nearchos ntaskas

nearchos ntaskas is an athens based multi-award winning illustrator whose vibrant works convey bebop tempos and shades of whimsy. nearchos and partner clair georgelli, run polkadot design studio at the foot of the acropolis. he speaks with i.t.a. about his design process, trouble in the greek economy and peace beneath the ancient citadel.

hey nearchos, welcome to powder. your award-winning illustrations and cartoons have certainly captivated us here… we think they’re quite enchanting.

firstly i’d like to ask what you are working on at present and what projects you have coming up in the future?

At this time, I am working on a personal exhibition. It is a long process that I will take on during this winter.

At the same time at the studio we are running a big project for the Acropolis Museum. We have been asked to design a 300 page guide book. It's a fascinating project as you get involved with all the beautiful ancient monuments, get to know their history and get the chance to have a closer look at their greatness.

Also we are working on another project for our client Alpha Bank, a cultural event they are sponsoring, in which we are welcome and free and to illustrate for the Opera Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi.

how do you approach a new piece? where do you get your inspiration from and from there, whatʼs the process that you undertake to produce your work?

Research plays a vital role in my work. This is an important process for me and I usually allow enough time for this. Through art books, design books and the internet I collect images and information I find interesting and relevant to the project. The more research I do the easier it is later on for me to 'know where I'm going'. It is an inspiring process and creates ground for ideas to mature.

If I get stuck, again I go back to research and carry on.

At this stage I try to avoid deciding on the 'style' of the illustration as I prefer to concentrate on the 'idea' and leave a blank wide area for new things to arise.

When I have formed something in my head I start to draw with pencil on paper and then gradually after a lot of sketching the idea begins to take shape and form.

Finally I move things on my computer and work further on colour and composition.

you often say that you are more interested in creating something that is ʽhonestʼ rather than something ʽgood looking.ʼ can you elaborate on this?

As an artist I am interested in transferring my personal view through my work. I believe that the reason why a viewer may 'connect' to an artwork is when the artwork is ‘sincere’. Then everything is simple, pure and honest. When you express something that is real anyone can sense it and this makes it 'alive' and ready to interact.

I first mind about producing what I want, what I believe, rather than something good looking. Of course when I have the main body there I will try to make it look good also but this is secondary.

Simple forms, strong compositions and clear colours are some of my design values. Through this I reach my final outcome.

what lead you down the path to becoming an illustrator? how did your career begin?

I studied graphic design but my drawing skills lead me to explore the field of animation. The first ten years I worked in animation, created storyboards for TV series and various animation productions in Europe. At some point I found myself in need of exploring my personal style further. Illustration was a challenge for me because I was taking on projects from beginning to production, a thing that could never happen in an animation production.

how did your company, polkadot design, come about? whatʼs the story behind it?

Polkadot is the name of the studio I co-founded with my partner Clair Georgelli designer and children's book illustrator. We used to work together as freelancers for a couple of years and in 2008 we joined forces to create Polkadot Design Studio.

'Polkadot' is a classic pattern that is so old but timeless and appears again and again modern and fresh during times.

Last but not least we liked the sound of the word!

youʼve done a lot of work for well-known clients; which are the most memorable campaigns that you have been a part of?

We have been lucky because from our very beginning we’ve had clients from the cultural field and projects that gained a lot of attention for our work.

Our latest big project was to design and illustrate the banners for the period 2012-2013 for one of the most important buildings and cultural organizations in Greece, 'Megaron: the Athens Concert Hall'.

polkadot design has received many awards. which were the highlights for you?

We do participate in competitions mainly to promote our studio. However we don't believe that only the works that are awarded are truly the best, some works don't even have the chance to participate in competitions.

Also, creativity is not something that can be measured or compared like sports.

youʼre studio is situated beneath the acropolis in athens; what is it like creating in such an environment?

Athens is a loud crowded city. However at the place where the Acropolis is based there is a beautiful atmosphere of silence and calmness that makes you feel nice. Our studio lies very close to one of the most beautiful walking paths in the world.

We love to walk around this area and grasp its spirit. It is a very welcoming place and we feel blessed to be able to come here everyday and do the work we love doing. If anyone happens to be around here please ring our bell!

the greek economy has been hit hard over the past years. how are peopleʼs lives being affected by these circumstances and what are the major issues being faced in greece at present?

Greece is a big part of the deep financial crisis in Europe. Less wealthy people have started having serious financial and social problems. Greeks have undergone major cuts and this has made quality of life poorer as a whole. Unfortunately there are no 'values' in the political field that people could turn their hopes to and this makes the whole situation more disappointing.

thank you nearchos for taking the time to chat with powder. it’s a pleasure to be able to display such graceful work within our magazine and we look forward to seeing your next pieces.

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