Say hello to experimental artist or, as he calls himself, a New Media Artist, Petros Vrellis! We recently discovered his experiment “knitted” portraits and instantly fell in love with the process. We therefore caught up with Petros to find out more about his work…
You describe yourself a new media artist, can you tell us what exactly that is?
I produce art using modern technology. In other words, all of my work couldn't be implemented a few decades ago.
Can you tell us more about your background? (Where you grew up, any training you've had, and other influences in your life)
I grew up in a small town in Greece. My father was a writer and my uncles were visual artists. However, I first studied Electrical Engineering. A few years later, I decided to follow my artistic side and study fine arts. Today, I work as an engineer to make a living. This limits my free time, but gives me a sense of artistic freedom.
In your work, "A new way to knit", you actually don't traditionally knit - can you explain what the process is?
The core of this project is an algorithm that I have developed to produce photo-realistic results using a single thread in a circular string-art form. I feed the algorithm with a digital photo and it produces the sequence I have to follow. Of course, this is a plain mechanical process. The artistic character of the piece resides on the message that is carried through the media; a single thread, with the extreme limitations of continuous chords can produce a photo-realistic portrait. This surprising fact makes me wonder about how limited our senses are, and helps me realise that we perceive a tiny fraction of the real nature of the world...
How long does it take you to complete a portrait with this 'experimental knitting'?
I have spent several months developing, testing and fine-tuning the algorithm. Today, to build a real life artwork I need about 10-20 days.
Much of your work revolves around the human face - what draws you to faces?
I find portraits as the most interesting theme. I especially like the fact that we humans can get instantly connected with a face.
Cicero is quoted as saying, 'Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi' = "The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter."
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have a daily job as an electrical engineer. I spend the rest of my day with my family and arts.
You experiment with lots of different mediums and ideas - do you find that much of what you work on doesn't take off?
Success is a result of a very complicated path that does not include just creativity and hard work. Of course, both are needed, but luck (or better said: multiple factors that are far beyond our control) has much more to do with it. I consider myself quite lucky to have a few projects that went viral. However, I don't want to spend my limited time in meaningless repetitions of my previous works, so I always seek new ways of expression.
Do you have any techniques to help you overcome artist block when trying to find new ideas?
I have absolutely no control on the process of how a really creative idea is generated. Inspiration works in mysterious ways. I can only try to absorb any useful information (from books to visual arts), hoping that someday my brain will generate a creative idea that combines the accumulated knowledge. I feel blessed for the few weeks of my life that were overwhelmed with inspirational flow. It comes completely unexpectedly while working on even the most irrelevant projects.
Are there any other artists that inspire you?
Zachary Lieberman and Memo Akten for their new media projects, Kumi Yamashita for her string-art artwork, and many others.
Thanks so much for letting us find out more about your work Petros!
You can find more of Petros’ work here: