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John Mavroudis’ works have been awarded and talked about, often going as far as to make a mark on society.

John Mavroudis

It feels nice to see that your work is recognized and has an impact

Text: Dimitra Kechagia | Photographs: John Mavroudis' Archive
MAVROUDIS
John Mavroudis

John Mavroudis’ works have been awarded and talked about, often going as far as to make a mark on society.

He might as well have been born in Athens or in Dublin, according to his official resume. In reality, illustrator John Mavroudis was born in California, son to an Irish-American mother and a Greek father, who was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. Even though he’s only been twice in Greece, this does not deter him from embracing it as his mental homeland.

John Mavroudis is considered one of the most influential political voices in the US, while two of his works have been bestowed with the “Best Cover of the Year” award. Αward-winning is not an end in itself for John Mavroudis, as his goal is to rise up to his own high standards. “It is essential that you feel proud of what you do and it is important to be a harsh judge of your own work,” he pints out. A benchmark in his professional career came when TIME magazine entrusted him for the first time with its cover. “When the cover of this issue was bestowed with the “Cover of the Year” award, I felt I had lived up to the trust placed in me. I will always be grateful for this break.” In 2019, the movie lovers of Thessaloniki had the opportunity to become first-hand acquainted with John Mavroudis’ work, as he was chosen to design the poster of the anniversary 60th Thessaloniki Film Festival.

John Mavroudis believes it’s his duty to comment on the current affairs of the political agenda and “if that qualifies me as an activist, so be it,” as the way he sees it, artists need to speak up and raise their voice. “The main thing is to work your way into the heart of the audience,” he explains. As to the stunning popularity of Donald Trump’s typographic portrait, John Mavroudis attributes it to the fact that “it illustrated society’s deep anger over his election.” On a daily basis, he receives an immense number of messages sent by people whom he has touched with his work, while some of his creations keep popping up right in front of him in the least expected moments – even in the form of a tattoo. “I once received an e-mail by someone what had a drawing of mine tattooed on his leg; it looked so cool. It kind of feels nice to see your work recognized and having an impact.” What’s also nice for him is to see his daughter, Athena, filled with pride every time she comes across a work of her dad online.

In the aftermath of the recent American elections, he can’t fail to notice that “the feeling of joy is somewhat restrained, as we become aware of the magnitude of the problems America is faced up against.” He considers President-elect Joe Biden “a compassionate man”, presuming that will try to reunite his divided – as he calls it – country. “He is equipped with the most fundamental quality (along with wisdom) a President could have: empathy. Truly, an uplifting change is in store, as Donald Trump was pure poison. Let’s hope that he ends up in jail, instead of remaining an active part of the political scenery. In any case though, the peril of toxic hate politics will always lurk around the corner.”

Proud of his Greek roots
John Mavroudis could easily picture himself and his family moving to Greece some day. “I am proud of my roots and I grew up learning about the breathtaking cultural heritage of this wonderful country.” He is fascinated by Greek mythology, and his daughter is reading the same books he read as a child. “I love so many things concerning Greece. I cherish Kazantzakis’ writings, as well as Homer’s epic tales.” John Mavroudis is currently reading the book God is my witness by Makis Tsitas, a gift offered by the writer himself. He goes crazy for Greek foods, especially pasticcio, stuffed grape leaves and galaktoboureko (a dessert of semolina custard baked in phyllo), while the family’s new puppy “Louko” was named after his beloved loukoumádes (pastry made of leavened and deep fried dough soaked in syrup or honey). He would be happy if he could eat feta cheese and Kalamata olives every single day of his life, and in his dreams he pictures himself coming to Greece, sitting on an open-air café, listening to Greek music and drinking retsina. Needless to say, of course, that these dreamy fantasies take place in a post-pandemic era. “All this will soon come to an end, marking the biggest celebration experienced by mankind ever since the ending of World War II,” John Mavroudis concludes.

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