Nuno Moreira is a 32 year old visual artist from Portugal currently living and working in Tokyo. Nuno is very active in various artistic activities and disciplines. He’s a degree in Cinema and also works as an Art Director. His pursuit of movies, music and literature has given him an understanding of different media that is at his aid while he’s on a creative pursuit. Nuno has travelled a great length in many countries to accomplish his projects related to photography and video. The finest images captured over his trips in Japan, Portugal, Hungary, Malaysia, Spain, South-Korea, Romania, Russia, Taiwan are brought out in a magnificent photo-book “State of Mind”. The central idea behind “State of Mind” is the exploration and representation of exquisite human elements. “State of Mind” is a limited edition of 500 copies and can be acquired online through this website Nmphotos.org or at selected bookstores.
Photography of Nuno Moreira has a distinct feel and charm of old masters’ school with its grainy visual narratives. His photos forge a pathway into their frames to reveal many secrets. As a self-taught graphic artist, Nuno designs book covers and CD sleeves, creates collage and photo-montagees etc. in his own company and has exhibited solo and in group shows in many countries. Nuno has shot splendid color images as well but here we’re featuring black and white images from his projects “State of Mind”, “Caindo depressa de um sonho”, “What Remains”, and “Zona” (last image). See a video of his book and read our Q&A with him below:
Hi Nuno! There’s plenty to see and read about you on web but please share a bit here with our readers:
I was born in Lisbon (Portugal) and grew up in an environment filled with music, cinema and books. My dad had a vast collection of vinyl records at home so that was a huge source of fascination to me, looking at the record sleeves and trying to figure out what was that all about. Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Genesis- those bands had amazing record sleeves. I spent great part of my teenage years going to live shows, interviewing musicians, taking photos and designing small underground publications. I left home at an early age to live on my own and my education was in Cinema, because that was my passion at the time even though I perfectly knew I would never work with Cinema in a more professional way. Actually, my career has always been that of a graphic artist and professor until 2007 when I decided to go solo and just work through my own design studio, NM DESIGN, concentrating on activities I cared about and could deliver a high standard of achievements. That’s still what I do mostly throughout my day: designing jackets for books and CD, some visual identity for brands, posters for shows and doing my side projects with collage, painting and photography.
Image has always been present in my life in one way or another, because I’m a visual person and that’s how I function. My memory is visual and I think in terms of visual metaphors so photography and image-making runs deep. Photography is something I started doing progressively to explore and express myself. I find it liberating to take photos and it’s an ongoing process of self-discovery.
I first started taking photos as a compliment to my work as a graphic artist and it progressively turned into a more personal outlet for different ideas. I feel I can address better the outside world and express opinions through a different medium if I have images that back up my thoughts. In many aspects I feel photography is a dialogue I’m having with my inner self, sometimes I’m posing questions, other times just listening.
What is your artist statement as a photographer?
Photography is basically a visual language, and like any form of language has it’s own grammar and rules… which you can use logically or just deconstruct. Personally I use photography to express personal topics I find difficult to explore through verbal communication. Also image has this ability of making things seem “real” because they are depicted in front of you. Photography more than painting or drawing has this immediacy that talks in a very direct way with your stimuli and visual senses, this opens doors to many interesting ways of approaching and using image. You can deceive the viewer or just give him what he wants to see.
What I’ve been realizing not only through photography but also through photo-montage and painting is that I always end up exploring something which is not directly what you see. My work pretty much revolves around the human condition and what is not the in the frame but where the characters are leading towards or thinking about. So it’s pretty much about the invisible/imaginative and about wanting to escape from the constrains of reality and the framed space of the image into somewhere else.
Tell us about the type of photography you do and the equipment you mostly use:
I get asked this question in almost every interview and I always wonder why the curiosity with gear and the need to define genres?
As for cameras I use anything available, 35mm, medium format, half-frame, toy cameras, digital cameras, anything goes. Depends on what I’m working of course.
Tell us about your experiences into film photography and advantages over digital you’ve noticed:
Originally I started using film because I was given a film camera by a relative and I remembered using film back in the days when I was just a kid but of course for a long time afterwards I was mostly used digital like anyone else. Actually, the funny thing is that almost all of my cameras were given to me, and so I didn’t choose them they just happened to end up in my hands. So I never woke up one day and thought “okay, film is cool, I’m gonna give it a try”. My friends or relatives saw my work in exhibitions and gave me their old film cameras and that got mixed with my own way of doing photography.
Many of the projects I do come out of working with strangers or while travelling so film photography is good because I don’t get interrupted in the process, I know what I want and I just shoot and move foreword with a given vision without looking backwards. That’s mostly the advantage I see in using film cameras nowadays, the possibility of being more in the moment while you’re shooting while with digital the process is different and you get contaminated by the immediate results and that changes the workflow and the mood. Of course each project is different and if I happen to shoot for some commercial project I will most likely use digital because it’s just more convenient and post-processing will be easier.
