Featured Creatives

Xesta Studio

February 2019

We chat with Hugo "Xesta" Moura of Xesta Studio, about collaboration, experimentation, Walt Disney, and of course Porto. Hugo has so much love for his home city of Porto and he tells us about how living in the city has influenced, and continues to influence, his work. Plus we touch on his roots in graffiti and talk about how failing is fundamental to growth.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I consider myself, not only, but mostly a graphic designer. Since the foundation of the studio, in 2011, the premise regarding the project was to be a graphic design studio, but always with a constant regard for all the ramifications and creative fields in which, mostly of the times, I would like to act — graffiti, calligraphy, lettering, typography and illustration.

It always pleased me this idea of "custom-made". Something that was purposely created to be unique to a particularly person or entity, almost like a ‘limited edition’. However, if I had to chose one, maybe it would be branding design, as it is almost a catch-up of the areas I most enjoy working. It attracts me the idea of being able to build a brand, and then to be able to unfold and apply it in the different types of media, which can start with a logo, go through a poster and end up in a mural painting.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

I was born in Porto. This is where I grew up, where I've matured, personally and professionally, and continue to do so. I really love the city! It's really rich when it comes to food, architecture, typography, craftsmanship and so on. So for me it’s a great base of resources, that, whenever I can, try to bring to my work. Living here allows me to think more clearly and to creatively produce what I love the most, more efficiently. Because it's home!

For me Porto is known to be one of the most visual enriched cities, it's undoubtedly one of my biggest influences.

Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

"If you can dream it, you can do it." Thank you Walt Disney!

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Failing is fundamental when it comes to my growth as a creative

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Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if so how it shapes your practice?

Yes, I am, and it's great! In the beginning I was a bit unsure about this idea of teaching someone. It was never a priority of mine or even a possibility, until then. Actually, I was afraid of what should I present to my class, which information would be relevant and interesting for them, in the first place. In the meantime, I started to grow fond of it, I started to enjoy it more and more. What interest me the most was that exchange of experiences!

I believe it’s fundamental to share information that we find relevant, interesting, creative, purposeful or merely entertaining, so we allow ourselves to fully and healthy develop our ability to consciously criticize and make a point. I always try to present the students my most effective and my less efficient methodologies, so they adapt and recognize failure as a healthy part of all creative processes, and therefore, the most efficient way to conquer better results in the future.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

My way of work always was collaborating with others, something that started long before my design training with graffiti. This idea has always pleased me, the fact that several people with different styles and ideas come together to create a piece together. This thought and way of working still accompanies me today. My work is mostly collaborative because it only has to gain from it.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

It was never a premeditated thing, this relation that I now maintain towards letters, it happened naturally. It started with graffiti and, with time, it developed. I don’t believe that I have a specific, personal style, since I work and explore a lot of types of calligraphy and lettering. I do believe it’s fundamental to work towards a sense of perfection that I’m aware that does not exist. That it is what fuels me to experiment new things, new styles, trying to create something that’s always better than the previous one. Failing is fundamental when it comes to my growth as a creative!

Website: xestastudio.com

Instagram: @xestastudio

Twitter: @xestastudio

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