CHAMBRE GRAPHIC: A conversation with Heitor Kimura
Heitor Kimura is a Brazilian visual designer and graphic artist. As a multifaceted creative, his field of practice ranges from branding to illustration and editorial publications. Today he is mastering in modern and contemporary philosophy at the State University of Londrina, in Paraná (Brazil).
A tribute to Akira Kurosawa, Risograph printed fanzine, 2018 | © Heitor Kimura
Chambre Fluide: Hello Heitor! Let’s start talking about your story. How did you find out the creative field was a good path to express yourself? Heitor Kimura: Hello! Well, I always had an affinity for “creating things” in general. But I decided that I was going to enter a college in the arts/design field when I was 20. At the beginning I was more focused on illustration and drawing, but along this short trajectory I got to know new people, new ways of working, new references and so I expanded my vision, and I hope to continue in this process. I have always been open to experimentation and discovery. My works from the last few years, for example, those of publications/zines and those of manual collage with embroidery on paper are things I started to do while learning them, they were not things that I mastered since I was young. At the beginning, as an illustrator, I had a common concern of wanting to find my own style or “language” by which people could recognize my work; but over time I went on the opposite path, maintaining an openness to experimentation that dispensed with the need for an easily recognizable language. In that sense, I'm very open, and I think my work ends up translating that.
Amor, Analogue collage | © Heitor Kimura
CF: In your works, you often use collage technique. That’s pretty fascinating. What do you like the most about this practice? Do you have a precise idea of what the composition will be or do you let casualty have a significant role in the creative process? HK: Manual (or analogue) collage is a recent process in my work. And, to be fair, even at school as children, we experience collage, and in that sense it is a very simple (and democratic) technique. I recommend that everyone try it. Regarding the compositions, I would say that is the most difficult part. Because the techniques themselves — not only of collage — are things that we learn by dedicating time and effort, but the aesthetic sense to compose is something that we are always improving, by “training” our eyes, from the observation of new references... There’s no “end” in this kind of knowledge. In the case of collages, some I already imagine immediately after seeing the image in a book or magazine, it is as if it already “called forth” some composition. But some I need to test, experiment with shapes and their relationships for a long time until I get the "this is it!" feeling. So I work in different ways, some processes are very fast and others are much more carefully and slowly thought out.
Figura Formula, Analogue collage with embroidery on paper | © Heitor Kimura
Untitled study, Analogue collage | © Heitor Kimura
CF: We are particularly charmed by your Zines, Dämmerung especially. Can you tell us about the content of this project? What’s the connection between the concept of Dämmerung and the philosophy-inspired images you have created? HK: I'm glad you liked it, because when I started doing zines it was much more about a search and personal experiments than trying to reach an audience; I didn't expect them to be accepted as they were. This Dämmerung project, together with Anathema are fanzines printed in risography with images that I thought from my readings in philosophy. But that does not mean that these images "represent" concepts, that they mean something that should be interpreted, or even that you need to know philosophy to appreciate them.
Dämmerung, Risograph printed fanzine, 2016 | © Heitor Kimura
HK: To answer your question about how this connection works for me, I will give some examples. Dämmerung is the German word for "twilight", taken from Nietzsche's book "Götzen Dämmerung", the "Twilight of the Idols". That's why this image on the cover is like a kind of sun rising or setting. The others are images that I put below, for example, on the left, we have the French philosopher Albert Camus, author of “The Stranger” and the “Myth of Sisyphus”. This image in the background is an abstraction of the work of sisyphus, of pushing the stone to the top of the mountain. Next to it we have Jean-Paul Sartre, author of “The Being and the Nothing”, and there I used some photos in which he is in the desert, an allusion to “nothing”.
Left: Albert Camus, Myth of Sisyphus | Right: Jean-Paul Sartre, The Being and the Nothing Images from: Dämmerung, Risograph printed fanzine, 2016 | © Heitor Kimura
HK: In this other pair of images, we have on the right the French René Descartes with a branching design on top; this drawing refers to his conception of knowledge that is arborescent, there is an order and a hierarchy, metaphysics as the root, physics as the main trunk and the other sciences as minor branches. On the left we have one of the great opponents of this view, which is the other Frenchman Gilles Deleuze. The graphic form there is more abstract and free, less organized, with lines crossing and overlapping, dismantling the idea of hierarchy. It is what Deleuze (with Félix Guattari) called Rhizome, using a notion of biology. These are underground stems like grass or ginger, where there is no clear center from which everything starts, and this reflects his conception of knowledge, to speak in a simplistic way.
