Bak 17 Is Online!
'Face', 17th issue of Bak Magazine, is now online! Sit back, relax and enjoy!


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Interviews in Bak | 17
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Nelson Balaban
Graphic Designer { }
Nelson Balaban

With your very well designed and creative pieces of digital art, you were shown as one of the “Successful Designers Under 25” of Computer Arts magazine. There are also many web sites linking to your works and lots of fans talking about your talents. When and how did you decide to choose graphic design as a job? Why do you mention your name as Nelson Balaban JR.? Is it because of your age or is there another Nelson Balaban?

I decided to choose graphic design as my job like a year ago, when I thought with myself that randomly choosing a carrier might be a risk and can end up as a wrong choice. I already can support myself at 18 only and I genuinely enjoy what I do. Well about the "Junior", there isn't another Nelson Balaban besides my dad, though, I did think it would be better to show up as Nelson Balaban Junior. I think I'm going to step up and take Nelson Balaban as my name for now on; I just realized that the "Junior" is almost meaningless on the internet.

What does “Xtrabold” mean? Why did you choose that name for your online portfolio?

Xtrabold is like Extra Bold, and I choose it because I think my work is meaningful, strong at some aspects. The bold stands out, and is a word which I can really identify myself with. Plus I needed a relevant name and a personal identity rather than just my name, it's cool when you type Xtrabold at any search engine and almost 100% of the results are relevant. I think that "Xtrabold" is remarkable.

People are getting surprised when they learn that you are 18 years old. Are you happy with your age and do you think it’s really a big advantage, or would you prefer getting older immediately?

It's funny how some people can't believe I'm just 18. I'm pretty happy with my age, it's been great living on my own and doing whatever I want to. When I was beyond 18 I couldn't take bigger projects, now that I can, I just want to learn and grow as designer/artist. I don't hurry about anything on my life unlike some people do, I just want to enjoy it and learn from it, make the most of it.

You were dreaming of moving to United States and then London to make your life better, in the summer. We know that your father lives far away from your place and your mother lives in Spain. But you have a girlfriend and you have two lives to take care of. Are you still making plans for moving? Will you take her with you? What kind of life are you dreaming of? And… Why London?

Yes, and I won't step back about these plans. Education isn't that great here in Brazil, so as soon as I finish high-school I'll be moving to London. My girlfriend understands the fact that I love what I do, and I will go wherever it takes me to. I've recently moved to Sao Paulo, it's been a hell of a commuting (6 hours away), I'm going home every weekend! When I move, I don't think about taking her with me. We both are so young still, there's a lot to happen on our lives. Besides, she has her own plans too. I think that London is the best place to study arts on the current scene, I felt really good when I went there to meet some friends. Doing what I like, working on exciting projects and having a healthy, happy life is the life I want to have.

Nowadays, we see that every single person who installs Adobe Photoshop introduces himself as a graphics designer. That’s why you decided not to use your Deviantart account anymore. Could you please tell us about this situation? What sort of qualities does a graphic designer need to have?

Deviantart has been a great place to receive feedback from skilled people - until the whole administration changed and the website lost the artistic principles it used to have once. The problem isn't what people call themselves of... to explain better, this question comes to mind "Am I an artist because I enjoy doing art, or because I enjoy being called as an artist?" The popularity is something good if you know how to deal with it, but some people want it so bad that they forget what an artist/designer is at its main essence. The main quality a designer should have, in my opinion, is knowledge. Even if you don't study you can earn good knowledge, that's what the internet stands for. Everything else comes after.

Do you have any plans for a new personal project, such as a book, an online magazine, another web site or some kind of an exhibition?

Yes I do, me and 2 friends have started this project called "Greyplant" as can be seen at the main page of my website. I love to check through the e-magazines and news websites, as a news contributor at Uailab ( I love to spread a word about something interesting. The project is still in progress, we don't know wether it will become reality or not. But I'm definitly up for something different, rather than just showcasing other people's work I'd like to start something that can actually fill up people's minds with ideas and inspiration.

We know that you are very much interested in music and you listened to very different genres. Does music change your mood while working? Does it directly reflect to your artistic creations sometimes?

Music is a great part on my creative proccess, I can't work without it. I listen from root samba to metalcore, I also like the oldies, that's right. Music doesn't change my mood, my mood determines the kind of music I want to listen to. I sincerely think that it does reflect on my artistic creations, indeed. That surreal artwork of mine, "Apocalyptic Visions", was made while listening to Sepultura, the name comes from one of the songs I was listening to. Maybe it wouldn't turn out as it did if I was listening to another artist instead.

Are you interested in cinema? What kind of movies and which film directors do you find closer to yourself, in terms of visual comprehension?

I love cinema. My favourite movie to date, which is hard to name because of the large amount of movies I've watched, is A Clockwork Orange. Of course, there are a bunch of people that can say I'm mentally disabled just because I actually enjoyed the movie, but they didn't get the whole thing. I also loved Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it, and Quentin Tarantino is the director I'd love to have as a teacher or instructor, that man has so much to tell.

In Europe, people always say that it’s not that necessary to watch a Brazilian football player before transferring him. That’s enough if he’s a Brazilian. As a young Brazilian man who lives in Sao Paulo, which is the home of best Brazilian clubs such as Corinthians, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo FC, are you interested in football?

It is really hard to find any Brazilian that doesn't like football. When it comes to World Cup or even American Cup, everyone stops doing whatever is being done to watch the match. When I lived in Spain for 6 months, I got invited to join the local football club, they didn't even want to make a test. That was really fun, we made the final and took the first place. I'm not really good at it, but as a Brazilian it's such an obligation to show some quality at football, hehe.

Close your eyes and try to imagine… Imagine that you have one chance to make a wish and it will come true immediately. What would be your choice?

I'd love to see my mother and father together, not that I feel like an abandoned son, I always knew how to deal with it. Sometimes I think that if they hadn't broke up, I wouldn't become an independent teenager this early, I wouldn't acquire anything else than just what we learn at school. The last time I saw my mom and dad with me was on my latest birthday, when I got 18 - that was a really pleasant moment indeed. So that's my wish, will something happen or can I keep writting? :)

"Education isn't that great here in Brazil, so as soon as I finish high school, I'll be moving to London. I think that London is the best place to study arts on the current scene."

- Nelson Balaban / Bak 10
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