Interview for +design magazine (a Greek mag about design and applied arts). The interview was published in issue 43 (November 2005).
“THE IDEA CHOOSES THE WAY IT WILL BE EXPRESSED”
When he was fourteen years old he started “disturbing” newspapers, magazines and creative offices, presenting his work. Comic strips, illustrations,comic fanzines.Today he is being disturbed from the same publications to give them his work.At the same time he never stops creating for his own pleasure.
Vassilis Gogtzilas was born in Thessaloniki in 1978 and grew up in Evosmos.His family encouraged him and supported from his early age his decision to study design,although they didn’t know much of Art.
“ my parents are very talented.They manage well with whatever they decide to deal with”.
It’s actually a fact that when he was little he was surrounded by all kinds of magazines with illustrations, caricatures,fummeti and comics. This is how he started visiting all the relevant places,when he was a teenager, mainly because he wanted to have an aquaintance with the field he wanted to deal with. People from the field were very encouraging so when time came he studied Graphic Design. “This kept me studying the field of Arts”-he says. “Except from my skilled knowledge in printing, it was really important to me to deal with things I am interested in. Anyway, doesn’t everything derive from art?”
His first work material was comic strips and illustrations for newspapers,magazines and comics fanzines. Then there was a period of cooperation with Makedoniki Publications,whose printed forms he has been reading since he was a little boy mostly for its political cartoonists,who had actually gained his interest.
“Everyday publications in the newspaper Thessaloniki, was a really valuable experience for my further knowledge” Vassilis Gogtzilas says “as I could see my illustrations printed in a daily basis and I had the chance to experiment all the time”. At the same time he had a cooperation with the magazine “Epiloges” (Choices) that it’s being published for almost 5 years now. Also a very important thing was his occupation with the animation for the show “On Wheels” for Greek Channel 3 (ET3).
VISUAL MATERIAL INSTEAD OF WORDS.
Vassilis Gogtzilas can work with anything that has to do with images, but what he loves the most is to draw his ideas on paper with Indian ink. In his work he can easily move from drawing to making comics. “I believe there is only one design” he says. “The idea chooses the ways it’s going to be expressed. There are thoughts that can be expressed in a very simple way, like a drawing, others more artistic and there are others that can develop in a story, to gain time, space and rythem. You can make them come true by drawing either with pencil or a pen, or by using color, collage, found objects or even a computer”.
Vassilis Gogtzilas is trying to approach every piece of work differently by trying new styles, combinations and materials. This is a way to keep not only the readers’ interest alive but his as well. “This way I can test my limits but also the potentials of illustration as a mean of visualization and communication”.
The text is very important to him and he always reads it before he starts illustrating it.This is a way to understand the writer’s point of view. Now as far as his part is concerned, sometimes he chooses to express the ideas as they appear in the text and some other times he prefers to let the picture develop in its own way or go along with the text,expressing his ideas. “I array a subject with images exactly like in the written texts. I just replace words with images. The result would be the same if a picture didn’t have this incredible power…”
Finally illustrating means…
“Illustrating ( and comics if we accept that a comic is an extension of illustrating) is a visual mean of communication with unlimited possibilities.It manages to combine styles of all kinds of arts, expressing the most complicated ideas,messages and emotions.Illustrating must not be a text’s supplement or ornamental.I believe it should be chosen for all those communication possibilities that can actually offer”.
GREEK COMICS IN IMMOBILITY
Vassilis Gogtzilas is printing and exhibits his work by any mean, any time, all year round as he thinks this is the only way to become better and better everytime. However, he deliberately publishes his private comics in fanzines only.He writes the scripts, although he has sometimes co-operated with other scriptwriters. Apart from his personal work, he has illustrated comics, like the first issue of a football comic named “Dynamite” but also the advertising comic book Deniman through the creative office Red Creative on behalf of Hellenic Fabrics. This last one won the Most Ingenious Marketing award on the first contest of DNR Textile Awards of the American Magazine DNR.
His favourite works is this of Egon Schiele,Robert mcGinnis, Robert Raushenberg and Ralph Steadman.
As far as the greek comics are concerned,Vassilis Gogtzilas believes that is in immobility for many decades now “We can talk about greek comics only when the artists in this country will have been elevated from obscurity. This few efforts from time to time can not be translated as a stream or development as there have been many efforts in the last decades but with no results at all. As in my opinion of course, reprinting foreign comics into greek is not helpful at all.In all those countries that comic did bloom was because of the artists and the work they presented”.
Thessaloniki is a rather difficult city for an illustrator to live in. But despite all that Vassilis Gogtzilas is really moving into the field really easily, mostly because he uses many styles and this serves many different needs. From time to time he prefers to deal with his own,more artistic approaches in several subjects. This is basically why he works as freelancer, as he needs more personal time. He can also be open to any job offer.
Would his potentials be different if he lived in Athens?
“I believe that Thessaloniki is a city with many creative ideas and I am not sure if I would be able to find in Athens the same projects that I have worked on here”. For the use of colors,Vasilis Gogtzilas says that it is another way to work on an idea. He can use it really easily wherever it is required.
Illustration and Comics. Indispensable living and hobby?
“I never do something only for living reasons.I love both illustrating and comics the same.Each one gives me a different way to develop”.