Christina Christoforou – Interview
I have the pleasure to introduce you to Christina Christoforou. London based artist, designer and illustrator, she has given her time to answer our questions. The quality of her work caught my attention especially the “Whose Hair?” project. So It’s with pleasure that we show you her work…
Hi, how are you ?
Hello, nice to meet you, thank you for inviting me.
Tell us more about you. Who are you ?
I am an independent illustrator, designer and artist based in London since 2008, and I am originally from Athens, Greece. I studied graphics and worked as an art-director in advertising for ten years before deciding that I wanted to pursue something new and create my own work. Since I started, I have been commissioned for various projects, taken part in exhibitions with my personal work and published my first book. I like trying different things so I am not entirely sure what I kind of work I will be making in the future. If I had to put a title to what I’m interested in, I would say it’s story-telling in various forms.
At what time did you realise you wanted to become an illustrator ? What led you to do this work ?
To be completely honest, it wasn’t something I planned. I used to draw a lot as a kid but not much at all as an adult. Four years ago I was sitting in my office at the agency, with long hours ahead of me of work that was no challenge any more. I was bored and I needed some sort of escapism. That’s when I started drawing again, then I suddenly realised how much nicer life would be if I did that for a living. 6 months later I was back in London starting an MA in illustration. That was not as simple as I just put it!
I discovered your work through the book “Whose Hair”. How did you get the idea of drawing just hairs ?
That idea came at the beginning of the MA course, but it wasn’t something I spend much time on. My subject matter was rock-bands and identity. At some point I became interested in how memory works; how we tend to recognise things that we are emotionally attached to, even by one detail. To test this, I started drawing the hair of rock-bands and turned it into a guessing game/poster. This is where the book came from, years later, but Whose Hair is not only about the people in the book, it’s also about us and how affected we are by celebrity iconography that we are able to recognise people we never met just by looking at their hair.
How do you process in your work ?
I always think of single images as stories. I put images together piece by piece and without a very specific plan, a bit like a story that evolves. When I am commissioned for something, this process is a lot more controlled but in general I need to have a narrative in mind as a guide.
What inspires and influences you ?
I am inspired by human behaviour, that’s where all my ideas come from. I look for it in real everyday incidents but also in mythology and science fiction. Visually though, I am inspired by nature and organic forms in general, which is probably why the people in my images don’t always look very human. I like making surreal images out of real stories.
What does your typical day look like ?
It varies. I also teach graphic design so If I’m going to the university of Southampton, I have to wake up at 6 am which is always a shock to my system. If I’m going to the studio I wake up late and start the day slowly and I might even stop to have a coffee at Borough Market where the studio is before going in. Once I m there I just sit at my desk for ages until my neck is stiff, getting up only if it’s my turn to make the tea for the nice crowd of designers i share the place with. I like having people around, I can switch off and do my thing but I like the presence. Sometimes I go to the Natural History museum or the V&A to do some drawing or to the Southbank for people-watching and people-drawing.
Some projects to come ?
I am currently working on a book cover illustration and making some work for a group show in the summer. The title of the exhibition is Version 2 (this is the second one), because each of us has to make their own version of an image that another person from the group has made. Last time I thought it was fun trying to get into each other’s heads, so I’m looking forward to this show.
The last word…
Hmm, not sure how to end this! I feel like I need to say something significant, which doesn’t come to me! What I can say with certainty, is that creatively I feel like I am at the beginning of something, slowly finding my way. It’s a bit scary but very exciting.
Thank you very much!
/ Interview : Dennis Moya – May 2012 // All the illustrations are © Christina Christoforou.