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Columbus Makes Art Presents: Columbus Illustrator Evangelia Philippidis on Inspiration and Process

Kim Nagorski Kim Nagorski Columbus Makes Art Presents: Columbus Illustrator Evangelia Philippidis on Inspiration and ProcessEvangelia Philippidis' artwork titled Eurydice Acheron. Her work is available at the Ohio Craft Museum.
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The Ohio Craft Museum, located in the Grandview Heights area, offers unique, one-of-a-kind gifts handcrafted by over 100 artists during its annual holiday sale, Gifts of the Craftsmen. Now through Dec. 23, shoppers will find something for everyone on their shopping list—including beautiful jewelry, sparkling glass ornaments, functional pottery and stunning prints and cards by Columbus illustrator Evangelia Philippidis. Evangelia took some time to talk with us about her work.

Evangelia Phillippidis at work.

Evangelia Phillippidis at work.

Kim: Can you explain the process you use to create your designs?
Evangelia: The process is called scratchboard. I start with a white-clay-covered board with black ink brushed over it, then I transfer a design I’ve already created to the board with a white pencil. Using an X-Acto knife, I scratch through the ink to reveal the white board beneath.

Evangelia Philippidis, It’s Good to BEE Queen.

Evangelia Philippidis, It’s Good to BEE Queen.

Kim: Why use scratchboard?
Evangelia: I’ve always been fascinated with woodcuts and lithography, but it’s so time-consuming. When I was working as an illustrator at The Columbus Dispatch, I discovered scratchboard as a way to do something I really liked really fast. My imagery is conceptual as opposed to realistic, and it appealed to a wide variety of readers, which made my work at the Dispatch very successful.

Kim: What are the inspirations behind your latest work?
Evangelia: I was born in Greece and lived there until I was nine. My work has always been influenced by the mythology, art and architecture of the country. I went back to Greece this past summer for two months. It was an absolutely incredible trip, and my newer work reflects that. One of my new pieces is inspired by Kefalonia Island—the image is composed of goats, figs, villages and rare turtles that make their home there. They’re all surrounding a beautiful woman, which is the island itself. My work continues to incorporate animals, because conservation and acting as better caretakers of the Earth are passions of mine. I don’t want to hit people over the head with it, though, so I use whimsical characters.

Kim: You’ve now written a couple of children’s books. How did that come about, and are you planning more?
Evangelia: In 2009, I lost my job at the Dispatch after 22 years. That same year, my husband had cardiac surgery, and all three of my Labrador retrievers died. I figured I could either fall apart or do something creative about it. I had always wanted to do a kids’ book. I had written a poem about the Labs for a creative-writing class, and decided to expand on it. I’m now working on another book based on my experiences in Greece. It’s going to be a wordless book.

Kim: Are there any Greek holiday traditions that you continue to celebrate today?
Evangelia: Of course! We have a huge meal and open our presents at midnight on Christmas Eve. I also make Brandy Alexanders for my mother and I, which is not a Greek tradition!

The Ohio Craft Museum is located at 1665 W. Fifth Ave. in the Grandview Heights area. Hours during Gifts of the Craftsmen are Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday, 1–4 p.m. For details, visit www.ohiocraft.org or call (614) 486-4402.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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