Leeds based lecturer & designer Lefteris Emmanuel Heretakis talks to Iliada Kothra and to New Diaspora about his work abroad. By Iliada Kothra
Why did you have to leave Greece?
I began my studies in the UK in 1995, spent some years working in London, and then moved back to Athens. For the past 6 years I have been working as a designer as well as a lecturer for Teeside University. I have always been passionate about design education, and the UK welcomed me back, offering me this opportunity.
What about ”Heretakis & Associates”?
Heretakis & Associates is a group of freelancers working together as needed to best serve the brief at hand. We are guided by proactive commitment to our partners’ needs with electrifying originality, sound judgement, and strict morals. We specialize in a wide range of creative projects, ranging from handmade corporate identity to effective web design; from tailor-made illustration to eye-popping publishing and everything in between, above and below the line. We are fluid energy, pure oxygen and lucid water in all areas where Visual Communication is paramount.
What is visual communication about, if not to subvert the familiar, shed new light on commonplace situations. We have the possibility to store entire libraries in a pocket-sized stick, but our own memory is constantly written and deleted by the overwhelming flow of images and sounds, rushing before us. This has resulted in us ignoring and dismissing a large amount of information a priori, without looking closely at the meaning it may possibly contain. It is our responsibility to remedy this consumption. One of the solutions is to alter the amount, content and quality of what we are bombarded with everyday. We live in our cozily created reality bubble. It is time to burst it and see what happens.
Are you satisfied with your everyday life conditions there?
What I have learned is that in the UK, life is wonderful during working hours, and gets more complicated afterwards. In Greece, it seems to be the opposite. Working is complicated, but then one is rewarded by the options available to them in their spare time.
Which is the biggest difference between two countries?
The biggest difference is in morality and job satisfaction. In general, people in the UK are satisfied by what they do for a living, because they do not work just to get paid, but seek a greater moral satisfaction. They mostly help one another in the best way they can. This is not always the case in Greece.
The people you work with, do they have a negative or an optimistic point of view about Greece?
Right now there is no information about Greece in the news in the UK. It is as if the problems have gone away. So the general public is ill-informed. As Francis Bacon once famously said, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
What does Europe need the most right now? Powerful leaders, new ideas, more startupers?
This crisis is a moral crisis. The level of international corruption is unprecedented and this is reflected in Europe and the rest of the world as well. Startups can be a double-edged sword. What the world needs is a spirit of collaboration. We must leave anything that separates us aside, and start working with the things that unite us. Europe is not properly united at the moment, as this monetary union did not happen with the right conditions. We need the same quality of life across the EU and that requires a much greater level of genuine international collaboration.
Your next business goals?
I would like to focus more on my career as a designer as well as an educator as a means of service to others.
What is the biggest obstacle -from your point of view- about being productive and successful in Greece?
As a nation, we must play to our strengths. Thus far, we seem to have adopted the more inappropriate characteristics of Western culture. However, the West has positive attributes to give us like fair play, honesty and reciprocity. Historically the biggest obstacle of our culture has always been working together in a truly meaningful way. I feel that most of us are satisfied by living life on the surface. Swimming in deep waters can be scary, but pearls can only be found there. We must develop the willingness to deepen our relationships on all levels, with ourselves as well as others. Forming strong relationships based on deep love and respect will take us out of the situation we have presently found ourselves in. It seems that we are forced to fit into the same box as Greeks in this country by some strange reasons. There are some incredibly talented people in this country. We must make use of them in an honest way and allow freedom of acceptance, developing a greater empathy, respecting each other for who we truly are. Let’s celebrate our differences and work together in love, peace, and harmony.
Eventually… Greece is just a place for summer holidays or something more than that?
Greece has been, is and will always be inside me as a state of thinking, feeling and will. We have a potential freedom of expression as inheritance in this country. This is something that never goes away. There is something truly magical about it that can only be experienced, not described.