illustration YEAR: 2013 DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental mosaics illustrations on the subject of African beauty.

FILE: Experimental_AfricanGirl.
TITLE: African Girl
CLIENT: Personal Project
COUNTRY: Greece
KIND: Experimental illustration
YEAR: 2013
DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental mosaics illustrations on the subject of African beauty.

CBK: You are also well known for creating mosaic portraits made out of icons significant and specific to each portrait. If you were to create one for a self portrait, what would your icons be?

Self portrait and self promotion is probably the most challenging of all topics. I am not so interested in this topic right now. But if I had to do it I would probably use very personal imagery. Like places I love and moments I lived.

FILE: Experimental_L2012_Basket and Runner. TITLE: London 2012 series CLIENT: Personal project COUNTRY: Greece KIND: Experimental illustration YEAR: 2012 DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental typographical mosaics. Created during the London 2012 Olympics as a self initiated project

FILE: Experimental_L2012_Basket and Runner.
TITLE: London 2012 series
CLIENT: Personal project
COUNTRY: Greece
KIND: Experimental illustration
YEAR: 2012
DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental typographical mosaics. Created during the London 2012 Olympics as a self initiated project

CBK: On average, how long does it take you to do an illustration? Did the wired ones take longer?

You are totally right about the wired ones. They take me hours and hours of work. Generally I could finish an illustration in about a week of work. I am investing a lot of time on every piece. But not only in a specific illustration. I am investing time on experimenting on solutions, technologies and different communication and artistic problems. Then I am using the outcome of these experimentations in my work.

I am also enjoying the study of every artwork. I love to work many hours everyday but I also like to have time to reevaluate my work. To sleep on it and examine it again the next day. And then again. I believe time is the most precious thing in life. So if you invest your time on an art piece people will feel this value.

FILE: Reggae_Lion.jpg TITLE: The Conquering Lion CLIENT: The Reggae Hall of Fame COUNTRY: Jamaica KIND: Advertising illustration YEAR: 2013 DESCRIPTION: Illustration to promote the activities of "The Reggae Hall of Fame Foundation".

FILE: Reggae_Lion.jpg
TITLE: The Conquering Lion
CLIENT: The Reggae Hall of Fame
COUNTRY: Jamaica
KIND: Advertising illustration
YEAR: 2013
DESCRIPTION: Illustration to promote the activities of “The Reggae Hall of Fame Foundation”.

CBK: The wired illustrations are a departure from your mosaic creations. Did making them (and the positive reaction to them) inspire you to step outside the mosaic medium more often in the future?

Sure. But generally I am not doing just mosaics. I loved what mosaics taught me about visual art because since every single image is a mosaic (a sum of elements) all knowledge from mosaics could be used in numerous applications. But I love to explore a lot of different directions in art.

CBK: How do believe visual design has evolved over the last 5 years and where do you see it heading in the future?

I see design as something living that continues to evolve through the ages. I am not so attached on current trends. I like to live them and understand them but I believe design is the way we communicate visually and not only. So I don’t see a lot of difference not only the last 5 years but also the last 5 decades or 5 centuries. It’s always the same principles that define design.

FILE: SelfPromotion_Basketball2 TITLE: The heat is on! CLIENT: Personal project COUNTRY: Greece KIND: Experimental illustration YEAR: 2013 DESCRIPTION: Advertising Illustration used on my studios ads on Luerzer's Archive magazine.

FILE: SelfPromotion_Basketball2
TITLE: The heat is on!
CLIENT: Personal project
COUNTRY: Greece
KIND: Experimental illustration
YEAR: 2013
DESCRIPTION: Advertising Illustration used on my studios ads on Luerzer’s Archive magazine.

CBK: Which piece are you most proud of and why? Most meaningful and why? Which one looking back now would you do differently?

I love all my art works and I am proud of all of them. Probably more when I have reached a specific goal that I have set. For instance finding a solution on a specific technical or artistic problem. I am very proud of my set of avatars for Flickr because I had to scale down the neo-futuristic approach to the tiny size of an icon and that was really challenging.

I am also proud of my work for Gatorade because I had to create a series of artworks inspired by the contemporary latino culture and try to make this culture international. It was a really exciting study and work. I have felt proud when I have so much positive feedback from Mexicans or Colombian colleagues and friends.

FILE: Experimental_L2012_Basket and Runner. TITLE: London 2012 series CLIENT: Personal project COUNTRY: Greece KIND: Experimental illustration YEAR: 2012 DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental typographical mosaics. Created during the London 2012 Olympics as a self initiated project

FILE: Experimental_L2012_Basket and Runner.
TITLE: London 2012 series
CLIENT: Personal project
COUNTRY: Greece
KIND: Experimental illustration
YEAR: 2012
DESCRIPTION: A series of experimental typographical mosaics. Created during the London 2012 Olympics as a self initiated project

CBK: Do you work in any other art medium sans computer?

I did a lot in the past. I belong to that generation of designers that aren’t born with computers. I used to draw and paint a lot for many many years. But I have dedicated the last years of my life to technology and machine art. I love the medium and the collaboration with of a “smart” tool. Not only the Mac but also other machines like cameras, scanners, faxes etc.

FILE: HeadAndShoulders_WorldCup2014.jpg TITLE: Head & Shoulders for World Cup 2014 CLIENT: Procter & Gamble COUNTRY: Worldwide KIND: Packaging illustrations YEAR: 2014 DESCRIPTION: Illustrations of Latin America's best footballers for the limited edition collectable packaging of H&S shampoo.

FILE: HeadAndShoulders_WorldCup2014.jpg
TITLE: Head & Shoulders for World Cup 2014
CLIENT: Procter & Gamble
COUNTRY: Worldwide
KIND: Packaging illustrations
YEAR: 2014
DESCRIPTION: Illustrations of Latin America’s best footballers for the limited edition collectable packaging of H&S shampoo.

CBK: Some of your most well known works are your portraits of Steve Jobs. You’ve said he was a huge inspiration for you. Is there anyone in today’s landscape you believes measures up to him or similarly inspires you?

One of the quotes that I don’t believe is  “nobody is irreplaceable”. I believe that for some people and for our limited life some people are irreplaceable. I was following Steve Jobs since the early 80s. He was a source of inspiration and a point of reference for 30 years. For a lifetime this is a huge number. I don’t know if anyone else could play the same role on a personal level. But of course I am always open and I am always admiring people.

 

See more of Charis Tsevis’ work at:

Website: http://www.tsevis.com
More detailed resume: http://www.tsevis.com/965/about
Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tsevis
High Res files: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsevis
Twitter: @tsevis

One Response to “Mosaic Man”

  1. Charis Tsevis says:

    Thanks a lot for the interview, Ira and CBK. Friendly regards.