George Christakis Interview
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born and grew up in Crete, a southern island of Greece. I lived there until my 18 and then I moved to Athens for studying Public Administration in Panteion University. During the years of my studies I raised my interest photography and then into digital art. I currently work as a photographer and photo editor for AirBnB and I do some other projects as well. When I do not create I like to read articles, go out with friends, go to cinema, or to do sports, like football or running. I was in athletics for more than ten years.
When did you first begin to make art?
It was during my studies that I decided to involve with photography. So I saved some money for a cheap DSLR camera. I didn’t have actual knowledge about how to taking pictures, but I had basic knowledge of how editing goes. Soon I started sharing some pictures on internet, and having interaction with other photographers. The problem was that, I had pictures into my mind that I couldn’t take with just my camera, some strange scenes. After looking for some pictures on internet I got excited about what you can do digitally. So, after spending enough weeks, searching alone into the software and tools I started to experiment and create my first pictures. There were simple compositions and technically not that good, but I started sharing them. People raised their interest, and I started to spend more time because this was the way I want to work with pictures. Since then I made a lot of images, and I can say that it’s a kind of mix of surreal and fine art.
When did you first start using Photoshop and how did you learn?
Photoshop was actually the fourth editing software I used. The first one was, as I remember, Microsoft Picture it. It was in my very early age, about 10, that I made my first editing steps. Second came GIMP and after this the CorelDraw. I made my first compositions with CorelDraw. It was after some months that I decided to just do Photoshop. Photoshop now is my main software. To the software I tried I was completely self-thought. Into my early steps, I would be happy if I knew how exactly to search what I was looking for, I mean tutorials, videos, but I didn’t know how. Hopefully after some time I discovered some tutorials in manipulation there were helpful enough to go on.
What inspires you?
A lot of things can inspire me. As I said in the past, music is a great source of inspiration. Kinds like post-rock or music without lyrics makes you think more clear. A sky can inspire me, the atmosphere, the lights and the colors of it. People around us can inspire me, their stories their words. Sometimes they have an impact. At last, other Photographers or digital artists are of course a big source of inspiration and a good way to find to rise your imagination.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Well, there are actually some many photographers or digital artists that I admire. It would be really difficult to remember and name all of them. Brooke Shaden is a great one. Great ideas, nice colors, lovely frames. Michal Karcz and Dariusz Klimczak have some extraordinary landscape and surreal pictures. George Grie, Adam Martinakis, and Rudolf Herczog have some remarkable digital works, a must look in my opinion if someone is interested into digital imaginary. There of course a lot of more artists to look at, or others that haven’t discovered yet.
What is your typical process when creating a piece of art?
Sometimes I start with an idea, sometimes I start with a totally blank mind. Even when I have an idea I tend to develop it different during the editing, and a lot of times I end up with a totally different result. It was only a few times that the final image was what I had actually in my mind first. Maybe I will always looking to develop an idea more, and that’s not bad, but you have to decide when your brainstorming ends, otherwise you may never finish what you started.
Where do you get your source materials from?
When I started, I used to search for some parts. I had my pictures and in order to complete some projects I looked for some parts that it would be difficult or impossible to find and shoot with my own camera. So, yes I have used some stock images to bring the results. However, I’ve limited this usage by time. The reasons are the limited usage or permissions of your image and a lot of times the quality of the stock pictures. It’s much better to have all your parts from your camera as RAW files than compressed Jpegs, especially in our case when we are talking about heavy processing. What I actually did, was to create the parts I can’t shoot with my camera, with 3D software. This is a field that I’m experimenting in too and I think you can make some amazing stuff if you know how to work them properly along with pure photographs.
What is your favorite Photoshop trick/method at the moment?
At the moment I’m experimenting with clipping masks and some filters inside the masks. I can’t say that this is my favorite though. I don’t really have a favorite method. It’s great to know enough methods that you can work, and sometimes, several different methods for the same process in case that the first one didn’t work well. There are so different processes you can handle with a few tools in Photoshop.
What is your favorite Photoshop tool or plugin at the moment?
I will say that I like to create gradients. You can use gradients to a several different cases. I use them to create a sky, a simple blue sky, or more gradients for a sunset-like sky. I use gradient to create shadows or lighting. Sometimes I’m experimenting with with gradients and the blending modes too.
What work of your own are you most proud of?
I’m not really proud of any of the pictures made by me. Every time I challenge myself to create something more excited, for me, but not always with great results. Sometimes I think that it will be better if I spent more time before decided that the editing stops here. Anyway, I like a lot the image titled “Weird Games”. I like the atmosphere there, the composition and the general idea of the picture. I tried to make it look as close as I had it in my mind.
What are you currently working on?
I currently have several different pictures, or projects, saved but they are all incomplete. I need to find enough time to sit and think how to finish them. There are several different techniques that are involved into them. Most of them have digitally created shapes or parts and photographs as textures. Some are complex enough.
What would you tell someone who is starting out making Photoshop art?
Pixels are pixels, you can visually create anything you want. Be patient and have some great effort.