This is my column in our b2zone magazine, where I feature artists which are members of the b2zone artwork collection group. We have so many various artists of great talents and skills, and I introduce them to you via this column. Stay tuned!
Featured artist Eleana Antonopoyloy
Eleana Antonopoyloy is a self-taught leather artisan from Athens, the capital of Greece. She had her first contact with leather while she was studying architecture in Crete, the largest of the Greek islands and one with a long history in leather crafting. There is a large number of leather crafters in Crete who produce various types of work with this ancient material. One day in 2009, Eleana was asked by a friend if she could make him a leather tobacco pouch because he was tired of the poor quality of the commercial ones. Never having done anything like this, Eleana felt rather insecure at first, wondering if she would be able to achieve the goal. Her friend mentioned that if Eleana was able to design buildings, she would also be able to create a tobacco pouch. Eleana accepted the challenge. This was her very first leather project, so she did not own any working equipment or had any knowledge about the craft.
However, Eleana remembered being highly creative as a child, making her own toys out of paper and other materials she had at hand. It took her five months to gather all the required tools, materials, patterns, and tutorials. Eventually, after becoming familiar with it all, she finished her first tobacco pouch. The final result gave her much satisfaction and excitement, and it lit the flame to continue working with leather. Out of the spare material from her first project, Eleana created several other pouches that she gave to her friends as gifts. Eleana never took any classes nor did anyone show her how to work with leather. She found her very own way of crafting. Not too long after she crafted her new creations, Eleana discovered pyrography as a great way to decorate her work. It took her one year to learn about the different kinds of leather, to find suppliers, and to learn how to do pyrography on leather. Eleana uses soft, semi-vegetal tanned leather for her pouches and full vegetal tanned leather for other items. She finds her inspiration in nature and in her own emotions; working with leather always makes her happy and fulfilled. She loves to draw maps, animals, trees, portraits and manga characters. By giving her items a vintage look, Eleana makes them even more.
Featured artist Annika Persson
Annika Persson, born in 1972, is a Swedish painter from a small village called Staffanstorp. She grew up in a down-to-earth family of workers and farmers. Annika would draw and paint whenever she had the chance, even during lessons, often frustrating her schoolteachers. Drawing and painting were things she could trust; things at which she was always convinced to be good. Growing up, she wanted to become either a painter or a storyteller. Her family shook their heads in disbelief, wondering what the source of such silly and unrealistic ideas could be. They were of the mindset that she should get a proper job instead of chasing dreams. As life continued, her painting career aspirations were downgraded to just a hobby. Annika worked herself though many occupations: selling soft serve and handmade jewelry at the beach in Puerto Rico or the Canary Islands, running a boutique with her best friend, and working as a waitress and a care assistant. Four years ago, Annika moved back to Sweden and bought an old but pretty and quirky cottage, where she now lives.
She works as a Transportation supervisor at present. Her vivid imagination and her nomadic spirit often have her wonder about the meaning of life, and about what happens before and after it. Looking for answers, she even spent five years studying religion and ancient Hebrew at the University of Lund. Life and a never-ending stream of fascinating dreams are her main sources of inspiration. Painting, the only constant throughout all the years of change, is a therapy for her soul as much as a way to process the challenging lessons in life. Annika has often been called a naïve artist and a surrealist painter by critiques, but sees herself as a symbolist. She admires Salvador Dalí and Marc Chagall, yet her style is completely different. She began with watercolors in her twenties, moved on to oils in her thirties, and to acrylics in her forties. Annika paints what she finds in her heart, which makes her feel relaxed, balanced, and happy. Her work has been exhibited in London, Florence, and Skanör. In April 2017, she published her first book “Stardust and precious grains of wisdom: paintings and poems.” Through her art, Annika wishes to tell stories. Her goal is to make those who view her artwork feel good, providing hope and reassurance to those who need it.