Interview: Stathi Kougianos

Stathi is one of the founders of Durban Is Yours or rather DIY as it’s fondly refered to here in Soup Air City. He’s awkward in a cool way (as the portrait shows). Stathi’s work has always grabbed my attention with it’s strong quirky themed  concepts that communicate so clearly what he’s wanting to put across. He talks visually, loves swearing and using commas, he drives terribly and wanted me to remove the Lil Wayne quote at the end in fear of, “I’ll look like a sexist dick”. He has just redone his site so I saw this the perfect time to introduce you to Stathi Kougianos.

You Greek fellas always have some crazy names. What’s your’s in full?
Efstathios Gerassimos Kougianos. Some popular variations of my simplified name are: Santi / Starthee / Stunti / Stutti / Stuffy / Staffie / Staythie. Basically my name is Steven in English.

Everything about you makes me think you’re into dark comedy. What makes you laugh?
Thank you for the public compliment. I am quite chuffed you picked up on my creepy vibes, it’s good to know all my hard work has paid off. I like laughing at things I shouldn’t, it’s the reason I carry Hanna (my handkerchief) in my pocket at all times. Cry laughing is a real occurrence. My life long quest is to send horrendous links to people I know. The most common reaction is: “Fuck you! What is that? You going to get me fired dude”.

You’re a Durban patriot. What defines the city for you?
The 1 degree of separation that has plagued this big village by the sea since its inception. If you have grown up in Durban, chances are you have met 80% of the people here or seen them before or seen their name online or heard about them or met them or awkwardly ignore them now because you don’t know if they remember you. That’s the best and worst thing, you can meet someone once and then see them the next day at Spar buying shampoo for their dog. The networking possibilities are pretty nuts so don’t be a dick.

How much influence does Durban have on your work?
A year ago I would have answered this question differently and probably oozed my undying love for the ou31 but my views since then have changed. I think doing work for a Durbanite for a Durbanite market means it will probably turn out very Durbanitee. Along this uphill battle with designing I have learnt that who you are creating for is way more important than your own personal agendas. So if it doesn’t fit, it won’t work. However, I like to think I am influenced by everything around me as you tend to reinterpret what you see without realizing it. I love black.

I read you enjoy nurturing your OCD, tell us more about this?
I wash my hands every hour for no reason and when I get bored. My t-shirts are colour coded on their hangers and so are my Bookmark Icons. My Recycle Bin is empty at all times. My desktop is cleaner than your room. Uneven volume levels can jog on. I hate messy eaters who leave unfinished food all over their plate. Please spell correctly and check your grammar before you Tweet/rant on Facebook. I’m never late. I love rulers and guides. Shoutouts to anyone who counts tiles while they walk.

You definitely have to have a level of OCD if are in a creative role, it feeds the passion and the obsession to reach your goals. Embrace it.

Do you collect anything? What do you enjoy collecting?
I like collecting friends.
I like collecting design books.
I like collecting t-shirts.
I like collecting URLs.
I like collecting images.
I like collecting Followers.
I like collecting Afrocentric shit.
I like collecting Tomy takkies.
I like collecting bangles.
I like collecting YouTube videos.
I like collecting emails.
I like collecting money.

Is most of your work for clients or is design a personal release as well?
I would love to say that I make whatever I want, sell it for a hefty fee and live in a massive villa made out of Lindt chocolate but unfortunately I do not. Most of it is for clients and by that I mean money. The personal stuff sneaks its way into exhibitions, that’s when the euphoria injections have the biggest needles. Not worrying about reverts and all that crap we have to deal with from 8 to 5. At some point I would hope I get to a place in my career where I can choose what I work on but I am years away from that. 10 000 hours.

Your favourite brief would entail….
Someone giving me so many restrictions, I get angry at them, sulk, swear, procrastinate and probably do the best design ever.

You’re a vector fan.. what’s your favourite Illustrator tool?
The blob brush. And the pen tool. I can’t choose between them, they are both dear children to me.

Most satisfying aspect of your line of work?
* You get to work for your friends and family for little to nothing ALL THE TIME. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon than making a business card for free entrance into a party that costs R50.

* When you have spent a million hours on a design, you are half an hour away from handing it over and then your computer crashes. And you lose everything.

* “Hey man, I was just wondering if you could deposit the money today when you get a chance please?”

* “I’m not sure what I want so can you please do some more options so I can show my wife tonight”.

Hopefully in the near future I will be able to help people through design, I am definitely interested in moving that way if the opportunity arises.

Plans or goals for the near future?
Cash cow the fuck out of graphic design. I’m moving to London in May so my biggest goal is to not be homeless. (I was going to say, “Fuck bitches, git money” but luckily my Lil’ Wayne phase is over).

For more of Stathi’s work you can check out:
twitter: stathi_k






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