Words by Eleni Papaioannou
From magazine pages and album covers to web fantasies and home practicalities, his talent is exuberant and his personality multi-faced. A creative director that left the safe waters of office boredom to swim in the dangerous but fascinating sea of design, we give you Mr Vitaliotis or, as he is otherwise known, Magneto.
Tell us a bit about your work:
I will try to be brief: I started in 1991, back when the work was done manually, in a graphic arts studio. In 1996 I started collaborating with record companies, designing covers for CDs, while I was the Art Director at OZON Magazine. In 2000, the photographer Costas Coutayar chose me as the Art Director of the magazine VIEW _and I thank him very much for that. Then I went on to become the Creative Director for Marie Claire and, later on, VOTRE BEAUTE magazines. All the while, I also had many collaborations in Greece and abroad!
At what stage did you discover yourself, creatively?
While at VIEW, a magazine I think Greece has not yet seen an equal to.
Did working in an office numb your creative itch?
Yes, and this mostly had to do with the big salaries it came with. But in my fourties, and at the outbreak of the economic crisis, I went through an existential crisis of my own, about where I am and whether I’m satisfied. I realized that I had lost my identity as an artist, a circle in my life had been closed and that I had to be brave and not be afraid of where this crisis was leading us. The next day I gave my resignation and decided to stay at home and see how it is to be able to go for a coffee on Monday morning without having a schedule (bored me out of my mind!)
What did you play with when you were little?
Beyond the toys one finds in shops (cars, lego, dolls, board games) I would play defense at the soccer games going on around my neighborhood. Games were abandoned all together, when my father and I discovered ice skating.
What has molded you, creatively? What have been your references?
This is a question that I have asked myself but still haven’t been able to reply. Maybe because I find things that I admire in very many art movements and diverse artists. But if I have to give one name, Herb Lubalin is an artist that has influenced me a lot!
How would you describe your personal style?
I am moody when it comes to my appearance. So I think I don’t have a particular style.
Who is Magneto? Why create behind a persona?
Magneto is my favorite childhood hero. His strength did not come from a fit and strong body, but the power of his mind. This I found very impressive. When I decided to stop working for magazines and find my new artistic identity, I sat down and decided that I would look at things in a completely different way. I would begin to work with other forms of art that I had been meaning to, since childhood: photography, design…I would try out the things I wanted to do and not stop doing the things I love. This way of thinking immediately changed my character. And why not be called Magneto, the name of my hero? It was, after all, the name I had for myself on my facebook page. From then on, any work I signed was with «Magneto».
What would you like to have created?
The musical sound composition program “Reason”. It is the only program that I have not been able to understand, while I have to abandon what I am using to compose now, as it doesn’t have many features.
Creation for commercial reasons is a need or a challenge?
For me it is a necessity.
What have you demystified in your work, over the years?
What fascinates you, still?
I am enchanted by good manners and kindness in people. I am fascinated by the evolution of technology, the fact that it is found in every aspect of my everyday life, making it easier. Magazines bore me a little, since I get the information I need from the internet and because, in the 45 years of my existence I know how to dress, what suits me and what doesn’t. I prefer going to the amazing book store at the Benaki Museum and buying a specialized coffee-table book, which I will keep in my living room table and go through many times.
What talent would you like to have?
To be able to easily learn foreign languages.
What you are fantastically good at?
This question I asked my friend, Socrates, and he replied that I am incredibly good at supporting and giving people a boost. Also, I’m great at terrifying others with the predictions I successfully make.
Are there opportunities in Greece for people with creative brains?
I think that, worldwide, we are living in the era of the apotheosis of “nothing”. I feel that, for most people, nothing is more understandable because they don’t care to be informed or they didn’t have the luck to be able to travel and fill up with images and knowledge. I feel that, here in Greece, the creative brain must also be a lucky one.
Has the crisis weakened or given you more drive?
I feel that the economic crisis has made me more creative and the personal crises in my life have made me stronger.
What is «Ladies & Gents» and why did you do it?
Ladiesngents.com is my psychotherapy. It was the beginning of the search for my identity. I wanted to meet and deal with people with whom I couldn’t, before, for various reasons. It mainly has to do with fashion and the new people in it, people I personally find most creative and with a more interesting body of work. I have had very good feedback from major vendors such as Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Louboutin and others, a collaboration with Luisaviaroma, etc. I am very happy when people approach me through the website, to do something through it, considering it as a means to express themselves in their own way, something they can not do anywhere else. I am frequently asked why not do something to use the website as a means to earn money, but I answer that I do not care to live the agony of profit or recognition, something that will take my time away from other things I want to do. I am probably missinturpreted as being a snob. A very dear friend told me I am hiding behind it. I have found myself in groups of friends who talk about ladiesngents.com and they have no clue I am the one creating it.
What do you dream of doing in the future?
I will reply with what I have planned for the future. Spyros Drakos and I have created a design brand called suprematist.eu. For it, I have designed house objects that, if everything goes well, will be presented in a show, abroad.
Favorite work of art?
A photo by Enrique Metinides, a gruesome and shocking depiction of a real car crash with a dead woman. It is the only photo that makes me see death as something alluring!
I have two: “Behind the wheel” by Depeche Mode and “Sparks” by Royksopp.
What inspires you? People, situations, or something else?