We discovered The Goblin Market Facebook page a couple of years ago. With great joy, I have to say.
Before long we wanted to learn more about this mysterious and inspiring initiative and we found out that Aristotle Pramagioulis was the master mind behind it. Today we bring you the opportunity to come to know Aristotle and the growing community of The Goblin Market.
An interview with Aristotle Pramagioulis
Q.- Dear Aristotle, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to learn more about you and the projects you are involved in. Some of the members of our community may have never heard about you, would you introduce yourself?
A.- It’s an immense pleasure to speak with Decimononic. I am an art director for an advertising agency and an event company in the States. While I do personal work and freelance for other companies, I think the project I am best known for is the creator, coordinator, and lead art director behind the Goblin Market live events and online community.
Q.- Have you always had a knack for graphic design?
A.- Believe it or not, I first went to school for engineering and then architecture before migrating to design. I was always creating since I was young but as I got closer to higher education, I initially wanted to design things that would have a direct functional use. I quickly became disillusioned by the stark realities of architecture as a career and design opened a whole new world towards me. There was this whole realm of opportunities to design concepts that could take on many different forms. As an artist, the design field also set parameters for practical application that felt like a creative challenge. While I love the freedom of personal projects, there are many “Eureka!” moments that come with working within client’s approval, specific, or specs. In essence, each professional project feels like there are rules to subtly rebel against and find creative solutions.
Q.- which are your main sources of inspiration?
A.- Why, the muses, of course. I jest, I jest.
With each project, I have a fairly complex (others may call it obsessive) research process. I will spend a good amount of time looking into and reading as much information as possible on a specific topic or style. Then I will see how people interpreted and created in this topic in the past. If the artists are contemporary and working right now, I do this as to not step on any toes.
As far as content and message of the images, I always try to dig deeper than the face value of the project. Let’s take Steampunk as an example. The more digging you do, the more you find out how very strange the Victorians were. There are a wealth of lesser known stories, customs, and art that are a treasure trove of inspiration for art and design. For me, this is the wonder of art in the respect that the future will learn, build upon, and develop new concepts from the past.
Q.- As you know, we find great inspiration in the darkest side of the Victorian era. How and when did your interest for all this arise?
A.- I’d be lying if I didn’t flash my late teenage, goth artist badge and say that wasn’t a starting point down the road of dark Victoriana. I have always been interested in the horror genre as a means to tackle and deal with childhood feelings. Yet, even then, there was something more poignant and mysterious about vintage horror than the more “by the numbers” modern offerings.
In college there was one specific class, The Erotic and Grotesque in Art and Culture that really sealed it for me as a source of endless inspiration.
One of the main lessons was a discussion and examination of the artistic “Other” that attempts to break the confines of binary explanations. Towards this end, we examined a variety of topics including Victorian horror. The art and literature during the 19th Century was just brimming with these overt philosophical and societal questions. Also, the very reality of life during that time was still quite harsh for the majority.
For me personally, the 19th Century and the early 20th Century felt like this clash with the arts. Science, logic, and reason was still situating into the minds of Western Civilization while there was this spiritual last breath of superstition.
Q.- How would you describe your the aesthetics of your designs?
A.- I am personally a fan of bold images and designs and I try to reflect that in my own work. There is something about taking direction from older styles and recreating with the sensibilities of the modern world. While most of my work is dark, I find myself using an increasing amount of both warm and cool color to counter balance the darker palette.
There is something to be said about having your message and tone, either direct or inferred, being obvious to the casual viewer. This is not to suggest my work smacks the message in superficial ways.
I have an affinity towards finding the beauty in distress and decay. There are many times where I will use rust textures or have horrific images that works in a delicate and elegant way with consideration to the layout. It’s one thing to have a piece that screams ‘Darkness’ and another thing to have a dark piece that enchants and seduces the viewer.
Q.- ‘Egrégore’ is a concept related to the idea of ‘collective group mind’. It can be rooted back to Victor Hugo, Eliphas Lévi or The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Why have you chosen this name for your artistic endeavours?
A.- I like to believe art and creative endeavors have a breath of life inside of them from the content creators. The Goblin Market is an excellent example of this. With each project and new people participating, it feels as though more geography is being mapped out and populated with these enigmatic beings.
With respect to my art, each project feels to me like a living, breathing thing that becomes more real until completion. I always get a little depressed when a piece is officially done. It feels as though the the work’s symbolic growth has ended and it is now etched in stone.
Q.- Who do you collaborate with creatively?
