…As Saul Bass said: I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.
Stavros Damos was born in Thessaloniki, where he studied graphic design at the AAS College of Art & Design. Stavros specializes in illustration, and has been developing a recognizable style since he was in high school. His clients are primarily advertising agencies, publishing houses and magazines. In his spare time, he continues to find new ways of working which helps him to further distinguish from the crowd. His love for the arts is what gives him the strength and fuels the optimism that he holds for the future.
How did you first get into illustration?
My father is a painter, so I grew up surrounded by art. My childhood revolved around drawing. I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator. The thought of being something else never crossed my mind. As Saul Bass said… “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”
How has your background influenced your work?
I’ve had an interest in the arts, and especially in drawing for as long as I can remember. I’ve been learning to illustrate since I was a child, and by the time I was a teenager I had developed a personal style. I enjoy drawing with traditional tools – watercolors and colored pencils – even if most of my work is done digitally.
Bob Dylan – An award winning poster
How would you describe the biggest influence on your way of making art?
As you can see, my illustrations are filled with expressive lines, as well as that, there’s grunge textures. My influences include many of the great masters of past times: Albrecht Dürer, Franklin Booth, Gustave Doré, J. C. Leyendecker, and Norman Rockwell.
Please, take us through your design process, where do you start?
I prefer to create illustrations with a graphics tablet in Adobe Photoshop. It allows for more control over the illustration, and It is quicker. I’ve got various custom brushes that I use in my illustrations, and a lot of grunge textures that I favor when paired together with certain blending modes. I start off with the basic shapes of the face, focusing on the facial expression. I then move onto the color palette. I see it from the perspective of a sculptor, creating dimension in faces and illustrating them with line art. All in all, I am always trying to achieve a somewhat three-dimensional look.
Willie Nelson (commissioned by The Washington Post)
Where should a person start if he or she wants to pursue a career in this field?
The best way to start a career as an illustrator is to build a portfolio, and an impressive one at that. It’s almost guaranteed to help you find your first clients. There are many great networks on the Internet – like Behance – that give you a means to create a nice portfolio. Atop that, there are various magazines that might’ve been willing to publish your works. In overview, a portfolio is the most important thing, both clients and art galleries will ask to see the works in order to have a clear idea. It doesn’t have to be commissioned work, especially if you are young. Work with themes that you find inspiring.
Jimi Hendrix – A personal work
Is studying illustration at an art school worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?
Attending an art school is always a good idea, if you can afford to cover the expenses. I believe that an artist must continuously look for new ways of doing things, and an art school most certainly offers that.
Do you meet up with other creatives in person?
I have many friends who’re working in the creative fields in Greece. Most of them are graphic designers and illustrators. We meet up from time to time and discuss our work. I wish I had the opportunity to meet more artists in person.
Johnny Cash – Digital sketch in Photoshop
What is your working environment like?
My working environment is quite messy. There’s a large desk with stacks of paper, around that there’s various drawing materials as well as a few books. Of course, there’s the computer. Every once in a while I clean the studio, but unfortunately it never stays like that for long.
Keith Richards – (The Rolling Stones illustrated by Stavros Damos)
What genre of music do you listen to when you work?
I listen to Jazz music whilst working, I especially like jazz standards. It is a very important part of my daily routine. I usually wake up at eight in the morning, making coffee whilst listening to Jazz Radio. It is a great way to start off the day!
I’ve always enjoyed learning instruments in my spare time, it is a hobby I’ve had for a while now. I can play piano and guitar. I learn in my spare time.