'The View from the Top' - Jacinto Caetano's Interview

By Javier Melian, Chrom-Art co-founder

You might not know yet who Jacinto Caetano is but if you live in London, you've certainly seen his work. His designs are buzzing constantly across the city like red arrows carrying Londoners around in their daily ventures. Yes, the new Santander 'Boris bikes' artworks are a product of Caetano's frenetic imagination. 


I can't recall how long ago I know Jacinto, as we already had many friends in common and we frequently bumped into each other in the occasional due. He is an urbanite, cosmopolitan, work hard play even harder kind of person. He is extremely popular in the social circles, due to his magnetic personality, his look (he is big and always wears something neon) and his godlike ability of be everywhere that is hot ticket. Living with ADHD is obviously a blessing more than a curse for someone who's brain is a constant pouring of creative ideas.


Jacinto is also a man of opinion, a very well informed one, and whether you like it or not he will offer it to you. So when I first approached him asking for help and feedback on my initial home made Chrom-Art logo design, he told me it was shit basically. After this much needed reality check he came up with a very insightful research of the ethos, goals, and environment of Chrom-Art, and with a logo design that is so simple and powerful, and adaptable and at the same time, recognisable. 

The man's got an eye for trend anticipation and knows what ticks people. However populistic this may sound, his taste is far from commercial, but fringe and avant-garde.

Jacinto's engagement with the idea, and commitment to make it work continued by him becoming a co-founder. He is the responsible of our brand image, and I can proudly say we are constantly praised for it. Jacinto is now a dear friend, and I always look forward to our periodic evening meetings where I serve as a copilot at his desk, always after a beer or two, and I witness his precise and agile work in the computer.

Caetano's work is completely influenced by Pop culture. Simple and frenetic. Highlighted, shiny, bold, energetic. Futuristic, edgy and highly saturated. He is a multimedia artist, who creates with everything and anything he can get hold of, this being a digital camera, LED lights, or spray cans. 


Caetano's passion for the visual aspect of his environment started when he was a kid, obsessed with changing everything around him; he says "from moving round furniture in my bedroom to renewing the covers of text books. Basically, if it existed, I had to changed it". 

In 2002, Jacinto started studying graphic design in his natal Seville. By 2004 he had become Art Director in a new communication agency in Seville. After an impasse working for three airlines including Iberia, travelling around the world and even based in Saudi Arabia, Caetano returns to graphic design in 2009 and enrols two years later in a top design school in Barcelona called ELISAVA. "It was one of the best decisions of my life, as it enabled me to become involved in one of the most exciting and fulfilling projects I have ever embarked on: the building of a business in Florida" he tells us. It was when he realised that he wanted to dedicate his life to art, design, and travel.  



In 2013, Caetano joins the super successful advertising agency WCRS, that recently won 'Agency of the Year' at the Masters of Marketing Awards, and his professional prestige climbs to new levels, specially after his designs and concept feature the Santander bikes campaign. Highly recognisable all over London, the red 'Boris bikes' show very sleek silhouettes of the main landmarks in the capital. 

Your work is influenced by design for obvious reasons. Will you be breaking into new art forms and media?

Totally. The same way I follow trends or get influenced by other pieces, artists or designers when working under a briefing—for those who don't know, it's Advertising industry the one that pays my bills—, I try to innovate as much as I can when dedicating time to the artistic world. I always felt a special attraction to lights, to electronic stuff able to illuminate, to moving lights, to neon colours... I guess that's part of my attention deficit disorder. But that whole thing has made me feel very curious about the possibility of combining materials, applying light to surfaces, etcetera. I would say I want to experiment with music within the next couple of years, and se how it goes.


How and when did you realise you were an artist?

It didn't really happen on/during a specific moment. However, the last summer of the last millennium was determinant in my life as an artist: I visited for the first time the Gugghenheim in Bilbao, where a provisional exhibition of Lietchenstein was showing at that moment. In an era where low cost was just a tiny monetary quantity, for a guy grown up surrounded by flamenco, bull fights and Velázquez, it was something really determinant: I just started considering about the possibility of being able to create artworks like those, artworks that show in a very simple way my own and complex ideas about the human behaviour, the social environment or concepts as fundamental as family or sex.

Did anyone specially encourage you to become and artist?

