It was a bright beautiful day and I already felt happy for going there.
The neighbourhood, dog and cats greeted me kindly. The room was cozy and small, filled with books, CDs, magazines and toys. Everything was in its exact place waiting to be held or appreciated. Every inch of that room meant something and the room itself was like a unique spot in the world, a parallel universe.
There I was, hypnotized by that environment, when Augusto Costhanzo brought coffee.
Your real name is Augusto Costanzo, why did you add the “h” to it?
Because my father is an artist and he signed his works as Costanzo. I added the h of son in Spanish to differ myself from him.
How was the beginning of your career?
I always wanted to publish in magazines and newspapers, which had always been my goal. My work was always close to humour and graphic media. In a way, during the last ten years, illustration has become something fashionable. In the eighties nobody knew what illustration was, it was weird trying to explain my job to people.
I started working for local magazines and newspapers. I did almost everything; I was learning and trying different techniques. In 1999 I travelled to Europe for the first time and began to decide a bit more on what I preferred doing. Music and movies always caught my attention and I wanted to work with that universe.
I did two exhibitions, the first one in Centro Cultural Recoleta, and the second one (Almost Famous) in Sonoridad Amarilla Gallery.
Where do you find inspiration?
Well, mostly in movies, comics and music, obviously. That’s why I created hifi stories. I had this idea which I proposed to a local magazine, I had to choose an album I like and draw something inspired by that music. And more, add some hypothetical perfect moment where that particular album should be heard. It’s like a movie frozen in a still image.
This is like a whole universe of your own: movies, music, illustrations and now t-shirts!
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing, I’m building that universe.
How do you define yourself?
I’m not worried about defining myself, I’m somewhat in the middle of mainstream and indie, some people think I’m extremely modern and some others believe I’m completely classic. I like that.
You have recently worked in the art of indie music festival Buenos Aires Ciudad Emergente, right? Tell me about it.
Well, what I did for Ciudad Emergente was my interpretation of melancholy and fury of indie music and street art culture. I’ve been working in album art for some time and so I took this as a nice challenge.
You see, for example, in the nineties we retrieved elements from the fifties, some kind of comfort and people enjoying life. Illustration became important then. But in 2000 the world became a different place, and everything was tense again. Therefore, street art became popular and meaningful. Street art aesthetics is some kind of vomit, a response to what these kids have watched in TV. It’s a blending of childhood elements transformed into something furious.
Tell me about your experience in Spain.
Well, I travelled to Spain in 2001 and had a great experience with people, they opened their doors for me and soon I began working for some newspapers and magazines there. I believe “a city is the people you get to know in that place” and I met really great people there.
Which are the nicest things that happened to you because of your work?
I do this because I want to be loved. Although I don’t have a continuous work in one local magazine or newspaper, I have a few followers that know what I’m doing. That’s incredible.
Another huge experience for me was attending to great musician Daniel Melero’s class about “audiovisual dis-learning”. I needed a disruption in my careers, a turn of the screw, and I truly found it. This class lasted for 5 years and was a big shelter for me during the local crisis and until now. I’m really glad I did it.
So you’re already thinking about future projects right?
Of course, I want to publish some books and work in exhibitions that truly make me proud. You know, I don’t think my career has been easy, but I’m a total fighter and I persevere in an idea until I get it. I’m very critic about myself and my work. I’m the first critic.
He keeps talking surrounded by illustrations and I remember me as a little girl, I remember how much I loved to watch people drawing. It was a very happy place. That must be why illustration has become so meaningful, transcending everything with a power of its own.
Costhanzo has created a living universe, it’s a breathing creature moved by that power. Creativity, art, imagination, colours, pencils, characters, fragments of life. Characters moving to the sound of pencil against paper. A small battle every day to create a magical mystery universe, inside and out.
Text: Gisella Lifchitz