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Meet: Marios Karystios

  • Written byEleanor Harvey
  • Published date 08 October 2021
Manousakis Winery Magnums. Credit: Giorgos Alexandrakis

Marios Karystios is a Graphic Designer who graduated from the Design Studies MA at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2006.

Having spent several years working for large multinationals, in 2011 he decided to move from Athens to Cyprus and set up his own studio. He’s currently the Creative Director for two Cypriot wineries. He spoke to us about his career, and his recent collaboration with Chelsea and Wimbledon graduate Nettie Wakefield.

Photo of Marios
Credit: Marios Karystios

What was your time at CSM like?

I often recall entering the Southampton Row doors back in 2005. The smell of the building, the architecture, the people. Feelings were mixed; you belong to a big creative family, a sense of achievement, a great mixture of cultures where you could see different perspectives and broaden your horizons. A key figure during my time there was our course director Dr Geoff Crook, an inspiring man with great vision who built the concept of Applied Imagination. I remember his office where you would find him among thousands of books in huge piles and a big gravestone with the words: “Design is Dead”. Combined with CSM, living in London is a valuable experience where someone can have access to endless sources of inspiration.

Photo of work by Marios
Maths identity. Credit: Marios Karystios

Can you tell us about your career since you graduated?

After coming back from London, the usual route for a graphic designer was to enter the advertising sector. There weren't many small design studios at that time, so many of us worked in big multinationals. I spent many years in the ad industry doing all kinds of things but I was mostly attracted to TVCs (television commercials). Apart from the huge pressure, there was a lot of fun and excitement too. Around 2011 the recession impacted the sector, many agencies shut down and a lot of people were left with no job. That was when I decided to take a leap and moved from Athens to my grandfather’s village in Cyprus to start my own studio. Working on my own after so many years under strict guidelines has given me the chance to restart, push my creativity, experiment and take risks. Slowly I established a network of like-minded clients and colleagues in order to produce work that I believe will distinguish them and reveal their philosophies.

Tin of flakes of single-use soap
One-use soap for Snob Duck. Credit: Nikos Koustenis

You’re now the Creative Director for two Cypriot wineries. Can you tell us about your roles? What do you do day-to-day?

Apart from the obvious graphic work I consult and offer strategic decisions that might vary from their marketing approach to their exports but I have also other clients in Greece and abroad. A typical day starts around 8. Then depending on the ongoing projects, the rest of my time is usually varied. There is no 9-5 schedule. I try to finish the office work early. In the afternoons I mostly do research, reading books or things that do not involve laptop work and spend more time with the family and in nature.

Gif of wine bottle turning around
Hartman Molavi. Credit: George Anastasakis

Earlier this year you launched a limited edition rose, with a design by Nettie Wakefield, a Chelsea and Wimbledon graduate. How did this collaboration come about?

I admire Nettie's work, especially her reverse portrait series. I like working with different people from around the world in my projects so I felt that for the specific concept it was the right time to approach Nettie and work together. She accepted and it was a great collaboration.

Bottle of rose wine with an illustration of the back of a woman's head on the label
Minthy wine by Makarounas Winery. Credit: Nikos Koustenis

Is there a story behind the designs?

Minthy is the name that Theodoros, owner of Makarounas Winery wanted to give to the wine. In mythology, Minthy was a river nymph. Hades was dazzled by her beauty and their love affair made his wife turn Minthy into the garden mint. So we do not see her face on the label, as we don't know how she looked, we can see the beauty and sensuality from the hair and figurine which Nettie captured perfectly. Leaves of mint coming out of her hair complete the sense of the myth.

Close-up photo of the lable of a bottle of rose wine
Minthy wine by Makarounas Winery. Credit: Nikos Koustenis

What advice would you give to final year students? Is there anything you wish you’d known when you graduated?

I think there is no secret recipe to a successful career, whatever success means to someone. For me working in the art and design field is an endless path. A path that you have to keep walking in search of new things that will lead you to atypical outcomes. Sometimes you have to turn, go uphill even face a dead end and dare to change your route.

When I graduated I had clearly understood that there’s a long way in front of me. In hard times, which are not only at the beginning of someone’s career, I always try to apply some basic principles I’ve learned like being thankful, slowing down and feeding my imagination.

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