Funnily, that same year I met my ex partner Jon. After exactly one month of meeting, he planned a trip to Madrid with his family. I planed it too, but secretly. The day we should meet, I kind of second guess where he should be through stupidly suspicious phone calls that Jon would never find out there were tips for me. We tried at the IKEA, at the FNAC but finally it happened in the best place ever: inside the Prado museum, incredibly right in front of Las Meninas painting. That would be, by the way, my first day with his mum, his dad and his brothers. Hi ya!! LOL

Jon was an artist. A painter. He lived in San Francisco, CA for a few years, and with him, I was always surrounded by art, by good art. We went to massive art fairs, to incredible shows together. I learnt everyday. And in 2002 I had my first exhibition ever. It just happened. Obviously I had to experience with his materials, with the techniques, and see what it was going through. I really enjoyed the experience and a few months after we both presented for a group exhibition in Malaga.

–Jon Castizo, RIP–


Is there a message in your art? What is it?

I've got a theory about how education should be. Actually, it's too hard to explain and quite tedious if we are speaking about art, but basically I never considered myself a follower of any big idea given by any book of books. I remember when I was in the elementary school, I was fired from the Religion classes for challenging the teacher and asking a lot about facts to demonstrate that idea about the Trinity, and other things like that. Since then, with no big influence who 'guide your way', I've been taking my own influences from several different origins, and creating a solid base with my own beliefs. So today I trust on a very religious idea of making happy to others, spreading love and challenging people to be better persons. And that's the main message I include in my artworks.

Will you be breaking into new art forms and media?

Totally. The same way I follow trends or get influenced by other pieces, artists or designers when working under a briefing—for those who don't know, it's Advertising industry the one that pays my bills—, I try to innovate as much as I can when dedicating time to the artistic world. I always felt a special attraction to lights, to electronic stuff able to illuminate, to moving lights, to neon colours... I guess that's part of my attention deficit disorder. But that whole thing has made me feel very curious about the possibility of combining materials, applying light to surfaces, etcetera. I would say I want to experiment with music within the next couple of years, and se how it goes.


What would be your dream collaboration?

I honestly would not be comfortable saying just one. And, contrariously to BuzzFeed, I hate setting top to bottom lists so let's mention randomly some possible collaborations coming to my mind right now—obviously keeping dead people out of this list: a fashion collaboration with Commes des Garçons, an electronic music project with Robyn, a shoot session with Lernert & Sander, or with Biel Capllonch, performing live with Sara Baras a whole choreography by Anne Marie de Freeshmaker, a series of stills with Patrick Rochon, filming a sex video with Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin or creating an art intervention along the Sheikh Zayed Road with Cristo. And maybe something crazy with Hirst. Gaga? Maybe her too.

What are the cities that inspire you?

I reckon that the bigger a city is, the more influential it becomes but not necessarily in a good way. One of the things it makes a place really interesting is the fact of having a long history behind. London is very old and big, but old above all; that's why London is one of the best places to live and create. Dubai, let's say, is becoming fully entertainment and it will become very experimental within the next few years. But the taste you get when you go now is that it all is a bit a fake; all is made to make money. That's sad.

I lived in places like Barcelona, where everything is beautiful but the art scene is miserable, as well as the nightlife. Madrid, in the other side, is great for art and it keeps a very old tradition of socialising, what makes people getting involved on more and more stuff.

At the end, the more you can travel is the more you will experience. Who doesn't know that?


What other artists do you admire? What is your favourite piece of art?

Picasso, Miro, Dalí, Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Rothko, Malievick, Chris Cunningham, Madonna, Amy Winehouse... What a question! There are SO MANY. Robin Footitt is an artist that I really admire. For so many reasons. He is quietly working on his career, no rush, right steps. His knowledge is extraordinary. I think the more you admire people, the richer you are.

My favourite piece of art? The one that makes me sit down on the floor next to it, look up and forget who I am and where I am. Lately I can't stop keeping an eye on people like Lernert & Sander, or like Bompas & Parr; it's sooo NOW. I think this kind of artists are forming the bases of the new way of designing and creating.

How would you describe the current art scene for new artists?

It's very spread and everyone can reach it, what makes it the more diversified possible. But I feel a bit in pain because it's the money who controls that, and as usual, the money is in the wrong hands. That's why I said yes when asked to be part of Chrom-Art, the new London-based social community that provides emerging artists an open door to the difficult World of Art. Not only the idea was very fresh, but also it brought to my mind the thinking that a change could happen in the art scene. Something very humanistic. Something very 80's. Energetic, new, inspiring... Nowadays, in an überconnected world—nothing to do with taxis—, where everybody knows about everyone and all is done and said, talent is very difficult to find. Real talent. That's what we all should look for, to aspire for, and to fight for.


What are your artistic goals?

Experiencing the more I can. Learn the more I can. Live the more experiences I can. Collaborating the more I can. Visiting the more places I can. Attending the more events I can...

That all will make me so happy.

JC.

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