Graphiconstruk is a project I have been developing since 2004, even though some of the drawings I use as source can date back to 2001. The main purpose is to create new artworks reordering graphic elements within the same piece from previously created works. A way of self graphic anthropophagy.

Turning a handful of drawings into a project didn’t pop into my mind as the light bulb in the old cartoons, which appears out of the blue to reveal a great idea. I love old cartoons, and I wish it had been that easy. However I didn’t even notice a project was building silently through the years in the background with each drawing I made.

I guess it all started as an animated-film project in 1997 called Vida, ‘Life’ in Portuguese, when I still lived in Brazil, and was graduating from college with a bachelors in Fine Arts. At the time, I was working on an animation studio, doing short movies using several techniques. I couldn’t dedicate a lot of time to finish Vida, as it was a personal project and I had to primarily concentrate on the projects of the studio. But I kept working on the 2000 acetates for the movie on my own.

In 2001, I spent almost a year in England where I exhibited some of my acrylic paintings. Being far from home and in a different culture inspired me to obsessively draw. In a few months I filled two large sketch books with hundreds of drawings and scribbles, which I have been using now as one of the sources for the Graphiconstruk project.

On my return to Rio de Janeiro, I got a job doing art restoration and another one as an art teacher for children in the slums/favelas of Rio. Working with children for the first time put me in contact with the spontaneous way they represent their reality through their drawings. It was primary for my creating process.

In 2002, I got married to my wife Rebecca. Today we have three sons and live in Chicago. All this time I have been closely observing the people and all the things that surround me, and have used them as the basic raw material for my drawings. Having had children also broadened my view of the world. Through their drawings they confirm that complexity doesn’t oppose simplicity. That’s why they strip away any unnecessary elements off their creations.


I usually choose social subjects for my drawings and paintings. My anonymous characters are poor but not necessarily sad. They are expressive, but still plain faces and bodies. Most represented individuals are hungry skinny people. They may be walking or praying, and have almost the same dramatic expression. They are figures without clothes, a document of poverty, and the raw flesh of a bone-faced starving population. The project is an attempt to graphically build and rebuild this repeated scenario.

That’s why I apply numerous layers on my work. I slice out my composition in several graphic elements and save them up as assets to be re-used. I relentlessly change the properties and the order each layer is stacked within the finished work. The result is the creation of infinite versions of the same theme. The door has been open for experimenting since then. It is literally a graphic constructing experience, made out of countless original works that both merge and duplicate into new graphic representation. The experimentation ends up with the repetition building a unique work. The anthropophagy.

Using digital media provides the possibility to different interpretations of a same subject. However, all my pieces start as a drawing. No digital filters or effects are used. The computer is just a painting tool. I can either scan a drawing to work on the colors or use a pen tablet to draw. But the idea is to treat each element inside the composition as an abstract graphic element that makes up a unique image every time. Even if it is just a different background color. I like combining several versions side by side in a plain white background, regardless whether it is a wall, a web page, or a book. How the pieces interact with each other is what amazes me.

Both the randomness and the carefully thought combination of elements will reinvent the already existing work, with new and old elements. None of my pieces has a title describing them. They are numbers, to reinforce both the idea of the anonymous and the series. Something like GC-861.

This is the GraphiConstruk project. The repetition creating the new.
Just as it is in life.

nando leira

Graphiconstruk Books

Graphiconstruk TimeLapse

Graphiconstruk Chicago

Graphiconstruk Drawings