illustrator interview: Mike Karolos by Panagiotis Gournis

illustrator interview: Mike Karolos by Panagiotis Gournis

Mike Karolos by Panagiotis Gournis


About you:

-Location: Athens/ Greece
-Primary media: Illustration, Branding, Packaging
-Education: Graphic Design at AKTO
-Web site:



Gournis: What is art?
Mike Karolos :In my opinion anything can be considered as art. Everything around us, the trees, the animals, our bodies, it’s just a matter of a point of view. Anything that can make you stop for a second or two and make you look at it without just passing past it can be art. Art can be very detailed and hard to make, but it can be also an idea and something very simple but characteristic and mesmerizing.

Gournis: Your influences?
Mike Karolos: 
When i first started designing my main influences and actually the reason i started designing in the first place was graffiti. I liked how the city was one big canvas in my eyes. Growing up i have been influenced by Pop Art and the De Stijl movement. Patterns, colors and shapes are my fuel to my fire right now. Also a great inspiration source for me is music. 90% of the time i design listening to music.

Gournis:  Any project you wish to have been involved?
Mike Karolos: 
To be honest i can’t think of a specific project, but i know i often see great projects and think to myself it would be nice to be a part of it.

Gournis:  How do you manage to develop your own style?
Mike Karolos: 
One of my principals is no matter how busy you are with client work, either working at a design studio or as a freelancer you’ve got to find time to experiment and make personal fun projects. That way you can keep evolving your style and find new ways to keep the creativity flowing.


Gournis: The most important lesson in your education and why, (for example: the third law of newton, because …).
Mike Karolos: I think the first thing that comes to my mind is “don’t be afraid to get inspired”. Get inspired by everything around you, your life, music, friends, music, other artists, museums, trips, different cultures. There is no parthenogenesis in art but try to create your own style. Personally i’m still working on it.

Gournis:  Skills do you wish, you had been taught earlier in your career?
Mike Karolos: Nothing comes to mind. I think everything happened when it should of happened. No regrets there.

Gournis:  The most valuable piece of artistic advice you have ever received?
Mike Karolos: 
One good advice is that when stuck while designing don’t push it. Go for a walk, take a drive do something else to take your mind of it and when the time is right inspiration will come to you. I know what you are thinking… deadlines… well that’s another story.

Gournis:  Skills that you believe is most important for illustrators?
Mike Karolos: 
I’m not sure if i would call myself an illustrator. I’m more of a hybrid illustrator-graphic designer. Still the most important skill for an illustrator although i’m not sure if i would call it a skill, is to be a signature artist. To be recognizable by your style and clients to reach out to you because they want your specific style.

Gournis:  Personal weakness that had caused you the greatest difficulty in education or at work?
Mike Karolos: 
I think it’s always been my anxiety of time. Wanting to achieve goals i have in mind regarding design as fast as i can. It is a weakness beacuse it is easier to get dissapointed that way. But still… time is ticking.


Gournis:  Why its important for you, to be in this field?
Mike Karolos: I’ve known i wanted to be a designer since i was a kid. Especially from when i started to play around with graffiti. So you can say it’s a part of my life. It’s the way i express myself. Other people write music, poems, act, well i like to design.

Gournis:  Any words of wisdom that you like to share with us?
Mike Karolos: 
Never stop trying in what you believe in. Even when other people get you down that’s just another reason to get back up and proove what you can do.

Gournis:  Can you describe what your biggest challenge in a project?
Mike Karolos: 
My biggest challenge is the initial idea. Once i have the idea i will find a way to visualise it sooner or later.

Gournis:  You best time and your worst time as professional designer?
Mike Karolos: 
My best time is when a project comes to life and you see what you made out there. Of course when getting positive feedback that is a big plus. My worst, since what i do is not a hobby but what i do for a living is when your client or agency doesn’t pay for one reason or another.

Gournis:  Your most beloved art and your best selling art. Αm sure its not the same work. Am i wrong?
Mike Karolos: 
If i remember correctly my best selling art is an old graffiti artwork of mine “roots”  and my favourite right now is one of my latest from Abstract Portraits collection “Charlie Chaplin” Professional life


Gournis:  Describe your perfect client.
Mike Karolos: 
The perfect client gives you time, let’s you be as creative as possible and pays on time. Is that too much to ask?

Gournis:  What do you wish all clients knew?
Mike Karolos: I wish all clients knew that we do is not a hobby but a job. We live from it and pay our bills. Designing is not just pressing a few buttons in photoshop. Designing needs research, ideas, skills, software, sometimes talent and a lot of hard work.

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