How has art school influenced the way you view art?

I would be nothing without art school. I studied at the University of Western Macedonia and I feel lucky about it and happy for the fact that I studied something that I truly love. Studying art in Greece means five years of studies and that’s enough time to get all the information you need. I’m the kind of guy who can read anything that has to do with art anyway. But in art school I found out where I belong and it did not only influenced the way I view art but the way I view myself too.

WONDERLAND fotios balas

How easy is it for an artist in Greece?

Since I was studying, some of my teachers were telling me to leave Greece, to open my wings and stuff like that. I’m confused. I believe that it’s great to do things in your own country more or less important. I graduated few months ago, I’m not planning to stay here forever I just want to do more in Greece. We live through hard times and I know very well that it’s not easy for an artist to live in Greece but I’m a Scorpio and I don’t like “easy things” anyway!

A BAD PAINTING FOR A BAD LOVER (acrylic on paper and a broken tooth)

You combine art with fashion, how did this begin?

Once upon a time, I was thinking about becoming a designer but designers are responsible for making products that best serve a great number of people, and I don’t think that’s so liberating….Art and fashion are two different things for me, art is a way of life and fashion is just a game, a flirt. Since I was studying, I created my own accessories inspired by me, each piece I create I do it thinking of what I would like to wear. Then everybody were asking “Wow, where did you buy this?!” and I began! Sometimes I flirt with fashion photography too. The most important work I did till now in fashion industry, was my collaboration with Celebrity Skin designers in Athens Exclusive Designers Week. I created my first hats- totally made out of real feathers-for their ss2014 “raw” collection. It was fun! I could do that again, I love to collaborate with people who have a vision.

HATS---FOTIOS BALAS for celebrityskin ss2014 collection

You have been part of several exhibitions, has there been one that was very special for you?

E ach exhibition is special for me. But the one I believe that was very  special, took place last October in “Lola Nikolaou Gallery” in Thessaloniki. The title was: “Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow”. It was an art exhibition with some of the biggest names in history of art and I was the only young artist to participate. It was an honor for me to see my work between the works of Tsarouhis, Akrithakis, Moralis, Pavlos, Gaitis and other legends. I will never  forget  that.

GIGOLO (clay,gold color) FOTIOS BALAS

How important a role does art have in your everyday life?

Art is my life! Even if someone cuts off my hands, I won’t stop thinking as I do. I was always “different”, I mean the way I think, I dress, I behave, I can’t pretend, it comes naturally. My family is proud of me but I’m still the “black sheep” and I hate sheep-I used to be a vegetarian- but I love black. Black is sexy!

SEX (mixed media) fotios balas

Are you working on something right now?

Well, I’m working on three upcoming art projects. New ideas, new materials… I can only confess that this Spring I will participate in an art exhibition in Paris and I’m so excited about that.

Interview by Emma Elina Keira Jones.

FOTIOS BALAS DRINKING TEA -photo by Apostolis Tsarouchas