A.- Typically, I treat most projects as a client and freelancer relationship so you could say my clients are collaborators. Recently, I have had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with Abigail Larson and that was a professional dream come true. Her illustrations and entire portfolio had been an inspiration on the design side of things. To work with her on a playbill for Voltaire’s Wicked NecroComicon was just incredible.
With most projects from The Goblin Market, I reach out to personal friends that have their own artistic pursuits. I want their critique and advice to see if the work is hitting all the visual targets I set forth.
Q.- Day by day you nurture and invigorate The Goblin Market, both as community and creative hub. When and why was this initiative conceived as we know it?
A.- Like most ideas in the USA, it was hatched at a diner late one night. Well the ambiguous concept was devised then. The actual leg work that made it come to life was Jeff Mach events working with an associate Caran Alice. The basic idea of the live event was to create an environment in which people distinctly interested in a darker take of Victoriana would take front stage, center. Our exact pitch was:
The Goblin Market is an exhibition and staged show event that deals with a darker and fictional interpretation of what we refer to as Victoriana (1830-1900), and directly succeeding eras that blend surrealistic themes within a historical context. It draws symbolic inspiration of the Christina Rosetti poem of the same name in the concept of other worldly beings interacting with a human audience to create Faustian deals.
The Goblin Market also reinvents the term “goblin” from its fairy and fantasy roots from folklore and legend. Rather than creatures of mischief and mild mayhem – these are elusive and otherworldly beings that have an insatiable desire for deal and bargain alike. The purpose of these deals is to slowly strip the human rube of their humanity and in some extreme cases, their life.
The Goblin Market’s interpretation of these otherworldly occupants is different than the fairytale renditions. They appear as though human although gaunt, dressed in bizarre arrays of anachronistic fashion, and in some cases have very distinct yellow irises. By their attire and couture they appear interested in Victorian, sideshow, carnivae, and funerary styles. Within their possession, they carry on their person strange, rusted adornments about their clothing that harbor occult purpose. Within their wares are some of the strangest and most curious relics and items. And every item, adornment, or object of fancy is available for trade.
In 2010, Steampunk was really in an upward state on the event scene, and most people focused on the fantastic and science fiction element of the genre. The basic idea about The Goblin Market was to make it more about the occult, superstition, and symbolic qualities.
After that initial live event, I wanted to pursue a more involved and constant approach to the project. We began the social media page as a spotlight for artists that reflected the themes and aesthetics of the Goblin Market. Back then, you had many pages and sites that would host any good images and it was a mixed bag to say the least. Most did not source the artist, and a slim few gave links for the artist. I made it a point to source and present the artists with their work and link to places where interested viewers could support them. The social media aspect took on a new form. It became about presenting and connecting this community of artists and enthusiasts that all enjoyed the same darker and anachronistic look.
Q.- The Goblin Market is linked in some way to The Steampunk World’s Fair. How did you become involved in Jeff Mach Events?
A.- The Goblin Market is an independent project that was born out of work with Jeff Mach Events which is the company behind The Steampunk World’s Fair. The project itself is entirely its own thing that has a close and amiable relationship with the incredible people at Jeff Mach Events. It is confusing from the outside looking in, but our future projects will really change this up a whole lot.
I started working with Mr. Mach back in 2009. Initially, I was trying to pitch and put together a publication for art. I interviewed with Jeff Mach and was really sold on his vision of events and the community based around it. I soon began to work as an artist and then art director for the company.
Some of my favorite projects with JME include the newspaper convention “books” for Steampunk World’s Fair. In that case, we tried to convey all the programming, vending, and content as a faux and fantastic newspaper that might have existed in a Steampunk major city.
Q.- What are some of your future plans down the road?
A.-Well for specifically The Goblin Market, we have in development a series of fiction and art that we are teasing as Project W. This is in response to the many questions we have about an independent world in which The Goblin Market takes place in. I have a small and dedicated team dreaming up ways we can present the world of The Goblin Market in an engaging manner.
I have a couple projects coming up for freelance. I am taking the reins of art directions for an upcoming online magazine for the New York City area regarding culture and dining. As far as events go, I am kind of going where the wind is hitting the sails.
Q.- Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
A.- I am currently recreating my website from the top to the bottom. In the meantime though, I have a page devoted to my portfolio on Facebook which can be found at www.facebook.com/EgregoreDesign.
We want to thank deeply Aristotle’s kindness and collaboration. And remember, do not miss goblinmarketmagazine.com!
Credits.- All images courtesy of Aristotle Pramagioulis