Stathis Vontas – Photographer
Stathis Vontas was Born in Athens Greece in 1970. Studied Greek literature and psychology at the University of Athens. Works as a professional bartender, he has an amazing instagram feed mixing art props and photography, his stories are often very cute and mostly dark. He is married and father to a 14-year-old son.
What’s your background? Where are you from?
I studied Greek literature and psychology at the University of Athens. Never actually became a teacher or a psychologist though. Started to show interest in design quite early, through my high school years. Architecture and interior design was my first crash, but never studied neither properly. Photography and content creating is a new love.
What or who is inspiring you right now?
Anything can be an inspiration, at any time. Everyday objects seen in a different way are always a challenge for my skills as a photographer.
A flea market buy, or a trash find, can give me the inspiration to work for hours on a piece of furniture, trying to restore or update it, giving it a new life.
In Interior design, the inspiration always comes from the person that is going to live in the place I am about to create. I try to get in his shoes and find out what works best for him. But I would never create a space I could not live in, that’s why i see myself more as an amateur and not a professional.
How did you come to work in your creative industry?
My creative activities are more of a hobby and not a regular job. Interior design has always been a passion as far back as I can remember. Photography is something new. Content creating was always a part of my life, now that I think of it, just didn’t realize it till recently.
At some point people started to show interest in things I do or stuff I make, whether it is interior design or cement creations or even photography. So friends usually ask me to help them with a project. It can be a House renovation or a cement candle holder to match their coffee table. Photo shooting and photo editing for friends is something I do a lot and is always fun.
What was your first job?
I started working at the age of 22. My first job was a bartender in a club. It was not exactly a choice, it just happened. Seemed interesting at the moment and I thought I should try it. 26 years later I am happy to say I did the right thing back then.
How have you developed your career? What are you doing now?
Speaking of my career as a bartender I always try to do my best every day. Even on days I feel I can’t do it, I try to. Treat people with respect and care for their needs, try to help them have a good time, be there before they even realise they need you.
As far as my artistic aspect is concerned I would say I have done nothing to develop it, just going with the flow lately and see if something good comes out of it. Just taking care of my need to create and express.
What do you want to say with your work?
Through the images I create, mainly, I try to show people the world the way I see it. I am not sure I am trying to say something, just sharing my point of view. On the other hand, my photos always tell a story to those who listen. I am really happy when my story has an impact, but even if that won’t happen I am pretty satisfied with people come across my work. I am an iPhone photographer, showing my work in Instagram, big audience is always necessary, no matter if they connect to my story or not.
Describe your creative process
There is actually not a certain creative process. Talking about photography, sometimes it only takes me five minutes to capture the perfect shot, although in other cases it takes days of scheduling and editing. There can be even a period of months between the inspiration and the final result. Mostly a matter of timing. The only thing that stays the same in every project, every time, no matter how long it lasts, is the need to make it happen.
How would you define your style?
That is a difficult question. I couldn’t easily define my style. There are many things I like and use in my work and sometimes they even conflict each other. I like to experiment although certain motives are always present in my work. Talking about photography and content creating in an image, I would say my work is always man centered, flirting with minimalism, influenced by pop culture, especially when color is the issue.
The main idea is always the presence of a person(me) in the picture, even that is done in a suggestive way. There is a sense of humor combined with danger. Danger and death periodically appear in my set ups, but mostly making fun of it. Designing an Interior space, all the above would make me an eclecticist, but I’m not sure that applies in my photography.
What are the qualities that define an artist?
In my opinion what would define an artist is not a certain quality or qualities. It is his urge to create and his need to communicate through his work. I cannot think of any other characteristic that would make someone an artist, more than this.
Paint a picture of where you live/describe it
I live in a spacious apartment near the center of Athens located in a quiet neighborhood, with my family.
Been here since forever gives me a feeling of safety that I wouldn’t change. Besides that, I have easy access to the centre of the city as well as the beach. I would only exchange that for rooftop views of the city chaos. I find living in the suburbs boring and I choose to be somewhere in the middle. Open space and good lighting are important, so is the feeling of being close to the city vibe.
What is your favourite era of design?
As I previously said, choice is not easy for me. I appreciate what everyone has to offer, but try not to stuck in the past. If I should force myself to choose an era, I would go between Bauhaus and Minimalism.
Bauhaus on one hand upgraded everyday objects to a work of art, even on mass production. They unified art, craft and technology. And made art accessible to everyone, giving people a higher quality of everyday living.
Minimalism on the other hand, came at a period of world shock, and focused on being happy with less, as a choice.
Having minimalism as an apparatus so as to get rid of life excesses and then focus on what it’s important. Nowadays, I believe that this process makes a man happier.
Who has been the most inspirational person for you?
I may surprise you on this one. . . I often come across some wonderful work in any field. And of course there are personalities I admire and look up to their work. But my inspiration mostly comes out of everyday life and next door people, that never realise the impact they have.
What’s the project you are working on right now that you feel most passionately about?
