Yannis Vakirtzis, poster for the movie «Stella»

Yannis Vakirtzis, poster for the movie «Stella»

Calligraphy à la greka

Stella project is an attempt to study the forgotten art of greek calligraphy that flourished from the ’50s through the ’70s – an indirect conversation with the colleagues of the past. It’s a study on the tools and techniques of the time, a work of classification, documentation and adaptation of these special styles to modern media and communication tools.

The sources

During this period, advertisement is based on the use of calligraphy: the facades of cinemas are filled every week with a variety of posters, painted by hands of great artists. Self-taught craftsmen maintain and evolve the art of popular label throughout Greece.


The documentation starts by photographing the signs of the city’s shops. Many still survive, others remain ghosts of a bygone era over abandoned facades. Numerous special script styles are recorded. We observe extensive use of bold types and expressive elements of capitals combined with cursive lowercase. Neon lighting is also very often used in shop logos. When letters are painted by hand, they are crafted with thick brushes. The forms are rooted in classical calligraphy and many Byzantine elements are detected; the artist often invent imaginative ways to deviate from the norm and add his personal touch.


“Greca”, “Alektor”, “Phaethon”, are typical names of the companies of this era. They create the advertisements published in the daily press and magazines. In advertisement, the art of calligraphy is blooming, because, unlike the international shift towards modernism –and in the absence calligraphic fonts– the greek approach to promoting the modernized western way of living is based on handmade calligraphy, which is predominantly used to visualize the slogans of the new lifestyle.


The practice of calligraphy is also extensively observed on book covers and magazines of the time. The differentiation, often desired or demanded by the publishers – the need to create unique graphics is often based on calligraphic letters.


Calligraphy and lettering is found in almost all packaging applications, many of which still stand today, in small businesses throughout Greece. A large variety of scripts decorates the packaging material for bakeries, taverns, pastry shops, photography studios, dry cleaners, department stores etc. Usually the writing is fluent, with stunning finishes and exuberant capitals.

As an epilogue

The surplus value of a product is emitted when it incorporates the memory of it’s origin, strengthening its identity. Today, how one should design the packaging for Naxos cheese, for a pastry shop in Metaxourgio, Athens, for delights from Serres? These are the questions that must be answered. This process, the modernization of our heritage, the instinct that makes us preserve our cultural products, this is the Stella Project.