About as far away from doldrums of redundant blah as you can get lies the wonderful world of Cisma, one of my very favorite websites. I go there for a breath of fresh air, and come away with a big smile on my face and a head buzzing with inspiration every time.

Cisma lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, works at www.lobo.cx , and is the creative mind behind www.cisma.com.br. I chose to interview him as the next link in the chainletter because I relate very much to what he is doing, and wanted a legitimate excuse to ask him a bunch of questions. So without further adieu...


James Paterson is internationally renowned for his work in Flash, and is also a pervert. He is a founding member of Half Empty. [james@presstube.com]
Cisma is a graff and flash artist living in Sao Paulo. He works at www.lobo.cx , and is the creative mind behind cisma.com.br.
Chainletter is a continuing series of profiles, artist to artist. After being interviewed, each artist in turn invites and interviews the next - so who knows where it'll go!
Half Empty is an international collective of artists, founded in 1998. Its form changes to suit the evolving Internet - this is us now.

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What does "Cisma" mean?

"Cisma" in Portuguese means schism, suspicion and strong conviction.

. . .

Where do you live?

I lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil all my life.

. . .

Do you notice that there is a certain look to contemporary Brazilian design?

There's no contemporary Brazilian design look. I don't think that is a considerable group of people here thinking together and looking like the same way.

. . .

How old were you when you first used a computer? How long have you been drawing?

When I was 12 I won a MSX in a children's drawing contest. I got the second place, the first one was a Disneyland trip. I liked more my prize.

I've always been drawing. I remember my mom proud of my drawings when I was child. Last year my mom confess me that were horrible, very very ugly, she lied because she want to keep me doing that.

. . .

You have a very interesting and unique sense of typography. Do you make complete fonts, or do you mostly construct only the letters needed for each piece?

I never did a complete font. Just complete words. I think it came from graffiti; letters are done just for write a name.

. . .

Your work has many of the hard edges and clean lines that I would attribute to graphic design, but is filled to with compassion and seductive narrative. It is as if you are drawing medical diagrams of human emotions. Are these images clear to you in your mind before you start working on them or are they more of a result of your process?

I work as designer, so I bring a lot of graphic solutions with me. I think this is me, anyway. I don't fight against this. Well, when I begin to draw, the whole image is not clear yet. I try to draw more freely I can. Then some images will appearing and the meaning of everything as well. I just stop when the meaning is complete for me.

. . .

Do you consider yourself an artist, or a designer? Is the distinction important to you?

I'm both, the things are always mixing each other, interfering. The distinction, I think is done by the proposal of each work. If is to try to solve graphic problems to someone it's design, if is try to solve your own life problems it's art.

. . .

Do you see your work fitting into the traditional fine art gallery environment? Also, do you think that the community of artists online (as you know it now) will find its way to the established gallery environment and flourish there?

I don't see my website on a art gallery, it's sounds strange... why a showing a website in a place? A website is not in everywhere? In every connected computer? I'm not against art galleries, I just think that this special type of work don't fits in there.

. . .

Graffiti has roots in rebellion and anti-establishment: people are writing words on public walls, and risking getting arrested to get their message/work out there. That says a lot about the politics of graffiti as an art form. Do you think that new media has developed its own set of politics that are relevant right now?

As graffiti, Internet is a media, a way to communicate. I always thought that graffiti and online art have a lot of aspects in common, for example:

  • cheap to do it
  • independent work
  • a lot of people will see it, it's for masses
  • who does it wants fame!
  • search for best exposure
  • if you don't get arrested, you can do anything, no rules.

In graffiti anonymity is important, avoid problems with police and keep yourwork away from pressure. Inspired by this I took off my email address fromCisma. I know I miss some good opportunity, but at the same time I don't loose time replying emails and could control more easily my ego.

. . .

It's my understanding that there is a huge difference between being well-off in brazil and being shit-faced poor. Is graffiti a part of the underclass there, or is it, like computers, available only to the wealthy?

You are right. It's a mistake to say that Internet is cheap to do it. I'm wrong about that. Graffiti is cheaper. Internet is only cheaper than doing a magazine or something like this.

. . .

Are there industries there that support graffiti in Sao Paulo, or is it still totally underground?

There's no support to graffiti here, "os gemeos" are the only guys that receive some kind of support from Colorgin, the main spray can manufacturer here.

In Brazil, there is a legitimate thing that still underground and industries never supported it, it's called "pixação" , some kind of Brazilian tag. Always illegal, ordinary people hate and lot of guys here still do it.

. . .

How legitimate is it to do web graphics? Are there a lot of companies who will see this work and appreciate it, offer jobs to young designers or is it also part of an underground?

If you show your work in internet a lot of people will try to contact you for doing something. The things you choose to do it is what keeps it underground or not.

. . .

Many design sites are the built-in media/propaganda engines of the online creative community. Do you think that these "news" sites are healthy and beneficial to the creative community, or do you think that they promote trends, cliques, and stagnation?

I think they are only specialized zines. If somebody just pay attention on this sites it's not Surfstation's fault. I think they just should see something else. Take a walk, maybe.

. . .

If you could work with any musician, who would it be?

Now, Bethoven.

. . .

If you could have a piece of art by anyone, who would it be by?

Robert Crumb. He's real.




Marty Spellerberg & JAMES PATERSON

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