Giorgos Makrakis is a guy who was friends with me on Facebook. But he lived, he still does, in beautiful Heraklion, so he was that kind of friend that is a friend, but you’ve never seen in real life. That is until I got invited to speak at Pecha Kucha Heraklion. Giorgos was doing the graphic design for the night, he was also a major help in organizing the whole thing and the brains behind the marvelous bunny face for the poster. I loved the poster. I loved all the things Giorgos was creating. Still do. So, the moment Pecha Kucha was finished, in between raki shots and chit chats, I told him we should do an imatiothiki session the following morning. Yes, it was going to be hard, but I had to see what he was up to and I had to see the city. So here you go: a small tour around Heraklion starring Giorgos, as the bunny or just himself, and his amazing My Greece T-shirts.
What made you decide to come back home? Was it hard at first?
The idea of moving back was stuck in my head long before I decided to actually do it. The vastness of Athens made it hard to retain personal relationships. Plus I had so much work, there was no time to meet up with friends. Every time I came back to Crete I had this feeling of belonging, like my whole life was here. Of course coming back home is never easy! Time passed and lots of brainstorming in between, in order to bring my business to the point and level I wanted it to be. My beloved friends were there for me, supporting every step I took, making things a whole lot easier.
How can a small city like Heraklion make the creativity process better?
Life here is so calm and stress free. It’s the fact that everything’s running at a normal speed, that makes you free to express yourself any way you want. Creativity is no longer something stressful that needs to be done on certain time schedule, rather something that makes helps you escape.
You’ve recently started your own T-shirt brand called made in Greece and I have seen a lot of links to the past your designs. How important is tradition in your work and how do you contemplate with heritage when designing? What is the new traditional and what would the new souvenir look like?
Tradition is something rooted deep inside all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. Crete is a land where all this is still so vivid and alive. Cretan tradition, history and even the Cretan way of living… you see it everywhere. As for the souvenirs, well, they usually come with tons of bad taste and lack of inspiration. That’s the main reason I try to create something new, a brand new way of looking at souvenirs, brand new aesthetics attached to them, so that even a Greek would be find interest in them.
What’s happening right now in Crete, that we should know of?
Young creative people that have come back home are full of energy and will to share beautiful things with Heraklion’s inhabitants. People who have gained experience and are filled with ideas are actually forming the city. Pecha Kucha, for example, is an international project, that is also held here. Through this, the people of Heraklion have come to realize the importance of their participation in the local community. Invisible City is another project that is also very important to our city. Houdetsi Festival, P_public in Chania. You see, there’s a lot of activity going on in Crete right now. Amazing things are taking place and the will continue to do so in the future, for as long as the young are passionate about creating new things and aiming towards success.
You are the master of Instagram. In just one day you got 80.000 followers. What are the ingredients of a good picture? Do you think twice before posting on your account?
My Instagram account started as a joke between friends. Now, it’s my personal photo diary, where I capture moments I relate to. The fact that a lot of people liked the way I express myself through Instagram is something that makes me happy. If my pictures stopped being something that amuses me, then I guess people would stop being interested in them. The ingredients of a great photo? I have no idea! I’ll tell you this: my favorite pictures are not the ones that got liked! the most.
What made you jump from computer design to actual print through your project My Greece? How easy was it to start your own brand? Any plans for the future?
Life is never one dimensional. When I realized there’s nothing new regarding the image of Crete, something that would respect the past and would deal with the present head on, I decided I should do something about it, something that would represent my way of looking at things, which is mostly optimistic, and my sense humor. I have no idea what My Greece is going to evolve to in the future, because it’s still a baby. There are lots of ideas and lots of will, so that’s good enough for the days to come.
When I visited your office I was stunned by all the Playmobils you own. What’s the deal with all of them? Where exactly are you going to take them in your photo project?
Okay, this may sound weird, but the Playmobil decide where they should travel. They just act on their own. They follow their own will and fight the human preppyness and logic. It’s simple: they wink at me, they chose the location they feel mostly at home and off they go.
So, all in all you are a graphic designer, who collects Playmobil dolls and lets them lead him to place and you have your own T-shirt brand, which is actually a souvenir brand, called My Greece. Is that all? Is there something else you are doing right now?
Haha, well it’s obvious I am going through a really creative phase right now. Apart from my contribution and collaboration in various city projects, I was excited to work with N. Kazantzakis publishing house for the design of the book cover of one of Kazantaki’s unpublished theatrical plays, called “Ξημερώνει”.
A few comments on the things pictured and said above:
I would like to state that Giorgos promised to send me a rooster, not just any rooster, but a badass rooster as a gift for this photo shoot. Now you know. Now I can claim the rooster legally. Hahaa! / He is the best cruiser on a scooter. Despite the heat, the lack of sleep and the level of exhaustion, he drove me to all the magnificent places Heraklion has to offer. These would be the Power Plant Factory, Nikos Kazantzaki’s grave, a wonderful park and his office. / In the park, Giorgos was a bit shy to pose for me, so the bunny mask was worn by Johh from Coo. / Oh, the bunny mask is actually the mascot for Pecha Kucha Heraklion Vol.4 / All T-shirts worn on this photo shoot are from My Greece.