My Creative DNA
February 22, 2017
Yomar Augusto is a New York City-based typographic artist and graphic designer raised in Rio de Janeiro. He teaches in the summer intensive SVATypeLab: Theory and Practice.
SVA SUMMER RESIDENCY PROGRAMS: Tell us about where you are from. How has it shaped or changed your art practice?
YO: Hi, I am Yomar, a.k.a. "Yo"
I was born in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, but my family moved to Rio de Janeiro when I was 5 years old. I grew up surrounded by ocean, mountains and forest. Rio de Janeiro is an amazing place for a creative person; it's a powerful hub for music, art, food, colors and the strange contrasts of life. The contrast between poverty and wealth can be overwhelming; the possibility to navigate through those contrasts can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. I always feel a drive and a desire to explore and see the world and the possibilities beyond my backyard. The choices I made and opportunities abroad took me down an (un)expected path between Europe, United States and Brazil.
SVA: Tell us about your background. How did you get to be interested in art?
YO: My family always has been the most important creative factor in my life. My mom, Maristella Elmor, is a gifted fashion designer and an embroidery artist, and my sister, Rosa Guimaraes is one of the most affluent art book binders in Brazil. Renato Alarcao, my dear brother-in-law, is one of the most talented artists I’ve met in my life. He is an alumni of the MFA in Illustration at SVA. My aunt Cristina is a fine artist, my cousin Gio lives in Prague in the Czech Republic doing puppets and masks for theaters and streets festivals around Europe, and I have another cousin, Nicolau who is a gifted photographer. I just carry the creative DNA of my family! Our family dinners are like exhibition openings. My philosophy is to keep studying and improving my design/mind/art process as much as I can. Basically, that's who I am.
SVA: Is there a local art scene where you live? Are you a part of a local community? Please tell us about it.
YO: Since the beginning of 2016 I am based in San Diego, Southern California, where I am currently trying to merge a simpler life style with my creative practice. San Diego is an interesting city, between Mexico and Los Angeles; the city feels a bit like a "forgotten diamond" among the Californian cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. But there is a strong creative scene here and things are changing fast; the place is blooming and I feel lucky to be here and confident enough to say that I am here to stay.
SVA: How has your experience in NYC and the Residency program shaped the future of your practice and community back home?
YO: My relationship with NYC is very deep. I lived there twice. In 2001 and between 2013-2016. In 2001 I was a very poor designer, fresh from the art academy and it was my first real experience abroad, my English was very bad and everything seemed to be so overwhelming. I was trying to show my work to as many designers as I could and I somehow managed to book 30 interviews in 2 months only using pay phones and a Yahoo e-mail account. I didn’t have a mobile phone, website or a laptop and it was an amazing and super raw experience. I was writing my resumés by hand.
Unfortunately I was downtown when the Twin Towers came down. They collapsed in front of me when I was doing an internship at Mucca Design, at the intersection of Church and Lispenard St. It was a life changing experience; I quit my internship on September 12th and moved back to Rio. My time in NYC was interrupted.
YO: Amazingly, the first place I stopped after the attacks was SVA, at 21st street. I was already walking from downtown and at the school I put myself together, got some water, went to the bathroom, cleaned my face and tried to set my coordinates to leave Manhattan. I didn’t believe what was actually happening around me at that moment. After that I started seeing art schools as protection barriers against the shit world around us.
After living almost for 9 years living in The Netherlands I returned to NYC for the second time, and by then I was way more “solid” as a person and as a professional. I spent 3 years working as a freelancer typography director and graphic designer for the major advertising agencies in the city and ran several personal projects during that time. Currently I’m writing a manual / memoir about my experiences as a creative freelancer in NYC.
SVA: Do you have a favorite place or site for inspiration where you live?
YO: I grew up on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, and in California I have finally found myself back in the water; surfing waves has been a magical experience.