Evangelia Philippidis first came to my attention when she posted a phenomenal piece of work she had done on the 614 artist Facebook page. I was really enthralled by her technique and the vivid colors she used so I asked her if she’d like to be interviewed. She said yes so we started online and then I had the privilege of being invited to her lovely home for appetizers, wine and a tour of her studio.
As with so many other artists that I have met, we found some commonalities…the most prominent of which was that we both were ‘pioneers’ in the Olde Town East scene only she lasted loner than I did. We both had homes in that area way before it was fashionable in the 80’s. For all I know, I walked my doggies past her house! She lived on Monroe and I lived on Franklin Avenue. Small world!! That was led to a lively discussion of the area, the gorgeous houses, people we both knew. Evangelia lived in her home for 27 years before moving to Grove City (about 1.5 years ago) to be closer to her folks and to downsize.
Evangelia has been a freelance artist since 1987. Initially, she was doing advertising and editorial work but turned to more of a ‘fine art’ career in 2009 after losing her job as an editorial illustrator for the Columbus Dispatch. And I also found out that she knew a friend of mine who also was RIF’ed the same year! Once again, small world!!!
Born and raised until the age of 9 in the shadow of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, her first memories as a child were playing in the ancient ruins and museums of Athens always surrounded by art….wow, I’m jealous!!! Her parents moved to the US to realize the American dream. Her father, a salesman in gold jewelry, was unlike many Greek dads, wanting his daughters to go to college and make more of their lives than what they would be able to in Greece, hence, the move. The girls and their mother didn’t really want to leave Greece but Dad won out and they moved to a part of Ohio that Evangelia was less than thrilled with.
Initially, she wanted to be an archaeologist but since she is not a very science oriented kinda gal that dream ended in her junior year of high school in Lorain, Ohio. She always drew as a hobby, was always creative and imaginative, creating original Halloween costumes for her younger sister and posters for theater productions but she didn’t think it could become a vocation. However, eventually she sort of fell into it while trying to decide what to do with her life. While waiting for seat to open in the Navy’s photography school, she did research on art schools and found that CCAD was rated as one of the top art schools in the country. Soooo… she enrolled at CCAD on a whim and fell in LOVE!
Evangelia attended CCAD (Columbus College of Art and Design) from 1976-1981 and, eventually, earned a BFA in Illustration. After graduation, her first 2 jobs were as a photojournalist and designer… first, as a photographer for the Ohio Commission on Aging (3 years) and then at United McGill Corp in Groveport as publications designer (another 3 years) before landing a job at the Dispatch. She was initially hired as a page designer but quickly transitioned into illustration within her first year. I was not a good illustrator to begin with but the terror of having my name on bad illustrations viewed by 300,000 subscribers was incentive to improve and quickly!! She learned on the job with the support and guidance of a co-worker/artist (her now hubby!) who took her under his wing and introduced her to scratchboard. She got so into it that within that year she was winning national editorial illustration awards.
She categorizes her art as very graphic, fanciful and detail oriented. She uses her graphic design background as a base to layout her illustrations:
My work is a mix of the old world and the new. From the inspiration to the execution, it is a reflection of who I am as a person, a child of Greece, a woman of the USA. The scratchboard process is almost 200 years old while the piece is finalized in the computer. The images are based on age old myths and legends but the message is morphed to reflect the modern world we live in.
Inspiration comes from ancient art from all over the world: Egypt, Crete, Meso America, Africa, Oceania and Celtic…anything you can think of, she looks at for inspiration. She is heavily inspired by Mother Nature and the designs she creates, music, poetry and literature. Her work is a form of mixed media created with scratchboard and computer so most new techniques are derived from her PC.
She works from her home studio with her dogs and a glass of wine handy (my kinda girl!) and sells her works mainly through her website. She also has work at The Ohio Designer Craftsman Museum on 5th Avenue. Throughout the year, she sells her works through select art fairs such as the Greek Festival in Short North, The Art and Wine Festival and Arts in the Alley in Grove City, and Winterfairs in both Cincy and Columbus. And not too long ago, The Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators chose one of her works for a promotional package!
Not only does she create her own works but she encourages young artists as an adjunct faculty member for illustration at CCAD. In that position, she teaches Editorial Illustration where the process includes familiarizing her students with and understanding national and international issues. Not only do her students speak out verbally about the issues that concern them but they get the opportunity to visually express them. They understand that through their art they have the power to influence, inspire and affect change. That is what I am most proud of…my students.
I also learned that she was co-owner of the Galleria Evangelia in Clintonville until 2 years ago. I remember seeing the gallery but never had the opportunity to attend events there. A friend of hers encouraged her to turn the empty building on High Street into a gallery that hosted at least 6 shows a year along with monthly concerts featuring local musicians. Eventually, her friend tired of the business and Evangelia tried to run the gallery by herself but it proved to be too much and on December 31 2013 the gallery closed it’s doors. She definitely felt that the experience of running a gallery was a good one but she is happy that she made the decision to move on so that she could concentrate on her own work.
Currently, she is creating commissioned works for the Helenic museum in Chicago, pieces that reflect the strength of the Greek women that helped raise her, including her grandmother. These pieces are beautifully reminiscent of her youth, women making bread and pastries, Greek goddesses and more. This collection is currently in the judging process and will be on exhibit in the next 2-3 years.
Initially, her pieces are created in black and white and then are scanned into Photoshop where she adds bold colors. From there, she makes a series of limited edition signed and numbered prints. Once that edition is sold, she may revisit the piece changing colors, adding other imagery or changing element proportions to create a new edition She may make changes to the pieces as she makes multiple
She is also planning an 8 week trip in May to Greece to reconnect with family, friends, etc. I can only believe that her time returning to her home will provide more inspiration for her work. And, of course, I want to hear all about her trip as Greece is high on my bucket list…hehehe!!