Cell Wear - Collaboration 001: The Constantee by Constantine Giavos
Constantine Giavos is a designer and musician based in Richmond, VA. We've teamed up with him to release a limited edition Cell Vision x Constantine Giavos t-shirt for our new CELL WEAR collection. Cell Vision co-founder Prince Terrence spoke with Giavos about how he got his start in graphic design, his creative programs of choice, and his new musical project, Corfu.
Constantine Giavos is a graphic designer, musician, and DJ based in Richmond, VA. The child of Greek immigrants, his work has been featured in Taschen books, VICE, plus album covers, tour art, and merchandise for many independent and major label artists. Giavos has also designed several restaurant interiors and branding projects over the last decade. A creator across multiple disciplines, his musical project (Corfu), design work, parties, and more all share an air of effortless cool.
We love his work, and are happy to present an exclusive shirt designed for Cell Vision by Constantine, available now in the Cell Shop. Cell Vision co-founder Prince Terrence spoke with Giavos about how he got his start in graphic design, his creative programs of choice, and his new musical project.
CELL VISION: What is your earliest recollection of a visual design or imagery that captivated you and may have ultimately contributed to your love for design?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I wish I had a crazy story about seeing the Nike logo for the first time, but I think it just has to be looking at album covers. I was super into music from a young age and my dad had a wall of hundreds of CDs and LPs in our basement and I loved examining them. That has to be the start to something right? My parents just in general were always super into eccentric art and furniture as well so I feel like I got my taste from them.
CELL VISION: Do you have a favorite graphic artist?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: Robert Beatty comes to mind immediately. He seems to be the originator and king of that sort of surrealist airbrush style at this point. All of his work is just beautiful. What an amazing artist, and from his Twitter, an opinionated and principled man.
CELL VISION: What was the most fun design project that you have taken on?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I loved creating the art/packaging for the first Illiterate Light LP and singles on Atlantic Records. Those guys are great, they really let me kind of do my thing which was awesome. I got my buddy Justin Bridges to shoot them at his studio. I directed them to do these different poses with a blank background and took those images and created this entire universe for them based on the themes of the record, so it had this really cool photomontage kind of feel in the vein of some of my favorite album art.
CELL VISION:Are there any aspects of everyday life that inspire you as an artist?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I think like anyone, I’m inspired by great art and design. When I see something cool that someone else made it gets me excited. But I guess, ultimately music inspires me.
CELL VISION: Let’s get nerdy, what is your design program of choice?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I used to be a pure Illustrator guy but I feel like most of my work now is done in Photoshop, with stuff being flown in from Illustrator. For all of my restaurant branding work and menu design, I definitely use InDesign. Which can honestly be fun in its own nerdy way.
CELL VISION: Are you self-taught or did you take design classes?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I was self-taught as a teen, probably started messing around in the Adobe suite when I was 13 or 14, and then went to college at Parsons The New School for Design, I majored in Communication Design. I wish I paid a little more attention to all the motion graphics and digital stuff there to be honest. I thought I knew everything. I feel like I did learn a lot about typography though at Parsons.
CELL VISION: Is there a recurring element or technique across your work that embodies your signature aesthetic?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I think there is a boldness maybe to what I do? I want to try to catch the viewer's eye immediately in whatever I’m creating. It has to pop. Ultimately, I straddle the line between making “cool” stuff and also things that even people who have no context for what I’m referencing or what I’m into can enjoy. In terms of my work in music, I’m just very inspired by the setup and look of classic album covers, so I’d like to think that comes through. Also typography.
CELL VISION: What are some other areas of design that you would like to step into?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: Animation seems cool, but I think I’m just too impatient and ADD to really explore something else in my life right now. It would be quite cool to create graphics for a live show though.
CELL VISION: Do you pronounce gif or ‘jif’?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: Jif. Like the peanut butter, baby. Gif seems like the first name of a bounty hunter in Star Wars. Gif Kelso from Tatooine. Get real buddy.
CELL VISION: Many artistic trades are seeing a shift in their industries due to readily available user friendly apps and platforms like Canva for graphic design, and countless video/photo editing platforms from the convenience of your back pocket. Do you feel that this has affected the design industry in a positive or negative way?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I think that from my perspective, it only separates the people who want something wonderful and tasteful from the people just looking for a quick fix. There’s a lovely community of people on Instagram (maybe one of the only cool things about Instagram) that really appreciate design and seek out cool artists for commissions. In terms of using these apps to create, I think that ultimately anybody caring about aesthetics is probably a good thing, so the more the merrier. Look at music. Who am I to say “sorry man, you shouldn’t buy that midi keyboard and mess around with these pre-made loops, leave it to the real musicians”? The design world is full of the biggest gatekeepers on the planet, I’ve always found myself outside of that space.
CELL VISION: Given your experience in the graphic design community and as a freelancer what advice do you have for up-and-comers from a business and artististic standpoint?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: I would say when you feel like your art is good enough to let the world see it, then post it and keep posting it. If people like it they will tell you. And I’d also say always try to emulate things you like, I think that’s how you find your own style. In terms of music-related work, it’s always good to design for something real and for something that will be seen. If you have the bandwidth, it can’t hurt to do a poster for a friend’s band for free/barter to get some exposure early on.
CELL VISION: What are some of your favorite album covers of all time?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: Here you go...
CELL VISION: While we’re on the topic of music. You’re a drummer (as am I). In fact we have both drummed for the same artist, Spank Rock. You have a new project called Corfu, tell me about that project and what it’s like to have full branding control and capabilities for your own music project.
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS: Yes we have! Shout out the absolute legend Spank Rock, aka NAEEM. Corfu is my musical project (it’s named after my dad’s mom, who is from the Greek island of Corfu). I had been working on several songs for a while and decided it was time to put them out. I feel like it’s a mix of like Beck, David Axelrod and futuristic disco-era Stones. I’ve been DJing a lot and it’s always fun playing Corfu remixes and stuff I’m working on. In terms of the visuals, it’s funny, when you have full branding control and capabilities for your own project it becomes sort of daunting for some reason. I’m way more comfortable creating for other people. I guess because when it comes to your own stuff you have 9 million ideas and can’t settle on one. There’s almost too much inspiration there, I think that’s kind of why a lot of artist’s solo albums are all over the place. People kind of need producers.
CELL VISION: What’s next for you as an artist, musician or just a general human being?
CONSTANTINE GIAVOS:I have a party I DJ called Love Club which me and my buddy Alex started in NYC. I moved to Richmond, VA, so I do the party down here now. It’s a blast, very Paradise Garage, The Loft, etc. I’ve been working on some new Corfu stuff on and off, new remixes as well. Being a dad, introducing my daughter to new music is always inspiring. Also, opening restaurants down here in Richmond and making sure that the creative elements, from interior design to branding, are in tip-top shape.
You can purchase the Cell Vision x Constantine Giavos' Limited Edition Shirt, listen to a Corfu remix, and connect with Giavos on Instagram using the links below.