Left: Gilles Deleuze, Multiplicité Rihzomatique | Right: René Descartes, Arborescence Autoritaire Images from: Dämmerung, Risograph printed fanzine, 2016 | © Heitor Kimura
HK: So, although there is a thought that led me to create the image, I don't think that the image should translate this or mean it to anyone who sees it. The meaning they have for me is not the same as what I want the observer to grasp. That is why I do not think that they are representative or that they will come to inform anything, even though I consider them paradoxically “philosophical”. In a nutshell, in my view there is no hidden “background” or “foundation” behind these figures, the image is all there, and it is what it is.
CF: You are a philosophy lover. Is there a thinker or movement you find more inspiring than others? What do you appreciate the most about his/her/their thoughts? HK: I fell in love with philosophy, but it was a late “encounter”. I took it seriously and immersed myself in this world right after my graduation in multimedia arts (around 2014). Until then philosophy was a subject that did not interest me, it seemed boring or even too reflective, not "practical". These are prejudices that many people have, and I was like that. In the beginning I was enchanted by everything, I was interested in everything I was learning about philosophy, but, over time, it is natural that there is a certain selection. Today I am doing a master's degree in modern and contemporary philosophy at the State University of Londrina, in Paraná (southern Brazil), researching the dutch Benedictus de Spinoza and his interpretation by the french Gilles Deleuze. But Deleuze himself, for me, was a big “nuisance”, and still is. What he did in philosophy combating Representation, Identity, Dialectics, is a movement very foreign to the design world, which is too dependent on these notions, although in another field of knowledge. Spinoza's case is a little different, it is as if I was taken by his thought, like a wind (others have already used this analogy), it was like rediscovering a force in the World and in Nature, looking at everything with a new lens, changing the way of thinking about our affections (joy, sadness, love, hope, desire, etc.), the very relationships between the body and the mind, the relationships between people, politics, and so on. Consequently, philosophy changes my way of seeing and making art and design. I started to think more about the image itself, or to see the image as a way of thinking. My work with zines and collages are great effects of that contact. So philosophy is something that is a very intimate part of my way of life, it makes me think, even though it is often like a “nuisance”. CF: As a visual designer and graphic artist, you deal with a lot of different work areas, from brand design to editorial illustration and independent publications. Do you have a favourite field of practice? Which project of yours did you enjoy developing the most?
HK: This is one of the things that most enchanted me about design, not having a monotony. Professionally, I had the great privilege of working in the brazilian design studio called Pianofuzz, which unfortunately no longer exists, but that's where I learned a lot, I did a lot of cool projects and great friends too. My contact with philosophy took place during that time that I was there, so it was a great transformative phase, in many ways in my life. Although I started my career focusing on illustration, what I like most about design is brand design and editorial design. But if it is to say what works I liked to do more, those are certainly the autoral ones. The most important project for me, and I also think it is one of the best I've done, is my last zine, which is a tribute to the japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
Images from: A tribute to Akira Kurosawa, Risograph printed fanzine, 2018 | © Heitor Kimura
HK: I published this project when it was 20 years since his death, in 2018. I decided to watch all of his films that I found, and think of images and compositions from scenes and clippings from the films. It was a long work of research, getting to know his work more seriously, and thinking about it visually, and how to express it in a printed project. I have also enjoyed working with collages, also using embroidery on paper. Despite being more authorial, and even selling an “original” from time to time, it is possible to bring this style to “commercial” projects, such as the recent music covers that I have made for the recently released music label Words Not Enough, from Brazil.
Quite Like You, Valvodinos EP. Cover by Heitor Kimura © | Released by Words Not Enough Records.
Truly Enchant EP, by Awka and Edu Schwartz. Cover by Heitor Kimura © | Released by Words Not Enough Records
I think my “trajectory” is mostly about searching, researching and a lot of work; even my autoral works are not things that I do as “fun”. I would say that I don't take myself very seriously as a person (people like that get very boring), but I take my searches in these fields of arts, philosophy and design very seriously, as they are my great passions. To conclude, Gilles Deleuze once said, in a lecture on cinema, a phrase that struck me and seems very correct when I think about my work: “a creator does not work for pleasure, but for necessity”.
You can find more about Heitor Kimura's work here