Woodcarving Reggae Poster | Interview with Theodoros Kontaxis

Congratulations Theodoros!

Tell us how did you find out about the International Reggae Poster Contest and what was it that attracted you to participate?

I found the competition through social media basically and a few of the winning designs that got my attention. What attracted me to participate was that it connects my passion for design with my love for reggae music/culture and also, the vision ‘Towards a Reggae Hall of Fame’ is something that gives it an even bigger purpose.


What’s it like having your work selected in the International Reggae Poster Contest 2014?

It is an honor having my work among great artworks from all these artists around the world and even more so with the prestigious jury panel of the competition.

Is Reggae quite popular in Greece and when did you become attracted to the genre?

Reggae is quite popular in Greece I think because there are a few similarities in the culture and lifestyle and one proof is the constant appearance of Greek artists with beautiful posters in the top 100 of the contest every year. I initially became attracted to reggae the first time I heard Bob Marley’s music back in high school.

Your poster, being carved in wood makes it an exceptional piece. How did you develop this technique and style?

My passion for woodcuts started by accident in 2009 during my studying years in Brighton. My cousin gave me a knife as a present, and when creativity exceeded boredom one night, I started carving my desk with it. Two years later at the end of my degree I had carved the whole desk with this knife.

Please share some more details about this technique.

Since then my tools have become a bit more sophisticated than a hunting knife, but I still don’t use traditional woodcutting tools. I prefer to use a surgical blade as it gives me a better level of precision and detail.


Would you suggest it to new designers, and why?

I would suggest it to anyone who would like to try it and likes to work with his hands. It takes a lot of time and practice though, so patience is a must. The most challenging part is that there is almost no room for error; once it is carved that’s it.

Tell us about your design philosophy and meaning behind your winning poster.

My design is a composition of reggae elements that combined tell a story and at the same time a tribute to some of my favorite artists, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Judy Mowatt and Big Youth. Speakers and records travel the sounds of their music, their roots (Ethiopia, Africa in the nose) and their birthplace (Jamaica in the corner of the eye) hidden in the lion to give them the strength of Jah, and the birds to show them the way to Zion.
I also have to thank my good friend Dimitris Bonatsos for his help in the design process of the poster.

You are an amazing graphic designer, carver and illustrator. Did you study design or fine art?

Thank you. I studied architecture in Brighton University but between the Bachelor and MArch I got an MA in Architecture and Digital Media in the University of Westminster. I ‘ve always been drawn to arts and design though, from early graffiti years to digital abstracts later on till now where I experiment with different concepts.


How do you approach a design such as the winning piece?

In woodcut pieces such as this one, I try to create a concept for a composition with various elements of the subject, so there is lots of experimenting on how to combine different ideas. I try to create different focal points that result in an overall balanced design. I usually like to include portraits as I enjoy working with expressions and typography among others.

Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?

Creative slumps can be frustrating but I think the key to overcome them is to keep on pushing. I always have a few ideas on hold and a few ongoing projects so shifting between them can help ideas get going.

Basic CMYK

Is there any particular artist or illustrator that inspires you?

They are too many to name and come from different disciplines: from street art and graffiti to drawing and illustrations, generative art, tattoo art and many more.. Alexis Marcou, Daleast, Iemza, Hopare, Charis Tsevis, Francoise Nielly, Vince Low, YoAz are just a few.

What is your first experience in poster design?

My first poster design was for ‘Design for water’ as a contribution to the workshop and to support FACE Africa’s effort in Liberia. A different approach than the IRPC poster with a digital image of clean water bubbles forming the FACE Africa logo.

In your opinion, what makes a good (poster) design?

A good poster design in my opinion has to be unique and eye-catching, convey the message through a clear concept and of course style matters.


What are you working on now?

I have a couple of commissioned works I am developing and I am always experimenting with my personal ideas. Lately I am more into the ‘Art of subtraction’ concept that originated from the woodcuts and has turned into wallcuts, doorcuts, papercuts, etc..


What would you like to see as a career benefit coming out of wining this International design contest?

I would love to work on more designs similar to ‘One Love’ as I enjoyed making it too much. And of course working with reggae as a theme is always a pleasure.

What are your thoughts on our objective to have the Reggae Hall of Fame museum built in Kingston, Jamaica?

I think it is a great idea. Reggae should have a museum of its own and as an architect I would love to see a remarkable piece of architecture become the ‘Hall of Fame’ for this music.

Before we close, who is your favorite reggae artiste and what reggae tune gets regular play on your iTunes play list?

I started out with Bob Marley and he is always in my playlist but there are many more nowadays: Dennis Brown, Prince Jazzbo, Freddie McGregor, Burning Spear, Don Carlos and many more..


Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (www.reggaepostercontest.com)


  • Hello,I read your blog named “Woodcarving Reggae Poster | Interview with Theodoros Kontaxis | Graphic Art News” regularly.Your writing style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about proxy list daily.

  • Theodoros Kontaxis says:

    Maria it was a pleasure!thnks so much!!!

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