Fotis Gerakis’ urban artwork consists of a series of wooden skateboard decks painted with spray paint, markers, and watercolour pencils. The use of portraits of divas Fairuz and Sabah on the skateboard deck reflects on the role of urban youth in a country’s identity.
Greek-American Fotis Gerakis discovered that the use of skateboard decks was an innovative way to combine his different areas of interest. Urban and edgy material can be utilized to produce fine art with a graphic design influence. He was drawn to the limitless styles that skateboard art encompasses and so he decided to make his mark in this genre. The artist has produced skateboard deck art in a variety of styles; some of his pieces are stylized, some are whimsical or nostalgic, while others display his skill in hand lettering or reference various art genres that have influenced him.
Urban pop art
The decks fall into two main styles and subjects; one is a collection of graffiti-style pieces, while the other consists of a series of portraits of iconic women. The portraits of iconic celebrities from the West and the Middle East such as Sophia Loren, Fairuz, Marilyn Monroe and Sabah are depicted. The focus on female Middle Eastern idols is an organic extension of the series, as parallels can be drawn between the idolization of these different women in all parts of the world. Their names have become a part of the vernacular, and are familiar touchstones that unify cultures and societies.
Evoking both commercial appeal and a distinctive interpretation, each woman is placed as the focal point on the skateboard deck, accompanied by a symbol which correlates with her country of origin and the popular culture and vernacular of that country. In a nod to the artist’s graphic design roots, each woman’s name appears in hand-lettered typography, almost as if they are being skillfully rebranded.
The combination of graphic art, graffiti and street art are both immediate and multi-layered, offering an interesting commentary on cultural ownership.
Motion graphic artist and video art director Fotis Gerakis has won Emmy Awards, taught at university and co-founded a design firm in Riyadh and Beirut.