Tags: creative director
I met Dimitris Peponis, aka Frank Daniels, through friends of friends a while back, but it was his Instagram feed that made me look twice and want to know all about this guy. All I could read as I was scrolling down his posts were genuine timber surfaces, tattoos and a really cute dog, so I dragged myself to his amazingly decorated apartment in Holargos and got to know both him and Nefeli, the queen of his heart. It’s been a while since I last interviewed someone here in Athens, but it still feels so good to meet people that work hard, are good at what they do, would probably earn double if they were somewhere else in Europe, but still have a passion for Athens, for their friends and for upcoming possibilities and changes. Dimitris also restored my faith in people bearing a lot of tattoos on them going through stories and lessons learned as he pinpointed each symbol and drawing on his body. But most of all he reminded me how cool it is to have a dog by your side, and may I say Nefeli napped all throughout our small chat right by my side.
Hi Dimitris! Why do you go after the name Frank Daniels on social media?
I was quite reluctant with the use of social media in the beginning, i didn’t really like the whole fuss. This was basically the reason it was only later on that i started using fb and insta-stuff, when a close friend and my best man threaten to fire me (we were working together at the time) or set me on fire with gin and tonic (this actually doesn’t sound so bad) because he couldn’t realise how can someone working in the advertising business not follow sm’s content. slowly but surely, I realized my fault and signed up but because i was having the Oh_my_everyone _is_going_to _get_all_my_personal_data syndrome, i used my old graffiti tag which was inspired by two legends, Frank Sinatra and Jack Daniels.
On second thought, Peponis (means mellon) Dimitris sounds much better and it is way more summery.
The furniture around the place looks great. How did you come to collect all of this?
Most of the furniture I had bought and repaired from “Paliosinithies” in Monastiraki like the green armchair next to the fireplace, while others I have found on the street or made from scratch. I have a studio in Halandri with two amazing people, Panos and Maria, called Formaika and it is an old carpentry where we do exactly this, painting, making furniture for friends while having some booze and listening to Sakis Rouvas (whoever has been to one of our parties, knows the feeling )
Does numbering the rooms around your apartment make you feel that life and perhaps the whole universe is in order?
I guess that is because of the designer’s or more specifically the art director’s obsessions that I carry. Ten years ago, at the time I was designing my home, everything had to be in order, the colors of the walls had to match the kitchen tiles and the shutters, the furniture had to be in either black or white colors, everything in a specific succession and that followed my whole life in a way that everything had to enter my comfort zone’s little boxes in order for me to operate. Eventually, that became quite tiring and I believe it forced me not to enjoy anything.
I can sincerely say that ten years later, I have changed a lot and I find it more interesting to be in a house where everything is not in any particular order but full of my friends, cooking, drinking and having a good time. This doesn’t change the fact that I remain a fucking control freak hahaha.
Is that also the secret reason behind your neatly folded T-shirts in your closet?
I just need them to be in order so that I can pick my outfit quickly while I run to be on time for the meetings at the office, but sincerely the secret here is that they are folded and arranged because I was expecting you to be here (hahaha) and Maria who helped me with the most of the folding.
What was the turning point that made you adopt Nefeli and how has your life changed since you two moved in together?
I guess last September changed my whole life. It basically screwed me a little and I did the whole “Papakaliatis” thing… I got divorced, changed job, changed my car and my house and at that time I found Nefeli. Actually two wonderful girls found her together with her four siblings in the garbage, I saw her on fb and I literally run to get her because she is truly the most beautiful, the most amazing and loving dog in the whole wide world.
It was quite hard in the beginning because even though i wanted to have a dog all these years, we never had one in my family but now it seems quite funny to remember all the times I was upset because I had to clean after her (it was a looot of cleaning for a little puppy). Even my parents who were not aboard with the idea of me having a dog and they were always saying that it will fill the house with dog hair, that I work long hours and all the stuff parents say, are acting like little kids when they see Nefeli now and whenever they call they are asking ‘how is Nefeli doing’ and then ‘how is our son doing’ hahaha! It is a full responsibility, it is like having a child I guess… she will break stuff by mistake, she will wake me up in the middle of the night and sometimes it is sooooo exhausting but at the same time it is the best thing that has happened to me in the last 35 years, she makes me a better person every day and she gives me so much love that I can’t be away from her.
That is why we are together all the time, in the office, at the bars in Halandri and even in presentations at work; she is with me all the time because she is my girl!
How does your work define your everyday life?
