Many important artists have worked on designing and adapting the illustrations of the Greek stamps over time.
Here is a brief and informative presentation of the older ones along with some of their characteristic creations.
Giannis Kefallinos (1894-1957)
Giannis Kefallinos was born in Alexandria from a bourgeois family from Cephalonia and Chios. Excellent student, he soon followed his artistic inclination, studied Art History and painting in France, where he lived for several years.
He settled in Greece in 1930, when he was elected as a professor at the School of Fine Arts one year later. He organized the Engraving Lab by perfecting this technique.
The art of the book was of great interest to him during his stay in France as well as in Greece, and he also collaborated with Hellenic Post (1950-54) by creating stamps that have received international distinctions.
He was never interested in showing his work, thus justifying the characterization “The Silent”, which P. Prevelakis gave him in his obituary. He accepted that only two completed works of his would be presented to the public: The Peacock (1946) and the Ten White Lecythi (1956).
Kefallinos’ relationship with his students was never typical: he was interested and cared for them like a father. His inherent goodness (the relatives called him “Kalogiannis” i.e. Good John) and the sense of solidarity and justice prompted him to defend the weak and the peace.
In 1954 he was elected Director of the Athens School of Fine Arts, a post he held until his death. Under his leadership, the School will show interest in and take a stand on issues of culture, liberty or human rights – issues that have always been of concern to him as he considered life as a primary value without ideological dogmatism: conscientious objection during the First World War and the Asia Minor Expedition of the Greek Army, he produced with his pupils the posters that encouraged the Greek people during the war of 1940 and supported the struggle of Cyprus against the English occupation.
Anastasios Alevizos (1914 – 1985)
Anastasios Alevizos, known by the artistic pseudonym Tassos. Tassos attended engraving classes at the other great painter Giannis Kefallinos from 1933 until graduating from the School of Fine Arts (1939). He studied in Paris, Rome and Florence. At the Pan-Hellenic Art Exhibition of 1938 he received the Engraving Award and in 1940, the State Engraving Award. His acquaintance with Demetrius Galanis, an important engraver of the interwar period, seems to have been decisive.
With the declaration of the Greco-Italian War in 1940, Tassos, like other Kefallinos’ students, made posters for the encouragement of the Greek people. With the German Occupation, he joined the EPON and EAM (Resistance Organization) Artists, continuing, underground, the production of propaganda material against the Germans.
After the liberation, Tassos began to deal with other issues besides the war, such as naked, still life and portraits, while at the same time he began to use color in his woodcuts.
Graduating in 1939, he made covers and decorative clichées for the literature journal Nea Estia. Immediately after the end of the German Occupation, he took over the artistic direction of the publishing house “The New Books”, founded by the Greek Communist Party, in 1945 and closed in 1948.
In 1948 he began to work with the School Book Publishing Organization. The fruit of his collaboration with SBPO was the illustration of many books for the Primary and Secondary Schools, at first with the 1949 textbook for the 6th Class of the Elementary School.
In 1948 he became an artistic consultant for the Aspiotis-Elka lithography, and from 1954 to 1967 he designed stamps on behalf of the Hellenic Post, while from 1962 until his death, he designed stamps of the Republic of Cyprus. In 1959 he took over the Department of Graphic Arts at the Athenian Institute of Technology, where he taught until 1967.
Panagiotis Gravalos (1933-2015)
Panagiotis Gravalos studied painting at the School of Fine Arts at the great painters, Spyros Papaloukas and Giannis Moralis.
Professor of Engraving Giannis Kefallinos saw his excellence in engraving, advised him to follow the Engraving Art. His collaboration, however, with the great engraver A. Tassos, turned him towards the Graphic Arts and the applied arts.
Considering the social and educational role of the art and the artist, Panagiotis Gravvalos taught Engraving at the Athenian Technological Institute of the Doxiades School from 1961 until 1967. He was a founding member of the Center for Visual Arts.
From 1966 to 1993 he was a permanent collaborator of the Greek Post and designed many series of postage stamps, most of them honored with international awards.
In 1971 in the world contest in Warsaw, a poster of sport content was awarded with the 1st prize and has been exhibited since at the Museum of Graphic Arts in Poland.
From 1986 to 2000 he was an artistic partner of the Ionian Bank.
Designed many of the lapel pins for the Athens Olympics, he also designed the 24 official Collectors’ Coins issued by the Bank of Greece’s Mint, including 8 Gold and 16 Silver, while he also had the art director for the design of the Olympic and Paralympic Medals of the Games.
Demetrius Biskinis (1891-1947)
Biskinis came from a family of hagiographers. He settled in Athens in 1900, along with his mother and older brother, where he enrolled next year at the Polytechnic Department of Painting, with Volanakis, Roilos, Iakovidis and Geraniotis as teachers. In 1914 he obtained a scholarship for higher studies in Paris through the Averoff Competition, but moved only after the end of the WW I in 1919, attending the Julian and Grande Chaumiere Academies, while exhibiting at the Salon des artistes francais. He returned to Athens in 1923 when he was appointed as a professor at the School of Fine Arts in 1928.
During his stay in Paris, Biskinis comes into contact with the occult beliefs that dominated the artistic circles. D. Biskinis, fled to dreams, to the world of the subconscious, to illuminate and consecrate the inevitable reality of death.
Among his students are Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Nikos Engonopoulos, Assadour Baharian, Paris Prekas and Panagiotis Tetsis.
He was a friend with the poet Kostis Palamas and he illuminated many of his works.