Athina Pappa is a young conceptual artist and illustrator born in Greece and now living in England. I am quite confident you will hear more about her in the future and The non-hip hippies are very happy to share her interview with you.
You can find samples of Athina’s work here.
1.Athina, you have studied architecture in Greece, then worked as a textile designer and now you live in Birmingham, UK and you work as a conceptual artist and illustrator while attending a master’s degree in visual communication. Were these steps all planned ahead or did you shift your educational work on the way? How did it all happen?
Hi there! Well I only chose architecture because frankly I didn’t know what to study. I wanted to study a little bit of everything and architecture seemed to incorporate many disciplines; the choice for the greedy. Although I’ve always kept in my mind that I will pursue something more artistic after my degree, I was really determined about that. I got lucky with textile design because I didn’t plan it, it just happened. The owner of the agency approached me after viewing my work somewhere on the internet and I was offered a job. So, it was actually a smooth transition from construction design to illustration.
2.I can imagine that with this background, you have many different influences and sources of inspiration. Can you name your favorite architect, photographer, painter, contemporary visual artist, sculptor, film director, writer and musician?
Yes the list is endless and it keeps growing, I love these people.
architect: Frank Lloyd Wright. Bold and experimental but always kept the quality and personal style intact.
photographer: David LaChapelle. He’s taken pop and kitsch to another level, his work is luxurious, decadent and highly conceptual.
My favorite painter..that’s a tough one. I have to go with Dali, I wouldn’t exactly hang his work in my living room but I am so glad he existed.
contemporary visual artist: Mark Ryden . He is painting the surreal, the incoherent, the ‘new religious’ in a post modern context.
sculptor: Ranjani Shettar. Poetic, dreamy, amazing.
film director: Tarantino for the win.
writer: Oscar Wilde. Genius and ahead of his time.
musician: the Knife. They are raw and complex.
3. You managed to get away from Greece during the crisis. Did you have difficulties adapting to a new country and a new culture? What were/are the biggest challenges that you are faced with, when it comes to living abroad?
Yes I am a fugitive! The truth is I was familiarized with English culture long before I came to live here so I didn’t really spend a day to adapt. I was at home. But this doesn’t mean there are no challenges when you exit your country/culture. The most difficult thing is the linguistic/cultural frame that you miss sometimes. A certain joke that doesn’t translate or a reference that almost lies in your dna but no one can understand.
4.You got featured in Splash of Red, where your bio says that “she defines her style as philosophical pop and cross-cultural fusion”. Can you explain what this means?
I think that philosophy is a taboo term. Everyone is allowed to say I love basketball or I love ice creams or even I love opera. But when someone says I love philosophy people get suspicious. Personally I do love philosophy, always did and for me it’s not a cold academic scary term, is who we are and what we say and what we like. Anything we do artistically or not artistically has links to certain theories and notions. The only difference is I enjoy discovering these links and I enjoy being aware of the conceptual fields that clash and create my point of view. Now to link a heavy term like philosophy to a very misinterpreted term like pop, that’s what I find challenging. It is like trying to bring the opposites to merge as pop culture has been accused of being shallow and silly. I completely disagree with this notion. I believe that these opinions derive from a deep conservatism that is hard to shake. I am just trying to build a bridge through my work . Pop culture has cross cultural references anyways so I only add the feature to emphasize that I am really open to a vast variety of references.
5.In many of your collages and illustrations you use self portraits as the basis. Is it more a way to explore or to express yourself? Or is it just due to lack of willing models?
No lack of models no haha. My friends are fun to work with. Using myself as the subject is definitely part of self exploration. I mean take modern psychology, one of the basic statements is that you need to understand yourself before attempting to understand the others. And it’s the hard part really. I do believe that Narcissus is a very misunderstood personality.
6.You are very young but have already taken part to exhibitions and last summer you even had an exhibition of your own, called Colour Dipoles. What advise do you have to give to young artists who want to expose their work to a wider audience? Is it a matter of networking? And how can social media help with that?
Well the only thing that matters is practice. You need to keep practicing and make the work look the way you want it. After that yes being social is very important and sometimes it is hard because many artists tend to have a very reserved and anti social side. Nevertheless, networking and the use of social media is necessary in order to broaden your audience.
7.In your work, you use lots of bright colors, neon shades and child-like sketches. Are you naturally a positive personality or are you actively trying to fight the darkness and misery around you with your work?
Hmmm, people who are close to me know how much of a pessimist and dark person I am. However , I am also a fighter. I mean you have to fight that. I guess my artwork is my super ego/ alter ego extension and that girl is fearless hehe.
8.In your facebook page, among your mixing references, you refer to second wave feminists. Do you define yourself as a feminist? Why/Why not?
I do define myself as a feminist (3rd wave myself). I mean really, what else is there?? Feminism is much more of a taboo word than philosophy, it scares and confuses the hell out of people. It even irritates them but when you ask why, they don’t have a clue. Ignorance that’s why and as a friend of mine said ‘ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is filth’. But to get back to feminism, it is a sad sore subject. Women get harassed, raped and killed by the minute in all cultures all around the world (just look at the statistics). They get paid less for the same amount of work and they face various unimagined-for the opposite sex- difficulties. And the worst part? Many of them regardless of their education and background fail to realize that. So yes, bona fide feminist fighting to raise awareness.
9.Again in your references, Japan meets Greece. An exotic land of the east and your homeland. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? Traveling around the world, looking for new sources of inspiration in different cultures or back in Greece, enjoying the climate, the food and the love of your friends and family?
Japan is the Mekka of the eccentric, I really wanna go see how these guys are doing…10 years? I don’t know but my holy triangle-I mean aside from Greece- is England, France and the U.S. anywhere there and I will be fine, missing the climate etc of course.
10.Can you disclose to us what projects you are currently working on and what is your dream project?
I most certainly can. Currently I m working on an ID concept creating a series of characters that reflect different notions/identities. The ultimate goal is to form a narrative combining these characters, form some kind of structure (see? architecture sneaks in everything). My dream project would be to form a structure entirely made of illustrations that would transcript a theory. In other words replace if possible a passage, a text with images that would be precise and equally communicative.