What does it take to be a successful illustrator in this day and age? Just ask the up-and-coming Spiros Halaris. Is it because of his graphic design degree at Middlesex University? Is it because of his unique style that cleverly mixes elements of high fashion and deep human emotions? Or maybe it has to do with the amazing collaborations and freelance work he has conducted for an impressive client list including Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, and Topshop. Through his work with others and his own exhibits (having just recently shown in London and Brussels), Spiros makes his mark through a relentless ability to be inspired by different mediums and an eagerness to collaborate with talented artists.
When did you first become interested in graphic design and illustration?
I began my degree in graphic design about three years ago. It was during this period that I discovered illustration. At first, I was only aware of graphic design and I would look at illustrations without being aware that illustration on its own was a separate field with many possibilities. It wasn’t long before I had decided that illustration was something that attracted me and I wanted to do. So after finishing my degree in graphic design, I moved to illustration and then to fashion illustration and other related fields.
For people who do not know much about graphic design and illustration, can you tell us a little about the difference between the two?
Yes, I think people often confuse the two just as I once did. It’s because you usually find them combined which is actually something I prefer because illustration is like the commercial side of fine art or art itself. It’s actually commissioned imagery or commissioned art usually for the purpose of advertisement. That’s where graphic design comes from. It’s like graphic design is used for branding, identity, advertising or for any other reason. There are many times when illustration comes in and the two blend together. The difference is that illustration could come on it’s own. It can be printed hard and it can be like a piece of art that can be turned into graphic design. Graphic design is a form of visual communication and it can be deconstructed and set apart. In the modern world, we can see graphic design work being considered art in modern museums. But in my mind, I see graphic design as being more practical than illustration, which can be fine art or art itself.
So how does your work specifically combine both graphic design and illustration?
For example, I really like art illustration which is hand crafted or looks like it was made on a canvas or can be transferred to graphic design. I think it’s a combination of working with graphics and illustration at the same time and acknowledging the relationship between the two and the visual result you get out of it.
Your work is so original! Can you tell us where you draw your inspiration from? Are there any other artists out there who influence you?
Yes. While studying I looked up different kinds of artists from completely different fields — from anime, graffiti, fine art as well as art movements. It was much later that I discovered fashion illustrators and illustration within fashion which is actually a distinct field that I was never aware of. There are many artists out there who will say that they are inspired by folk music or some specific genre but I’m really into many different things. I could be inspired by a really nice hip hop song or some Bauhaus art piece that I had seen in a gallery, so my inspiration comes from many different places. But as far as fashion is concerned, I think it comes from a lot of the visual artists that exist in fashion and from seeing fashion from a more conceptual background and recognizing the individual fashion artists. That’s a big part of where I draw my inspiration from.
What was it like working for a big name such as Alexander McQueen?
Working for Alexander McQueen was the biggest venture for me. It was really exciting. I’d call it hardcore because it was one my highest goals to go and work for Alexander McQueen. When I actually made it, I realized just how difficult this is and how everything runs 24/7. High the expectations are for everything, from the designers and the people that sew the garments to everyone else. At the same time it was really inspiring to work there; it was an absolute mecca of creativity. But as far as the work and the expectations are concerned, it was a bit of a wake-up call for me to work in such a big fashion house. It’s definitely an experience that I constantly relive and refer back to.
You have so many different works. Do you have any particular favorites?
Hmm, well most people tell me they really like the “Complicated” pieces. They feature two women in two different backgrounds on the sides. When I started working as an illustrator these comprised one of my early projects. To this day, I will go to an interview and these pieces will stand out even though I did them almost three years ago. They became one of my favorite pieces because I created them as a means to explore illustration and where I can go and what I can do with it. Sometimes, I will be working on a new piece and I will remember these pieces from three years ago and I will look back at them and see the way that I did things. But the inspiration comes from my desire to express movement and a fluid feeling from an illustration which is something I had never done before. So these are definitely two of my favorite pieces.
Lastly, can you please tell us how Daily BR!NK readers may contribute to your success?
I would love them to join my Facebook page which I always update and I will be doing various illustration contests during the summer so they can definitely join me there. I’m also always looking out for new collaborators and new projects. I am definitely asking creative individuals and artists to hit me up with an email or a comment on my Facebook page or my Twitter. I’m looking to collaborate. I already did a collaboration with Jennifer Lilya who you featured a couple of weeks ago and I’m looking to do more.