Life is short so I made the very conscious decision in my life of only working exclusively with things I like and that I can take some pleasure from doing. If you are truly engaged in what you do, it comes out differently from anything else. For the last two years since I’ve been living in Tokyo I must say that I’ve been most prolific working with photo-montage. I try every week to have at least a couple of artworks I can feel proud of and point me in some direction to explore visually. The amount of work produced has been quite astonishing. You can see some artworks online here: http://cargocollective.com/nunomoreiradesign/ Part of this is used on book covers or other graphic projects and most probably will see the light of day in some future exhibition or publication.
The last series I did was “State of Mind” which resulted in the release of photo-book and several exhibitions in Lisbon and Tokyo. This project emerged from trips around the world and as a personal narrative coming out of the places and people I encountered along the way. This book serves as a monograph to my work in the last five years and it brings together images of transitory moments and encounters – what I started calling the “thinking moments” of the people that crossed my path. It’s their mental landscapes and I just happen to have recognized those silent moments and capture them on film.
The next series I’m working on is sort of a continuation in theme but structurally very different in approach. It’s basically about exploring the human psyche and forms of representing our dreams, wishes and fears. Concepts we can all relate but somehow can’t explain. Perhaps in 2015 I’ll have something to show.
What is the most important and challenging aspect of your work? Tell us how do you perceive your own photography as an artist and as a layman:
In terms of photography I view what I do as a pursuit for some sort of liberation. It’s hard to explain but I’m mostly moved by things that somehow disturb me and those topics – the ones that stick with me for longer periods of time – are the ones I want to explore visually and articulate through photography related projects. I know this sounds a bit pretentious but that’s what I truly feel. My interest in photography is creating a stage, or should I say a mood, in which a given topic has enough space to be thought about and live on its own.
It’s rather curious because the act of photographing is something I don’t question, I just do it quickly and try to be moved by responding to outside stimulus. It’s as primitive as possible, it’s pure instinct. But before I photograph I do think about it a lot and it’s a completely inward process where I write about the themes I will photograph and sometimes even draw or dream about everything. So it’s almost two different sides of the same coin.
What makes you click? You told us above about “thinking moments”… what about your decisive moments?
It’s sort of a subconscious process. I used to take photos in a much more instinctive way by whatever grasped my attention but after doing that for different purposes I pretty much understood why I’m attracted to certain things and situations. I guess that’s why the series I’ve been working on recently is more theatrical in nature, because I simply have more constructed mental images of where I want to go and it didn’t make sense to be surprised by the unexpected but rather construct this sense of awe and “mysteriousness” instead.
We all know photography and visual communication (in general) tends to follow trends, I believe that’s perfectly acceptable if you can identify and even learn from those trends or gimmicks but personally I get very bored because what I see is something similar with advertisement but speaking in a parallel language to a niche target of people.
There’s no formula to create an everlasting image but if you study the images in the history of photography (and art) that still resonate and have importance nowadays they are simple in nature and either bring about technical explorations or just address very objective themes.
I strongly believe that the important things that resonate with mankind are of both of intimate and universal appeal. The more particular you go into something the bigger the possibilities of communication with a vast audience. It’s a funny paradox.
How do you stay inspired and motivated?
I feel motivation comes out of doing what you like and being persistent. A good cup of coffee also helps. Seriously, I might not be pleased with all the work I do but that doesn’t keep me from trying and keep doing more and exploring every day. I respect people like Woody Allen immensely as they just work endlessly and sometimes there’s great stuff coming out and other times not so interesting, but they keep going. Everyday I try to do something that I can feel ‘proud’ of, so I insist on drawing, reading or writing everyday because that keeps me aligned with what I want to do next.
I think motivation or inspiration comes out of curiosity and questioning things around you. I could almost say that if one likes to observe most likely he or she has the ability of being a creative person. But of course I don’t believe in the bullshit story of waiting for inspiration ‘to come’- that’s just nonsense. Inspiration comes out of doing more work and failing along the way.
Thank you, Nuno, for sharing with us so much about your art and creativity. Please say something helpful or inspiring to our readers:
Fortunately we are all different people so it gets a bit ridiculous to address the readers (if there’s any out there!) with big bold statements. Just follow your natural instincts, don’t try to live to someone else’s expectations or standards but your own and keep surprising yourself. It’s important to see the world beyond the screens and keep imagination and curiosity alive, if each person brings something of their own into what they do we will most likely have interesting things to see and think about. If you liked my work please support by going to my website and ordering a copy of my book, you will be helping me work on my forthcoming series. Thank you.
Note: All images used with permission. Please do not copy or distribute without the approval of the photographer.