Designer enthusiast, illustrator, teacher, writer and a great networking and supporting spirit, Charis Tsevis has a lot to be proud for! I admit that I’ve been waiting for this interview with great anticipation! Here is what he shares with us:

Hello Chari! I’m very glad to have you here! We met online some years back in VCDC (Visual Communication Designer’s Club). Since you are one of the forum’s founding members, would you like to share a few info about the whole project? {how did it start / evolve / future plans etc}

Hi Afroditi. Glad to find you here in your new adventure. I wish you all the best for it. Yeah I remember the VCDC days. It was a project that I am really proud of being a part of. It was a simple and natural concept that tried to create a warm community of creative people. It started when several designers from Greece who met online and decided that there is no need to wait for others to do what they wanted. What we wanted wasn't exactly known, but all of us were feeling that we wanted something - like a common platform to communicate, to collaborate, to share ideas, knowledge and to form a real community for Greek creatives.

The best thing in this initiative was that there were very different people involved. Designers from almost any level. In VCDC there was space for students and teachers, employees and employers, even for unemployed designers or amateurs. The best thing of that era was the warm community that was formed online and offline. People started to meet, to collaborate, to socialize, to learn to have fun. I decided to distance myself from VCDC when the democratic experiment we were trying wasn't going too well. I also became more involved in other projects which limited my time available. I am still a member and occasionally enjoy to read the forum or joining the parties.

Your mosaic illustrations are very original and visually attractive. As a matter of fact you’ve portrayed various famous people such as: Barrack Obama, Steve Jobs, Michael Phelps and recently Marc Zuckerberg for numerous editorials and magazine covers! Would you share some info on the technique and overall concept?

Thanks for the kind comments. Mosaics have been around for centuries. I always had this passion for images of highly complex systems and mosaics are such systems. I have probably contributed some ideas to the topic, mostly by experimenting on the grid systems, by being more corrageous with the use of varied sizes and other parameters.

The basic concept is that every image is a mosaic. Everything our eyes are seeing is a mosaic of different stimuli. What an artist is doing is collecting the different elements and arrange them in a way to communicate specific messages. There are some different architectural approaches in the creation of the image, there are many aspects that need the designers' attention, such as color, form etc, but the bottom line is the message.

You know from the VCDC years that I am passionate about Gestalt psychology. So the main rule of Gestalt is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The challenge of every mosaic is just this. To create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes not. For example I am really happy with my Steve Jobs and Barack Obama mosaics. I think they have found a way to talk about the personality of the people and give my personal view on them.
Can you describe your average working day?

I am not sure there is such thing as an average working day. I am having very different days with very different faces. There is a lot of music, a lot of staying in the middle of many Macs, a lot of coffee and tea and some pizza.

My working day has more than 12 hrs of work and sometimes last more than 1 day and night. But I wouldn't exchange the designer's worklife for anything else.
You also design typefaces as a member of the Parachute Fonts circle of type designers. How would you describe the procedure of creating fonts and what are the vital points one has to have in mind?

I have designed more than 10 typefaces but I am not considering my self a typedesigner because I am not doing it very often. Creating typefaces is a work that I have always admired and I wanted to try my self with it. It's a very nice procedure. Can be really long - or quicker - but to me it has always been something serious that I wasn't absolutely sure I could do. I was always feeling very responsible for my typefaces. Maybe because designing typefaces is something like writing a symphony when creating an illustration is like writing a song. Typefaces are also a work of yours created to be used by others and having its own life. It's like giving birth to a child and trying to educate it. Then the child is going to take its own path.
As a design professor you get surrounded by students involved in the creative field. What is your opinion and impression in general concerning the evolution of graphic design during the last years and what is the latest ‘trend’ in the inner circles of young designers?

Teaching is a gift that you can give to your self. It keeps you young, it helps you experiment, it keeps your eyes open to the fresh part of the society.

Trends are always hot in the circles of young designers because they live with more passion in their era. I am trying to keep them enthusiastic and passionate about their generation but I am trying to make them understand that trends come and go. They are needed to any society because they renew it but as professional designers they will have to develop the skills to analyze them, to use them for a purpose and of course to create or destroy them.

What is the latest one? The mainstream rediscovered the hand painted and hand drawn graphic design lately. The underground is experimenting with a revival of the early 80's or with the ethnic styles of what we once were calling "third world".

But I think that there is space for personal trends. For personal choices that are going to be followed or not by others but they would be sincere and meaningful.

Where do you seek inspiration from and who are your favorite designers/illustrators?

Inspiration could be found everywhere. But Everywhere! From other forms of art like music, literature, cooking, biology or statistics. Traveling is also very helpful. Being there, touching the actual experience is so educational and inspirational. I also like to have the "travel" approach with my studies. I like to take a specific historic era in a specific geographic area and try to explore it through books, online sources or actual visits.
Which was your latest most exciting project and why?

I enjoyed a lot a work I have done recently for Unilever in Dubai. We created a gigantic billboard advertisement (200 meters x 20 meters) based on a mosaic illustration. The whole collaboration was really cool because the LOWE team was sending me photos of the place and ideas and even if I have experimented with space graphics in the past, I have never created something so big.

[Copyright ©: Tsevis Visual Design, LOWE Dubai, Unilever Inc.]
It's going to be up and running in October and I cannot wait to go and see it live. And believe or not, one of the most exciting projects, for me is every new Steve Jobs' mosaic portrait someone asks me to do. I have created several new ones and in every one there is an new challenge. The latest, created for ALFA magazine in Brazil, tries to reflect the psychedelic period of Steve Jobs life. The trips in India or LSD and the early years in Apple.
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Thank you Chari for the interview! Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I remember meeting you back in the VCDC era and admiring your courage to go after a second carrier. That of an illustrator. You took so many steps since then that I have always enjoyed. I am seeing you taking a third carreer now with EyeCandies, that of a journalist. I just want to wish you luck in everything you do and encourage you to go after your dreams.

Thanks for the conversation.

LINKS: […]

- http://www.tsevis.com/