I work as the head of the creative team in a multinational advertising company. That by itself sounds tough in Greece of 2016, deadlines, customers, low budgets, marketing people, which can be a difficult case by itself! Pfff stress, tension, nerves. But no! For the last year, we have a team/family of fantastic people and we have set a goal of making Publicis great once again and everyday is like going in a playground for work. We might work long hours with neverending brainstorming sessions and meetings that bring you to your knees but at the same time, we are all in this together laughing, arguing, yelling, agreeing, we are taking a step back, understanding what goes wrong, we try to fix it and to make it better and in the end of the day, we are all happy drinking our gin.
I truly love this job so much because i have grown in it (I have been doing this for 15 years) and I think it teaches me something different or something incredible interesting every day like learning to be patient or from organising my chaotic thoughts to meeting people with great minds, smart and creative people for which i am incredibly proud, people that i want to be like someday.
The truth is that in a time of pressure, stress, failure, whenever i can’t get an idea, I have said 500 times that I will quit and leave this job but the next minute you have a new idea and everything is resolved, the champagne is out, your friends and your parents call you to say they watch it and they loved it, you might hear someone on the street singing the jingle you used and suddenly while looking each other with the rest of the team, you feel peaceful and great like being on top of the world until the next deadline which is in 15 minutes hahaha. That is how much the empire lives, it is quite a roller coaster situation but it also a great school for life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Are you one to complain about the current situation in Athens, but somehow seems to survive all this mess or would you say you’re the person who thinks things are actually changing for the common good?
I was raised in a family that tough me that I have to remain positive and smiling whatever’s the situation.
Things are tough and those who say that if we work hard, everything will change might be right but try saying that to a kid working all day for 500 euros, how will he have time to do other stuff, how can he be ok with himself, how can he feel creative and keep enjoying life. On the other hand, it is quite futile and stupid, complaining all the time without doing anything to change your life.
I really think that this situation made us rethink our culture and is making young people more creative, more independent and free from nepotism and from the stupid politics, more cooperative, trying their luck in new and innovative ideas and this is the positive result which takes time and tremendous amounts of patience and a little more love from everyone.
What keeps you from pursuing your career and surf goals in, say, Costa Rica?
If I say to someone that I don’t wanna go surfing in Costa Rica or staying live in New York or work in a big advertising agency in LA, they would say that I was going crazy or something, there are so many incredible places that I would like to experience, so many different cultures and civilisations, people, different food that blows my mind and make me want to go and book a ticket right now!
I love this place so much and the place is not Athens or Greece! It is the place where my friends and my family are and I couldn’t be away from them because whenever anything good or bad happens, there are always going be Giorgos, Nikos, Pantelis, Peter, Maria, Panos, Dimitris, Diogenes, Niki, Thanasis and Anna next to me to have a drink and eat something wonderful and everything becomes great once again and don’t even consider that Athens is sparkling and beautiful to me, even the nasty places have a concealed beauty. Ok, Playa Grande in Costa Rica is amazing but so is Vouliagmenis’ Avenue at 6.00 am before going to work hahahaha! No sorry Playa Grande does not compare; my mistake!
Cool, it’s been great talking to you. Please recommend your favourite place for some good food and a drink in town.
We cook, we eat and we drink a lot at home and you are welcome to come if you feel like it but whenever I go out I need to go somewhere where I can feel comfortable like being at home or somewhere to try new flavours.
I love going for tsipouro and ice cold beer especially after work (or even when at work) at “ta adelfia” in Halandri (also known as the “timio” because everyone deserves an honest “pasokiko” place…) where you can have the most exquisite grilled sardines, traditional meatballs like the one our grandmother used to cook for us and chicken chops with spicy pepper that make you go back to the pure age of our childhood years marked by the old good PASOK.
Furthermore, in Mistikos Kipos, also in Halandri where two divine beings called Mitsos and Sirios offer food by putting their love and hearts into it and have created tastes that have made me lose my mind. It seems like a simple taverna but you can have dishes that you would expect in the most expensive restaurants like wasabi with taramosalata that will blow your mind, fried giant beans with tomata garlic purée and will blow you away and black risotto with truffle and soft crab that will make you forget your name!
Whenever we go out for drinks with Nefeli, the first place we is Foti’s place, our own local pub in Ηalandri where you are teleported to Ireland.
After that, we visit Spiti coctail bar which is the place we end up every time. Dimitris Papaioannou, the owner is such an inspiring and creative guy that always prepares so many great stuff from music events, to new cocktails, to art happenings in the general area or in the bar. All of us going there feel at home and Nearhos, Panagiotis and the whole team behind the bar are always pleasant and hospitable and superb in general!
Thank you wonderful Nileta!