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London-based George Tsioutsias received a Pan-European award in painting at the age of 9. He graduated from the Chelsea College of Arts & Design and ever since, has channeled his creativity to designing and art directing for brands in the music and fashion industry. His work has been shown at Cannes, at the Georges Pompidou Centre, at the Barbican Gallery of London and combines multiple means and art disciplines. He has worked with Vivienne Westwood, Sony BMG, MTV, Coca Cola, while his most recent work is the video for the #appyDays application of Microsoft and Nokia.

#1: How did the #appyDays commercial occur? Were you asked to do something specific, or were you completely free to create on your own?

Commercial work at this level is bound to be quite specific. Concepts can sometimes be pretty fixed. The core ideas, at least. Agencies,
though, hire directors on the premise that they will bring in their own vision and style. These guys wanted something quite fast-paced, exciting and music video-ey, that would appeal to young people on a global scale. Now, if your glass is half empty, you’d think ‘okay, that’s very specific’. Well, I try to see potential and find room for exploration and improvement. It usually works – especially when you are doing this with the right team.

#2: You have worked on TV commercials, fashion, animation, etc. How does each field affect the way you work? Do you think that they can limit your artistic point of view?

My approach is rather similar. Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of a creative ritual. Research is a big part of it, as well as testing things out and obviously thinking things through over and over, although I can be quite intuitive or spontaneous at times. Regarding how limiting certain fields can be, I’d say both yes and no. Budgets can sometimes be limiting. But mostly clients’ mindsets are. There’s also misconceptions like the fact that music video for instance is a rather fun and creative medium, especially for young directors to play with. I’m not sure I agree with that anymore, as in today’s economic climate, record labels are being extremely controlling about their artists output which really takes away all the fun. Does the world need another boring, unimaginative music video? I wouldn’t think so.

#3: You combine diverse media. Does this come up during the procedure, or is it a well-organized plan?

If you are referring to pre-production then yes. Anything goes until we get the look and feel right. There’s a lot of experimentation and loads or trial and error. Otherwise, when I pass this point, I don’t really leave things to chance. To be honest, that would be a luxury. Everything needs to be pre-planned quite meticulously before every shoot. There are all sorts of issues that always crop up on the day, so you need to be focused if you really want to nail your shots. Remember, you only have one chance at getting this right.

#4: Do you try to convey some message, besides what you are asked for?

It really depends on the project. If it’s a music video or some kind of personal work I probably would, but I’m not sure what kind of message besides the one that is relevant to whatever is advertised one would convey through a commercial. Nevertheless, anything
visual has undisputed power. We see something and we immediately have an emotive response to it. Within a split second we know if we like it or not. And that’s because we don’t think about beauty. We primarily feel it. I could try and get all sorts of messages across, subliminal or not, but there’s one thing that really interests me. The perception of beauty. And that’s not necessarily in the traditional
sense, but in a more personal, subjective manner. Specific visuals mean certain things to me, but what’s interesting is how I could influence someone or how I would make them feel when I show them all those things I like and capture.

#5: Which one is your favorite project so far?

I can’t really pick one out. They are just too many. There are small projects I’ve done in the past that I love equally to things that I’ve shot for hundreds of thousands of pounds. I remember it took me ages to figure out what to include on my website. A nice problem to have.

#6: Are there any artists that have influenced you?

Of course. I’d say pieces or movements, though, rather than specific artists. Did you ever like every single track or album your favorite band put out? I didn’t. That’s why I tend to have different favorites depending on how the wind blows. Today’s mood is rather postmodern. Memphis meets Antonio Lopez’s outrageous maternity dress for Grace Jones, with a touch of pop painting by James Rosenquist, while Tadao Ando stirs in some of his signature architectural structures just to dial the whole thing back a little. As a filmmaker with an unconventional trajectory and a background in design, I’m attracted to most things graphic and I find inspiration across various disciplines. I’m always fascinated when all these different worlds collide and create intriguing hybrids.

#7: Which is the best part of creating?

It’s probably the very early stages when that something in your gut tells you ‘you’re onto something’. Then you research and research and research and eventually you come up with something solid. You then start trying things out etc. Up until this point, I do find the process remarkably exciting. Don’t get me wrong though; there’s always joy in the actual craft of making something too. However these days, things have got a little bit too technical which can sometimes take some of the fun away.

#8: Once you have completed a project, how do you feel?

Happy. Relieved.

@chewcowski, georgetsioutsias.com/

Interview: Dimitra Papanika  Photo by Nikolas Ventourakis