Yorgos Sgouros is a freelance visual artist based in Athens, Greece
He always liked to draw imaginary worlds and create his pictures using both traditional and digital media.
At the beginning of the new millennium he started working professionally as an illustrator and sometimes as an author as well. He has illustrated over 100 books including children’s books, fairytales, fiction, nonfiction, educational books and many more.
The “Toddler Bible” published in 2007 for Anno Domini Publishing was his first international book. It has already been translated in 15 languages.
“Turn and Learn Stories of Jesus” was the second book for the same editor.
In 2011 he illustrated the music book “The Magic Flute”. A unique collaboration between Athens and Montreal. with the participation of two children’s choirs and the Ensemble Sinfonia de Montreal.
Designing a new character is a special part of his work. Some of his favorite heroes are already here…most of them, however, are in his mind and anxious to meet you!…
Here is Yorgos discussing his process:
“First of all I begin with a rough layout of the picture….or rather many rough layouts!
Usually I sketch many different rough drawings before stepping up to a final pencil. Although color is the most attractive part this first stage is the most creative one…
So my quote is that you may be creative even at the very end!
How long have you been illustrating?
I started illustrating professionally almost sixteen years ago.
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
My first commission was my story, too! It was a small educational fairytale about notes and music.
Where did you study art?
I studied at Technological Educational Institution of Athens .
What did you study there?
I studied graphic design, basics of sketching and drawing, animation, history of art, typography techniques and many more!
Do you feel College helped develop your style?
A lot! My studies helped my to discover that art expands to many different exciting fields.
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
The style of my first drawings was somehow a combination of everything I had learned during my studies.
Did the college you attended help you get work when you graduated?
Not really…I searched work on my own at publishing or advertising companies and animation studios.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
Very much! When I look back at my first drawings I realize that my style has changed a lot and still changes…
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
Also, the positive feedback I received during my first interviews at publishing houses encouraged my to work as a children books illustrator. I love illustrating and I love…children! So the decision came up pretty easily!
It is pretty impressive that you have illustrated over 100 books. How many years did it take you to illustrate all those books?
From the beginning of my career I have been illustrating books. Either educational or fairytales. There was a time I had the opportunity to illustrate 8 up to 10 books per year.
It looks like you have managed to hit all the publishers and businesses in Greece. How did you manage to secure so many different jobs?
It is necessary to work with various clients as a free lancer… There is one key for working on many different projects at the same time; Time plan! I have to be close to a daily program in order to meet tight deadlines.
Do you illustrate full time?
Yes. Illustration needs devotion so I have to work many hours in order to complete a project.
How did get the contract with Anno Domini Publishing to illustrate “The Toddlers Bible”?
I met the editors of ADPS during the annual exhibition of Children Books illustration at Bologna. I proposed my work and they gave me the opportunity to illustrate stories of Jesus in my style. They helped me very much to improve things in my work . I am very happy with this cooperation.
Did you see a difference in working for a UK publisher vs. the work you have done with publishers in Greece?
Yes, some publishers in Greece have reached a very high level of quality ,too , but still some things are quite different. For example the brief and the layout is much more specific and accurate. There is less space for improvisation.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?
Definitely! I have done this already and I am in search for a publishing house who would like to publish my new one!
Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?
Yes, this would be great. I love this kind of picture books and I would really like to illustrate one, too.
Are you represented by an artist rep.? If so, how and when did you connect? If not, would you like to acquire representation?
Yes, I have an artist rep. for international projects. At first I searched through the internet and sent various e-mail with my pictures. My present agent liked my work so I joined their team almost two years ago.
Have you ever worked with a self-published author? Would you be open to that?
Yes, I have worked with self-published authors. Our cooperation was fine.
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
I use different kind of mediums. I prefer acrylic, ecoline ink and watercolor.
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
In most cases I need some research pictures before starting drawing… I often study animals, humans, clothes or buildings before transforming them into my style…
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
Yes, Photoshop is perfect tool for retouching pictures or making some color adjustments.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
I use graphic pens and tablets but I always prefer to draw with real pencils!
Do you do exhibits to market your art?
Not usually. This is one of my future plans, though, as it takes me a lot of time and effort to create a substantial exhibition…
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
Not really, but I like concept illustrations and would love to propose some of my ideas, too, if I have the chance.
Do you have a studio in your house?
I work at an independent studio…
Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?
Music! I listen to various kinds of music all the time and could never live without…
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
Every year I write down my hopes and goals. I try to be as close to my list as possible making just one step at a time. Some of them are not easy so patience and hard work are the tools to achieve my goals…
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
I have a couple of ideas for new books. I would love to see them published in the near future.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
Yes! This interview would not happen otherwise! Internet has opened too many new doors for me. It is an amazing tool!
What are your career goals?
My goal is to improve my work and reach a wider audience. I would like to make more exhibitions of my art. In the following years it would be nice to teach children. I will just have to learn more before start teaching.
What are you working on now?
I do not have any commissions at the moment so I have the chance to work on my own projects and ideas. A friend of mine has a great idea of a graphic novel. Hopefully it will be published in the near future.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
It is interesting to combine material. Sometimes I work with watercolor on bigger areas or background and come up with acrylic for the foreground . This help me to give depth in my pictures.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Be passionate about what you do. If you love your work and practice a lot then opportunities will arise sooner or later…
Thank you Yorgos for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.
To see more of Yorgos’s work, you can visit facebook.
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Yorgos. I am sure he’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!