Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Icons, Posters and Design Awards

There has been change in the graphic design scene in Greece during the last 5, or maybe 6, or even 10 years.If we exclude the rather shit market conditions, which, post-Olympics depression kinda way have become even more shit, there has evidently been some westernisation in the field. That may translate into better designers (whatever that mean - probably people with a proper design education - thank you UK, wake up and smell the humus, Greek Ministry of Education), or more design-aware clients (who actually think design DOES matter - they must be out of their minds!), or a number of other things - but the thing is, it's happenning. Part of this belated rise of Greek design to more international standards is the introduction of the first 'official' national design awards, called "EVGE" - a wordplay with the initials that form a greek word for "Congratulations". (For some untraceable reason wordplays have recently become a very hip element in graphic design here).
So these awards have been around for about six years now and this year's ceremony took place in Salonica, which for some other untraceable reason has recently been producing a remarkable number of gifted new designers.

So i submitted 3 posters and 1 leaflet and so they called me up and told me i had won an award and that i would have to be at the awards ceremony on April 14th to find out what i'd won. So, after an agonizing hunt for a plane ticket and via some novel kind of tourism from a random hotel room and through the architecturally intriguing streets of downtown Salonica to the charming little theater (the "Olympia") where the event took place, i won first prize in the "Poster" category for a couple of posters i made last year for some jazz gigs at the Bar Guru Bar in downtown Athens.

The crowd emitted a foul air of hectic competitiveness and the ceremony lasted TOO LONG. So long me and my girlfriend nearly starved, slept and pissed ourselves. But the hosts were ocassionally funny, at least one third of the work awarded excellent and the guy who gave me the award, a cool young graphic designer from Salonica, told me from his heart how much he liked my posters. Truth is, I liked these two posters much myself. I remember how I fully enjoyed using felt pens and markers to produce the typography and I remember how I thought that I wanted to come up with something that felt like a cross between some hand-painted murals i'd seen in Senegal and heroic jazz-warrior portraits gone a bit naive. Or something like that.

The day after the awards ceremony we literally tripped away into the newly built Museum of Byzantine Culture in Salonica. Mariliza had a mild attack of claustrophobia, and not only I noticed how the place was rather deliberately given the vibe of a medieval castle or monastery, but also how a couple of the icons from the last byzantine period, covered with a sparkling gold in the background, resembled somewhat in their basic language my awarded posters.

One thing is certain - the architects of the Museum must have been listening to a LOT of goth music. Maybe playing some medieval-themed online RPGs, too. I seriously suspect they added a lot of humour to their project, and I also suspect the client hasn't suspected it yet.

The Elephant in the Living Room

Did recently some graphics for Global Canopy in Oxford, a bunch of fellows that try hard to show the rest of the world that stopping forest burning around the planet will eventually help us reduce dramatically those notorious carbon dioxide emissions whose mere reference evoke images of Al Gore speaking to dazzled audiences (and his dvd selling like hotcakes), Dubya being completely chimpanzoid about it and giant tsunami waves engulfing skyscrapers and the statue of Liberty.

Was asked to come up with a temporary launch page for their website and a layout/design for a pdf report they needed to post on it before Monday the 14th of May, when an article on the very subject would eventually appear on the first page of The Independent . So it did, and it seems that the Global Canopy people got a rewarding amount of much deserved publicity. Check out the video in their website - those flying chimpos are the cat's pyjamas.