Silvia Kraemer at her 100% Greek shop on the island of Serifos in the Cyclades. Photo: Courtesy of Silvia Kraemer
SERIFOS – Silvia Kraemer created her own brand, 100% GREEK – Limited Art Editions, in 2020 and opened an atelier/shop on Serifos island in the Cyclades. It was her dream for many years and it became reality. Kraemer shared her story with The National Herald.
My Personal Story
I was born in Germany and raised abroad – Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, United States, Brazil, Taiwan, and many more ‘stop-overs’ in other countries…
The travel bug stayed inside me, especially after living in all these colorful and exotic places with exciting culture and mentalities. It became my inspiration and I kept these impressions on paper since young.
A block of paper and some pens were always with me moving countries and homes, on countless airplane travels or accompanying my parents at dinner parties sitting on a carpet, drawing.
My parents kept a lot of my early drawings; they became a very personal travel-sketch-collection from all over the world. I still own the Crayola Crayons box from the U.S., and I remember my amazing Faber-Castell pencil box from Brazil, and the Chinese ink-set with an ink-stone and several brushes I got when living in Taiwan, and also learning at school how to draw Chinese letters.
At the age of 14 when I was at high school, I did my first advertising: a small leaflet for a break-dance performance at a local dance school. Followed by graffiti spraying, painting/spraying on sweaters, t-shirts, track suits – and even hand-illustrating sneaker ribbons…
My favorite music then was Hip Hop and Funk and, of course, the favorite movie was Wild Style. Every Friday, I designed by hand the poster-of-the-night/weekend for the local famous disco ‘MIAMI’ and… in secret (during my last year at high school) I was working at a photographer’s studio learning various hand-printing methods.
After finishing school, I went with my art-portfolio to Enschede (Netherlands) to apply at the Fine Art School AKI – Academie voor Beeldend Kunst en Industrie Design. Shortly after, I passed the admission test and became a student. Main subjects were, amongst others, illustration, painting, fashion design, audio-visual design, sculptural design, photography, art history, etc,
I continued my studies in Germany at the University of Applied Science, specializing in concept and design, illustration, photography and art history and graduated in 1991 as a Dipl. Designer in Visual Communication – nowadays MA. Simultaneously, during these years of studying graphics, I also studied at university arts and sports.
To finance my studies, I was working at several advertising agencies as a freelancer, at a vinyl shop, in a club as a DJ, as well as host at ‘The Beat Is On’ cable channel/TV live music show presenting Soul, Funk, and Hip Hop video-clips every Thursday.
After my studies I moved to Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore. Restless.
Working as a freelance-designer and Art/Creative director with amazing projects with international agencies as McCann Erickson, JWT/ Spot Thompson and with my own clients such as (only to name a few, the list will be tooooo long): Adidas, Thyssen-Krupp, Planet Golf, Bretz, Encode, Playmobil, Texter, Warner Lambert, Abbott, Cyanamid, Sony, Soulis, Isopipe, McCain, Veltins, Carl MFG Japan, Schreyögg, Elektra, Lowara, Setra, Mercedes Benz, Chrysler Jeep, TruckStore, Royal Canin, Saturn/Media Markt, the Athens Diplomatic Club, and German embassy.
For a couple of years I worked as a business development manager in Greece, Germany and Singapore. The graphics I did only as an extra on the side, but it stayed my passion.
Before mainly becoming a part of the digital world, I decided to step out and draw by hand again and go on with my own style.
Eccentric colors moved over for black strong lines. Complex pictures turned into simple expressive illustrations. I was remembering an illustration I had done during my studies: an orchestra with black lines on white cardboard. This illustration became, many years later, the ‘beginning’ of 100% GREEK. I had done this during my studies. All black and white lines, funny looking faces, a bit exaggerated, but fun characters.
And then the Greek themes came in my mind… donkeys, cats, gods, typical Greek scenes.
I named it the ‘Ble Mati Collection – 100% Greek.’ My friend insisted on 100% Greek as a name and 100% GREEK was born!
100% GREEK…and the Medusa
In mythology no one dared to look in Medusa’s eyes. And if someone did, (s)he turned to stone. Her hair – alive snakes – she used as an offensive weapon. Her hands with dangerous sharp claws to scratch. Only her voice was said to be extremely persuasive and charming.
The 100% GREEK Medusa looks straight into your eyes. Seductive, yet cheeky with a glimpse of humor. The snakes, nice and neatly rolled up on curlers. The hands, coquettishly on her hips. This Medusa is far away from grannies in bunny slippers, nightgowns, and hair rollers.
And… she is not only Greek, but also Serifian. Lovable and mysterious… Giving you this irresistible look. She is the mascot of my brand… She is a unique symbol and strong.
She is 100% Greek.
The business story
With a long story – being in Greece and loving its culture, people and life – I created my own brand in 2020 and opened an atelier/shop on Serifos island. It was a dream I had for many years and became reality.
100% GREEK – Limited Art Editions
The dream to create something unique and memorable became a small world on its own…
My passion for art and design, colors, fabrics – and love for Greece – inspired me to create the brand 100% GREEK Limited Art Editions.
Funky and fun illustrations put a smile on your face.
All figures and themes I draw have a personal story. Some I am telling you, others remain secret. Some lead to your own experience, memory – or they connect you to something or someone.
Handcrafted, Greek, and ecological without ‘leaving a footprint,’ [the brand uses] natural fabrics, durable printing and high quality, all made locally and all handpicked by me.
100% GREEK is based on Greek daily scenes, on typical Greek characters, which I draw in a simple and funny way. Both foreigners and Greeks love these funky drawings and items. Not only because they are all illustrated by hand and handcrafted, but also because one recognizes things he has ‘lived’ and seen in Greece. It brings the Greek culture closer to people. The history, the mythology, habits and everyday life and also the island of Serifos (I created two different maps for the island).
With this concept I design t-shirts, bags, art prints, home decor, gifts for your loved ones and little things to pamper yourself. Small editions which I make by hand and with the help of two or three local (individual) suppliers and like that support small businesses in the local market.
Once these items are sold out, they are gone…
My goal is to create something unique and special, something people don’t see anywhere else.
The production is more costly than doing a mass production. Some fabrics are handwoven (linen), most come from Greece and are made of Greek cotton, some fabrics (antique!) are upcycled. Printing methods are environmentally friendly. I am trying to use up as much as possible of the ‘ingredients’ to have no waste.
In this sense, explore, enjoy, and dive into your own 100% Greek adventures…
Silvia Kraemer’s 100% GREEK shop is located at the Plateia Ano Chora, Serifos, Cycladic Islands, Greece. More information is available online: https://100percentgreek.gr/.
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