My regular job took over the past month because of the holiday season, therefore there is no current project, except Christmas decorating and seasonal photography. What I’m about to start is a house renovation and I must say I am thrilled and terrified at the same time. Decided to renovate my own place and I am the most difficult client I could find. Always sure of what other people do but never seem to have a clear vision of what I want for my space. Love everything Want everything. Mix and match is the story of my life. The big challenge is to make that mess in my head work, and I’m not talking only about interior design!!!
Describe your typical daily routine?
I usually describe myself as an interesting person with a boring life. My day almost never starts early. I must admit I am not a morning person. I divide my day time between housekeeping, some work at my workshop or photo shooting and probably a quick visit at the gym (wishful thinking). Since I have a night job, working as a bartender, it’s like my day starts at 22:00. Some relaxation time before work is always nice, but most of the times I just run late.
What project of yours has inspired you the most?
I have been an instagrammer for the past six years, and looking back at my posts I can see that, in those years I got much better technically as well as I managed to find exactly what i wanted to do. . . I am so happy that I can show my work to so many people around the world, that don’t even know me, that makes the Instagram posting process the most inspiring and exciting. I wouldn’t choose one project but I would say it’s the procedure that always inspires me.
What are your beauty secrets?
Hmm… Should I reveal? I wouldn’t say I have any beauty secrets. I sleep A lot, I eat well, sometimes I exercise. That’s it. On the other hand I smoke, and I have some alcohol two or three times a week. Never done drugs which is good for my mind stability as well as for my looks. Whenever I feel like giving myself an extra treatment, it’s just a new haircut and a beard treatment.
How do look after yourself mentally and physically?
In the last few years I’ve come to the conclusion that one cannot stay physically healthy unless he is mentally healthy first. Sure, I take care of my body as much as I can. I try to make healthy choices, but I do smoke and occasionally drink. What I try the the most, is to keep balanced and not let stress levels go too high. Figure out the mess in my head, know who I am and what I want. Not easy but worth trying. I am totally the guy that turns his mental imbalance into a headache or a back trouble, so it is important to keep it under control. Long walks seem to work for me so far. Loudly talking to myself works as well, although it makes me look a bit weird. Doing nothing for an hour a day, is effective too. We do have a word for that in Greece, it’s “ceiling therapy” meaning you just do nothing, but stare at the ceiling. In case you want to impress somebody you could call it meditation.
What is your favourite films?
Star Wars trilogy for sure (sci-fi freak here). There are a few films that changed the way we see science fiction. It could be “Metropolis” or “2001 Space Odyssey” but Star Wars is the most complete. A whole new chapter in space relevant filmography. And so entertaining and satisfying as well… And of course… Darth Vader, no more words needed.
Do you have a favourite quote that you try to live by?
I do have a favourite quote. I wouldn’t say I live by it, but it totally represents me and often think of it, especially when I try to explain people’s acts. It is “Your choices are half chance, so is everybody else’s” by Baz Luhrmann. I love the lyrics, I love the song, I love the music, I love the movies, I love everything about this guy. And actually I intend on making an exception and do a post based on a quote, using this.
Is there anything in your career that you regret not doing?/regret doing?
I cannot regret for something I can still accomplish. Looking back at my life, I believe I shouldn’t have let insecurity define my professional life. I would also be happier, if my studies were more relevant to my interests. But, since the cliche “it’s never too late” is so true, there are always options and choices, so no regrets are necessary.
What makes you nervous?
Other people usually describe me as a calm, patient, always cool, person. The truth is, there is a really nervous guy, under the surface. Many things make me feel that way. Bad manners, rudeness, people crossing the line are a few. Not being sure of what the others think of me, or how they see me, is on top of that list. It’s essential to know, so I can be relaxed.
Who’s the nicest person you have worked with?
Happy to say that in the past years I’ve worked with many nice people. Wouldn’t name one, but I make sure they know how I feel for them. I was lucky to have awesome partners in work that turned into lifetime friends I will always count on. Since my work in photography is a “one man’s show”, I often see myself as a nice person to work with. Lol
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I don’t try to visualise the future especially in the professional Field. I believe that I don’t have such long term ambitions to be accomplished. More of a “day by day”person. Speaking in a more personal way, I hope I am a healthy, happy old man, with his beloved family and same old friends around him. So, that’s where i wanna be.
Do you dream?
I daydream a lot, but don’t seem to remember most of my night dreams, except for their nightmares. Hope there’s more in my dreaming than that, just don’t remember it, but then again I can’t be sure.
If you were to make a perfume how would it smell?
I like fresh/powder/soapy, with a little pepper twist. Long lasting for sure. I would choose that.
What’s on your playlist right now?
- “New Year’s Day” by U2. An all-time classic.
- “Tresor” by Polo&Pan. Perfect soundtrack for driving around the city.
- “Everybody gets to wear sunscreen” by Baz Luhrmann. Simple instructions to a better life.
- “It’s not unusual” by Tom Jones. Uplifting, no matter what.
- “2001:A space odyssey theme song” by Alex North. For all the times you wanna make an entrance.
View more Stathis’s work on his instagram