Thessaloniki-born and NYC-based artist Panayiotis Terzis is a man of many disciplines. Not only does he create colour-rich paintings and drawings, inspired by his upbringing in Greece, but he also lends his hands to Risograph printing and publishing at Mega Press, a RisoLab in Manhattan.
For Pan, it all started when he had to make a crucial decision: “There was a period where I didn’t know if I was going to focus on being some kind of visual artist or a writer – probably of fiction – but making images won in the end,” he says. “Losing oneself in the process of making a drawing or painting seemed more appealing than hammering away at a text.”
As a result, Pan ended up at the School of Visual Arts in New York during the early 2000s. Here, he studied with artists such as Peter Heinemann, Gary Panter, Eva and Franco Mattes, Wangechi Mutu and David Sandlin, which subsequently spawned an interest in printmaking – a “central” part to his practice that gave him the “skills of a solid craft”. This new lease of artistry led him to publish work across the board, with prints shown (and bought) at art fairs and exhibitions, and interest from publishers like Picturebox, Inc and Printed Matter. “I became deeply involved in the NYC art book, zine and small publishing scene and the ways in which it overlapped with underground comics.” In 2009, this was a time when his friend started “bugging” him for collaboration, as he’d just got his hands on a new Risograph printing machine. Pan ended up printing his first Riso book on this contraption, with its ease and quality drawing him in within an instant. “I could produce a book edition with the quality of lithography and screenprinting that would take me weeks and hundreds of hours to complete with traditional printmaking techniques, and sell it for a fraction of the price.”
Then, in 2015, he was recruited to co-found the RisoLab printmaking studio at the School of Visual Arts – a lab dedicated to creating accessible and affordable Risograph printing resources for creatives across the disciplines. Alongside this, he’s also a faculty member and teaches printmaking at Parsons at the New York School University in NYC. Alongside this educational arm, Pan makes sure to spend a solid amount of time on his own personal endeavours. “For me, drawing is the foundation of everything and it can be used for logistics and planning, practice through observations and drills, or designing the actual work, whether it’s the underdrawing for a painting or a print. It’s a sort of thinking,” he explains. “I try to draw every day, keeping the pencil and pen moving – like a workout routine.”
Most recently, Pan has launched series of three Risograph prints, commissioned by Michael Olivio of American artist-run gallery, Harpy. The second piece, in particular, is Pan’s most favoured image – featuring a “quiet and lonely Eden scene,” he says. Titled Phaedra in the Garden, the protagonist (Phaedra) appears to be walking out of a simulated world and into a “sterile, white space”. Pan has chosen to surround her with calibration marks, registration marks, labels and numbering, plus his name and signature and other print conventions. “Is this part of the image or is she breaking the ‘fourth wall’ of the printed page?’” Indeed a question to ponder and one that makes you observe this piece with intrigue.
Initially, the original image was drawn in ink on paper, for it to then be scanned, cleaned up and printed out again at 75% scale: “I made traditional colour separations by hand, silkscreen style, which were then scanned in and used as footprints for the additional four colours of the print design.” The final piece sees a five-colour Risograph print edition of 100 signed and numbered copies.
Pan’s portfolio is packed with vibrant and geometric creations, where each reveals a high level of detail as well as a mix of traditional and experimental processes. “I’m happy to provide a visual jolt and charge with beauty, colour and that deadly combo of unique and familiar forms – a visual calibration, an optical tonic that refreshes and resets your retinas,” he adds. Working intuitively, Pan’s work is delectably charged with symbolism – most prominently the relationship between humans, nature and technology.