Today, we are joined by Spyros Athanassopoulos , he is a Graphic Designer. You can view his portfolio here.
Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today?
My first degree was an aircraft mechanic. But from the first moment I graduated from university I was sure that I would not use it. And then I obligatory served my military service (as far as you know is compulsory in Greece) where because of my degree I was ranked in military helicopters. It was well and fun for the one and a half year that I served there but this previous experience helped me to understand that I did not want to pursue this profession. Then after I was fired from the army, I worked for a year as a waiter while I was trying to find out what was really wanted to do.
Then that summer I went to the cinema with a friend of mine and saw a movie. Of course now I cannot remember anymore the title, however, the protagonist was a web designer and worked in a respective company. The story was that he shouldnʼt simply sleep with a girlfriend for 40 days and they had even made a corresponding site that count downed days. So his colleagues put bets if he will succeed or not. Anyway at the age of 21 it seemed exciting and very funny. Maybe I wanted to live in such an environment . When the movie ended and we left I knew that I wanted to deal with the web design and was fascinated with all that. It seemed relatively easy, because I always planned on paper or on the walls. Back then I remember we had also a group called “almost legal” and made stencils and graffiti in the streets.
So I went to college and there I had to specialize on something like graphics, web design etc… but also to deal with traditional graphic design. In hand! What I particularly liked so I thought to keep on with this industry.
This of course was only a stimulus, because since then I daily still read the updates and trends, new ways and new technology.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The truth is that most of in my career I enjoy that many differences between the projects that I have been involved. On the other hand of course that causes me stress but I think in reality is very difficult to stay in a company or some other work for many years. And this is exactly what makes me love more in graphic design. As I get older, grow, so this work does. What we create today and we are sure, does not necessarily hold true tomorrow.
I started working in publishing, where I worked for 2 years and then I got into the advertising business that was a great favorite. I stayed in McCann Erickson – Athens for 4 years, which is long enough for my standards. After that it was web design for two years and now I try to develop my own personal design studio.
What were the biggest inspirations for your career?
I think that for my generation, and talking about the Greek graphic design, the most recognizable designer is Dimitris Arvanitis and his extraordinary posters.
What are some favorite projects you’ve completed and why?
My favorite graphic designer project I will keep it for me and my girlfriend, it is our staff. In fact is more than favorite and I am very proud of it .. But I particularly liked an advertising entry (print ad) that I created when I was in the advertising business. It’s for frozen Greek traditional coffee. Whenever as visual has a Greek rustic shoe as an ice skate. We consummated the project very quickly and I liked it because I did everything from the start. The idea, the photography and the implementation in less than 2 days.
This print was awarded with gold award in the annual festival of advertisement for Greece in 2008 but was also shortlisted in New York Festival.
Tell us about your graphic design education. How did you decide to study graphic design?
Probably I rather hurried and answered this question above…J
In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your graphic design education?
The first day in college one of the professors walked in the classroom and told us the following words: Anyone who can make another profession should be gone now from this room and go do it. Here should stay only the ones who can not do anything else.
This work is above all a need to create and communicate. But it is very difficult when it is a daily job. The business is very competitive and now in addition to the Greek economic crisis rather the things have gone worse. Perhaps I consider that understanding my professorʼs phrase I know everything you need to know about that regards my professional future.
Now, regarding the creative pieces, I would like to know too many things from my childhood, how come generally more about the process, but purely by hand. I wanted to work for an office barely a week that works only by hand in the 70ʼs. Old school..
Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious schools, departments or programs? Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?
I believe that the Dutch are the most respected and experimental schools. Yes I think that plays a role which school is over, at least for the beginning of your career. And this is natural. I strongly believe that in the end becomes the best someone who never stops the hard work and daily updates.
What can students applying to graphic design schools do to increase their chances of being accepted?
This is family. Who are part of this family will be accepted. This means that you will probably have done theoretically projects alone. As most of the people. We wonʼt wait for someone to entrust something to come somewhere. I hope you understand me.
What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in graphic design?
Will probably end up in the phrase of my teacher. To do something else if they can, if not then all will go well. Also to know that even the most creative job position there it is and it demands a lot of hard work. In fact, the tough part will be a lot more than 70% of the job.
What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?
Now I run my own STUDIO. So I do everything.. From communication with the customer until the final typographical oversight of the work or the development.
What are the tools of the trade that you use the most?
I use a lot my camera and of course paper and pencil.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
The thing that intrigues me the most is to create solid, gentle images which to operate and that there must communicate with everything I have used in each case. Photography, illustration, typography, and all mixed together.
What are the hottest specialties within the graphic design field over the next decade?
If we always talk about graphing design I believe that the first role has always played the natural talent. Always your hand and your mind will do it all. After the information and how much you want it. But because the design for many years now has technological nature that mean codes and programming, this is a very important section too.