Jorge Chamorro: Exercising Freedom with Graphic Design

Somehow, Jorge Chamorro ( always had an inkling that he would become a graphic designer, even before he could grasp exactly what that meant.  “When I went to films with my father, I was so bored by the films, but I would always look at the lettering instead of the pictures,” he says. “I was always interested in graphic design without knowing it was called graphic design.”

Despite studying audio/visual communication in college, Jorge managed to find his way to the design world after graduation. The Madrid native worked with a number of design and advertising firms throughout the city, but he eventually became burned out by the daily routine once the lines between creating art and creating profit margins started to blur.

Jorge Chamorro

“I think that graphic design is work where you have to communicate, not work where you have to sell,” Chamorro says. “[In advertising], it’s all about selling without any kind of love or worth; that’s why I hate it so much. I like to be happy with my work and not only earn money.”

This realization is what fueled Jorge’s decision to leave the advertising industry behind and chart his own career path about four years ago. It was around this time that he started to delve deeper into his own artistic projects — focused on his interest in collages — which allowed Chamorro to step away from digitally produced images and explore a more DIY approach.

“You don’t always have to be political, but I think that if you can express yourself in freedom, it is good for you and good for everything.”

“I work with a computer all the time, but I don’t like them,” he says. “So when I do handmade collages, I enjoy the paper and the scissors in my hands, and I like it very much…they are like my sons.”

Initially, Chamorro intended for his collages to simply be a personal project and didn’t plan on doing anything serious with them. He also prefers to keep his designs simple and unfussy. “I admire designers that do very complicated things, but to look at it for five seconds, I say, ‘I couldn’t do that in all my life,’” he says. “The kind of design that I like is very much just black and white. I was reading a book [by Eduardo Chillida], and he finds that black and white is the highest way to communicate. I like things simple; I think that your life and your work have to go in the same way.

Jorge Chamorro

Chamorro took a surrealistic approach with his “Women” series by incorporating images of women’s body parts juxtaposed with landscape scenes and geometric elements. Though the images draw similarities to Salvador Dalí’s intricate and whimsical paintings, Chamorro mentions that he was not directly influenced by Dalí’s work and that he simply wanted to create pieces and leave their meaning open ended.

“With many of them, I really have no idea where any of them come from,” he says. “With ‘Women,’ I really didn’t think anything, just ‘make, make, make,’ and that was it. When I try to do something, I really don’t wish anything. I just try to have a good time and learn from myself.”

His work took a political turn with his recent “VIVA ESPA__A” series. Chamorro also does work for a Spanish graphic-design magazine and was inspired to create a project that focuses on an iconic bull image, which has become a popular symbol of patriotism. “In the last few years, [the bull image] has become important to the people of Spain, and they put it on their cars for example,” he says. “To me, it sucks. I hate it, but so many people love it because it is so Spanish.”

As a result, his project focuses on playing with variations of this iconic image in a way that is meant to provoke viewers to question the symbol’s original intent. “I don’t like how the world goes and how Spain goes, and I think that art is a good way to fight and express yourself,” Chamorro says. “You don’t always have to be political, but I think that if you can express yourself in freedom, it is good for you and good for everything.”

Jorge Chamorro

Chamorro also brings this philosophy to the next generation of artists. When he’s not creating his own collages, he facilitates creativity workshops for students in Madrid’s schools. “I think that my work is very lonely work, and to be with 15 children can be a good mix,” he says. “When you see a collage made in five minutes by a 10-year-old, it can be shocking, but I also learn a lot from them.”

When it comes to the kids, he not only wants to impart an eye for design but also hopes that they will learn how to push society’s buttons as well. “I don’t like the education [system] in Spain,” he says. “I think that education should be more about teaching how to think. The world likes people who don’t think too much — ‘just make money and shut up.’ I like to teach the children critical thinking, and that’s my objective. I would like to see a more critical population.”

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