Maria Papaefstathiou – founder of Graphicart-News
Maria Papaefstathiou is a graphic designer and illustrator from Athens, Greece, currently working as a book designer with Stamoulis Publications S.A. She co-founded the International Reggae Poster Contest in 2011 and founded an international design blog called graphicart-news in 2010. For the blog Maria thoughtfully curates high quality designs, illustrations and art, from all over the world with a main focus on young designers, photographers and illustrators as well as known professionals in fields that teach and inspire younger designers.
Maria also focuses much of her personal research on social activist poster design. Maria has recently embarked on a series of poster designs celebrating Greek traditional and popular culture including actors, singers and musicians, specially those performing Rebetiko and Laiko music.
A GDW Interview with Maria Papaefstathiou
GDW: Will you describe some of the activist work you have designed for? Is there a specific cause that you hope to design for in the future?
MP: My very first attempt to design for social issues was in response to the big earthquake in Japan, in 2011. This was the beginning of a new world for me. After this, I designed for poverty, for the Seoul, Korean Ferry tragedy, on 16 April 2014, rape, education, clean water, sports, Nelson Mandela, portraits on music like reggae and rebetiko (urban Greek folk music) and, lately, for awareness of breast cancer, freedom of expression, the right to vote and others.
There are many other issues I would like to design for, but what my heart wants is one day to have no social issue to design for but only positive beautiful designs for a wonderful new world… No war, no racism, no sicknesses, no poverty… What weird dreams I have, right?!
I would definitely like to continue my series on the subjects of rebetiko and reggae music.
GDW: How did you first become involved in graphic design and graphic design blogging?
MP: That goes way back to my childhood. I always loved to draw. Since I was a kid. When I grew up and had to decide about my future work and what to study, I knew that there was only one choice. Graphic design was not so popular at the time in Greece, so I was looking for any kind of job that would allow me work in the field of design. And I found it in graphic design. Since that time, years passed but my dream was not fulfilled, since I always had to design according to my job’s needs. When I realized that this should change, I decided to start my own blog. One that would gather in one space all those designs I loved so much. Not that there were no other blogs on the Internet, but this was something that would make me feel alive again…
GDW: Your design work is bold and rich in color. You work in a number of formats ranging from poster art, type design, and book cover design, not to mention your curatorial work for your blog and the management of an international Reggae Poster Contest. How do you divide your time and attention to these varied interests?
MP: Thank you! I am very happy to hear that. Everything is a matter of love. If you love something very much you can find the time. And as a mother of two adorable children, I have many more duties that one cannot see. The truth is I don’t sleep too much but I enjoy every second of all these occupations.
GDW: Since this interview is specifically for a blog about graphic design women, I feel the need to ask if you think there is a different aesthetic to work created by women designers? Do you think this aesthetic might be visible in your own work?
MP: I would say yes. Definitely. Much research has been conducted on the subject, trying to understand “why”. We women usually design based on our perception of the world and human beings. We grow up girls with different aesthetics than boys’. From the clothes we wear, the color choices, the games we play and the movies or cartoons we watch. This can create in the minds of girls different perceptions than those of boys; and so girls will produce different designs. There is also a mysterious way in which gender is manifested in specific fields of design. For example, [I think] females are better at designing books and men dominate web design. And women have different aesthetics in their clothing than men.
I don’t know if this is something visible in my work. I hope not. As a matter of fact, I prefer men’s clothes. I was always a tomboy so I hope my designs are also like that. 🙂
GDW: What work of yours are you most proud of? Will you explain and describe your thought process for this work?
MP: That’s a difficult question to answer. I am not proud of any of my designs. I am always trying to come up with that one design that would be unique… Nevertheless, my favorite ones are those inspired by cubism with a sense of futurism. I was always in love with the cubist art movement with my favorites being Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. So I study them a lot and try to put that aesthetic in my posters. My football posters were influenced by cubism, using circles. Also a personal artwork named “Solitude”. Then there’s the poster on rape, and several others. I think my best designs are about breast cancer awareness, freedom of expression and the right to vote. For the breast cancer awareness poster , I used circles. All circles should meet and form a woman’s body. The breast was represented in circles too. Circles of life and vitality. For the posters on freedom of expression and the right to vote, I used the same face since I believe those issues are closely related in their deeper meaning.
GDW: Your blog GraphicArt-News.com is very successful not only in Greece but also internationally. Congratulations! Do you have any recommendations on how to develop an audience for a blog? Do you have some favorite blogs or accounts that you follow? How do you use these resources?
MP: Thank you very much! It’s amazing. My blog is successful in countries such as the US, the UK, Germany, Iran and Mexico. I think the best way to develop an audience is to give readers beautiful content that they will love and share in many portals or social networks. You have to love other artists’ work and help them promote it. They will help you as well. My main reason for doing this blog is to share the work of others in this vast community of design. There are amazing talents out there looking for an opportunity… Why not give them a chance!
I don’t have any specific blog that I follow. One big resource I have is Behance from which I get many ideas for my articles.
Recent work by Maria Papaefstathiou
A book cover design for “Carla Rising” by Topper Sherwood and album cover design for Puma Ptah (Christopher Smith).
Maria has exhibited and been awarded special recognition in international group shows including:
– South Korea, by Green+You curated by Byoung Won Choi, (posters for Japan’s Earthquake)
– Jamaica, Athens and Thessaloniki Greece, Mexico, Washington and Spain by the International Reggae Poster Contest.
– Turkey by the “Innovation for Education” competition in Turkey, (posters for the Right for Education)
– Cape Town and Johannesburg by the Nelson Mandela Poster Project.
– Poland, in Gliwice at the Ruins of Victoria’s Theatre for the 10th International Festival “Jazz w Ruinach.”
Click here for more on Maria Papaefstathiou.