A Winchester School of Art 2011 graduate Michalis Varelias is a freelance illustrator (and art teacher) who takes inspiration from socio-economic themes of everyday life, history and mythology, dreams and observations from nature.
‘Some say my visual language is a curious amalgam of the traditional and the naïve modern, well, when people ask about my artwork I often find myself scratching my head trying to specify and confine the work under rectifying labels. Only one thing matter to me really, to successfully convey stories through the medium of paper. When I’m not busy with my day job as an art teacher I work on my own commissions, relentlessly building up my portfolio and momentum in order to break in the international illustration industry regardless the recession-struck environment of my country.’
‘I still recollect my very first art project, having my bedroom’s wall painstaking painted over with oil-pastel scribbles from end to end and of course having my mother going ballistic, I never stopped drawing since then. If it were to grow as a visual artist I had to leave Cyprus really, so I did in 2008 and whilst studying in the UK I had my first contact with the intoxicating world of illustration. Since then my work has exponentially grown, curiously enough my postgraduate studies in art history informed my illustration practice, often with peculiar triangulate renditions of socio-political themes right out from my history course books. I draw my inspiration from quite a few sources; most notably though from socio-economic themes of everyday life, history and mythology, dreams and observations from nature.
My artistic workflow mainly incorporates Photoshop, Illustrator and Corel Paint as well as traditional media; I have always maintained the opinion that every illustrator should maintain a balanced relationship between the traditional and digital media!’
‘My influence derives from contemporary illustrators and the avant-garde as well as the old masters, notably Peter Paul Rubens and Caravaggio. Currently I’m working on a commission for a beach-bar, a local museum and tentatively attempting to participate in a few international illustration competitions.’