Loving the challenge of a limited color palette, Sao Paolo based artist, Zansky, compliments his mind-blowing illustrations with an experimental mindset. The well-executed marriage of these two elements has earned the attention of clients like Canson, Fiat, Microsoft and Puma. And if music isn't blasting around his printing press, don't look for signs of foul-play too quick. Bets are he's running around the city with long-standing art collective, BASE-V, teaching workshops on experimental print methods. Upon experiencing Zansky's work, I would challenge anyone not to explore his talent further.
How'd you discover your knack for art?
I was in the 3rd grade when my teacher used a stupid method of "education". He forced us to copy the book. I decided to copy the illustrations too. I was crazier than that teacher! Haha. Of course, like all children, I had drawn before, but my classmates said it was my father who drew them! As a teenager, people encouraged me to draw more. I decided to study graphic design at a technical high school. It was there that I really got in contact with art and the techniques that I still use today.
Being an artist in Sao Paolo - what's it like?
In Brazil, it's the best place for an artist to be. Everything in the cultural scene happens here. But it isn't easy because it's one of the most expensive cities in the world. To buy art supplies, we'll spend a small fortune and there's very few places to show our work. But looking on the good side, we need to be more creative to overcome those challenges.
How did you get involved with your art collective, BASE-V?
When I was studying visual arts at UNESP in Sao Paolo, I knew people there who thought similarly about graphic experimentation. Those guys formed the collective one year before I became a member. That was in 2003. We believed that, as a collective, we wouldn't showcase individualities. Everything we created was signed as BASE-V.
Twelve years later, BASE-V is still kickin.
Yes! But it's very different now. The number of members has reduced over the years. It's only me, Danilo Oliveira and David Magila. We work more on painting murals and giving workshops.
All three of you have your own portfolios also. Why did the collective start acknowledging individual work?
After university, we rented a studio. It worked pretty good for a time, but we were moving towards the commercial side - too much advertisement. That was never our objective. So, we decided to get back to the artistic side and we closed the space. We do commercial work now as individuals.
How has your time in a collective contributed to your growth as an artist?
Working in a collective that excludes our individualities is a pretty good exercise in detachment. You do work and someone else can cover it up with other things. It's like a visual discussion of ideas and aesthetics. Because of this, I think I became more critical, but relaxed and trustful with my individual work. Nobody thinks he or she is the master of universe of creativity. Hahaha. We teach this in our experimental drawing workshops.
What kind of workshops are you teaching?
We teach experimental screenprinting using techniques without a computer and photosensitive emulsion. Stencils, stamps, posters and publications.
You've worked some big clients - Canson, Microsoft and Fiat to name a few. What's been the most challenging experience with a client of that size?
You know, clients don't challenge me. Not in my opinion. They ask for something similar to what you've done before. The challenge comes from ourselves - trying to do something fresh and new. So, when there's enough time, I learned to try something that I haven't done before.
What motivates your color choices and the intensity of your aesthetic?
Regarding color, if I used blacks and greys, I think people would call my work gothic. Hahaha. I just love color combinations and overprints really fascinate me. For me there's great magic in multiplying the number of colors using just a few colors.
Talking about all the other elements - skulls, psychadelic, beams, third eyes, motion - I just do what I want to do when I think of something unusual. You know, it's possible to draw or paint whatever you want because that "white" space in front of you will accept any "reality. Any reality that arises in the form of chaos is just a big soup of elements. It's a soup of multiple realities.
What's the least number of colors you've used to build a color palette from?
I often work between 2 and 3 colors, plus the overprints. The maximum I've worked was 6 -7 colors. But the least number of colors I've used was my last piece. It's a cover for the german magazine Novum. It was only two colors - using only cyan and magenta - and I didn't mix colors!! But there's a reason - the idea was to print on 3 hues of yellow paper.
It seems like you've been getting into more printing projects lately.
Since last year, I've started printing my own publications - some in collaboration with writers. This year, I'm using my "know how" in experimental screenprinting to work on more visual publications. I'm the editor of my publications in the project Editions de Zaster. Another one is called Marfim Eloquente (Eloquent Ivory), a psychadelic "novel". It was done with screenprinting using the direct process method with screen filler. I also work with other printing methods by myself like rubber stamps and stencils.
You teach your students (in BASE-V workshops) to be mindful of experimentation in the creative process. Who or what influences your process?
I like a lot of vintage graphics, popular graphics, gigposters. Also people like Toshio Saeki, Tadanori Yokoo, Keichii Tanaami and David Lynch. Another very important thing to me is music! Not a specific genre. I'm always surrounded by music - jazz, free jazz, soul, deep funk, afrobeat, psycho and rockabilly, psychadelic rock, thrash metal. Some crazy people like Frank Zappa and Tom Ze too.
A quick round of finish the sentence.
Last meal before a comet hits Earth? Really?!! Are you hungry with this notice?
I'll never step on a nail using a cardboard box helmet again.
But I will definitely drink Arabian lemonade again.
When I found out the Olympics were coming to Brazil, I thought OHHH MANNN! We got it! For good or for bad.
If I could make any piece of artwork come to life, I'd love to see Tlon, Unbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges.
The secret to living outside the lines is running to the shapes.
Any closing words to those looking to make art a full-time gig?
Before the full-time gig you need to work on personal projects alongside your regular work. Rarely will a client ask you to do something different than what they've seen you do. So, you'll only do new things if you give yourself challenges. By experimenting in your personal projects, you'll make your personal work bigger than your regular job.
All images courtesy of artist.
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