It’s a difficult task to take something as widely familiar as the genre of graffiti and street art and give it a fresh, new spin. But that’s just what Greek artist Greg Papagrigoriou has managed to do. Greg caught our eye with his gorgeous typography and calligraphy-based street art that stands out, way out, in a sea of similar-looking neon tags and amateur scribbles.
His work is more evolved than most typical street art and is heavily influenced by calligraphy as opposed to the New York style of lettering that dominates the genre. This has spurred some bloggers and critics to refer to his work as “calligraffiti”, placing his work in a genre of its own right. His work is informed by both Western and Arab styles of calligraphy, which further contributes to the unique look of his letterforms. Papagrigoriou frequently collaborates with fellow Greek artist and School of Design graduate Simek under the joint moniker of Blakq. He doesn’t limit himself to street art and his work is in demand in the fine art and graphic design worlds as well.
A street artist since the early 2000’s, he studied Graphic Design at the School of Graphic Design in Athens and developed a keen interest in typography. His freelance work in painting and photography helped to shape his eye for composition, another thing that really helps his work stand out in a flooded genre. Papagrigoriou excels at creating a complete environment for his work, striving to place his art and lettering organically into spaces. For example, he may cover and entire dilapidated building while striving to keep the form and surface of the architecture in mind and incorporate it into the art, as opposed to a one-off building tag. The result is that you get the feel of a complete installation done by a true artist and master of his craft.
Here is what Greg had to say a few years ago about his own work:
“My first contact with letters began when I was a student at the School of Graphic Design in Athens. During this time, I discovered the area of typography, which progressively became the key piece of my interest and involvement. As the end of the school was approaching, I attended a workshop of calligraphy and this turned out to be one of the major motives that changed my way of thinking. From that point on, I started working mostly with hand and to experiment with different materials and surfaces including the wall. My experience with wall painting started about a year ago but somehow I was always attracted to graffiti. Within this framework, calligraphy provided the best opportunity for me to start bringing my ideas to practice and this is how I ended up combining the three, i.e. typography, calligraphy and wall painting. The letters on the wall I make are not intended to pass a message but they function as decorative elements – patterns on my compositions. What I really enjoy when I go out for painting is to collaborate with others because this allows the blending of different styles and the result is always different and more enriched than when working alone.”
So the next time you find yourself looking at some street art, or maybe are about to create some of your own, think of Greg’s work and let it remind you how beautiful and effective it can be to go outside the norm and push some boundaries. Taking the time to think about what can elevate and separate your work from the rest can often garner more successful results than going by the book alone.
See Greg’s Photostream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greg_papagrigoriou/
And check out his portfolio here: http://www.behance.net/GregPapagrigoriou