Day 30 – Danai Gkoni
Danai Gkoni is a digital collage artist from Athens, Greece. She works on personal art projects but also as illustrator by commission. Her personal work usually deals with the city as a bipolar terrain, memories and aspects of the human condition. Through her collages she instinctively narrates surreal and sometimes dystopian stories.
Are you a self taught artist, or what studies did you do to get where you are today? I did not study art. I am an architect and that is how I got into constructing images, I had to make concept collages for my building projects. I think some of this influence is still obvious in my artworks.
What tools, programs and apps do you love or cannot live without?
For the illustrations I use mainly Photoshop and sometimes Illustrator. In general I work with most of the usual design programs and I also use the social media for promoting the artworks. I like digital work but lately I miss working with my hands.
Your art provides inspirations to so many others. What or who inspires you?
I guess ideas come from everyday life. I get some material from the cities I walk in, the streets, the buildings, the people. It can also be something I read, a piece of music or a film, other designers’ work, images I find on the internet. Or a research on the concept if it is a comissioned piece. I never know where this leads me though, until I put things down on a virtual paper.
Can you describe your process including how long a piece of art or photography takes you from concept to complete?
That’s tought to say. It can be a couple of days, but I got draft ideas that are there unfinished for years. For commissioned work things are usually easier, there’s a brief. If it’s a personal project, the process is quite hard, I have some notes and a library of images. I collect images all the time. Actually, when I start making a collage I don’t have the slightest idea about the result. I can move things around for hours and still not get satisfied from the composition. For me it is all about the composition, which is something that works in a subconsciously automatic way.
What part of your process do you love the most?
At a certain point, pieces click together and I can see that’s it. Then I get the image and just work on the details. That’s the best part of the process, then the enthusiasm begins. But before that it is a quite desperate procedure for me, I put in and throw away many layers, I feel it is not going anywhere. Amazingly enough, most of the times it is going somewhere. Not that I love all of my work equally, I question a lot of it. But the moment I decide to present an image I feel at least that it is rather complete in terms of composition.
If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing for work?
I like a lot of things in the broad field of design, I want to dig more into that. Also I could use my hands to make something – although I’m not especially good in manual work, I know people far better than me. I could be a cook, or a carpenter, or making clothes. But what really matters to me is to work collectively, to work in a team and get a collective product.
Who is the most fascinating or inspiring person you have met or worked with?
I don’t have a role model if that’s what you mean. I’ve met people who I admire their intellect, sure. I also know quite talented people in arts or in whatever they do. What I find attractive in a personality is the perception of society and human relationships, the political understanding of life.
Name an underrated artist
I cannot think of someone at the moment. But I’ve seen fantastic stuff from street artists which I don’t even know their names.
What artwork of yours are you most proud of?
I think the ‘Urban Crisis Resort’ collages are my most personal. They are five pieces inspired by Athens, quite dark but colorful. I also like a lot the Icarian Falls illustrations.
What’s next in the professional pipe works for you?
I work on illustrations and graphic design every free hour I get, that is tough for me because I got a main job as an architect. These days I’m working on a series of digital prints on marble coasters. And I’m also organising a small shop in Athens together with 11 others designers to be able to sell our pieces in a physical space.
Bonus Fun Questions
What is your pet peeve? Indecisiveness and cynicism maybe.
What is your current favourite album? It’s been years I stuck with one entire album, since ‘The Suburbs’ by Arcade Fire.
Apart from art, what is your favourite thing to do? Going out with friends.
Websites and Socials:
Images courtesy of Danai Gkoni © Danai Gkoni