Two languages with a common bond: Seta Zakian

During a random search through Instagram I saw the work of greek designer and lettering artist, Seta Zakian. My family came from Greece. I heard greek most of my life. I understand greek but I don’t speak it well. When I’m communicating via social media, I like to drop a greek word into a post. When I contacted Seta to see if she was available to answer some questions, I tossed a few greek words into my email. I thought it was a good way to connect. She responded – in fluent english.

I admire Seta’s work for the blend of greek and english words in her work. She composes her characters masterfully. Her work is colorful, light, and playful. You can feel the joy. Thank you, Seta, for sharing your work and story.

1. Your name and title/business name? Country location?

I am a graphic designer and letterer from Athens, Greece. The name of my business is Setaprint, but for my lettering design I just use my name, Seta Zakian.

2. What’s your educational and professional background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?

I went to a Greek high-school in Athens and then attended Vakalo School of Design, a local art school, where I specialized in graphic design. I continued my studies with a Graphic Design Bachelor degree from London College of Printing, where my work started to get more typographic.

Once back from London, I worked in Saatchi & Saatchi as an Art Director for six years specializing in print and packaging. I left advertising to start my own freelance practice, Setaprint, on 2002. Since then I have been doing graphic design work on and off, while raising our three kids.

A few years ago, I took an online calligraphy course on Skillshare and that led me to the hand-lettering courses by my favourite letterer Mary-Kate McDevitt!

Since then I have been focusing more on lettering design and illustration and slowly taking commissions.

ATHENA final

3. Preferred tool(s) and medium?

I use pencil to draw the rough sketches and basic layout, and also for the final sketch. I trace the final drawing with ink (Mikron Sakura pens). Then I scan everything and turn them into vector art. I “assemble” everything digitally in Adobe Illustrator where I play with color alternatives. Once I decide on the color palette, I transfer everything in Adobe Photoshop in different layers. I finalize the work, adding texture and some interesting effects that make the final artwork look like it has been hand-drawn. Sometimes I would use brush pens for a handmade texture.

Pencil sketch for Athena

4. Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, meditation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?

The combination of travelling and travel photography definitely recharges my creative battery. I enjoy reading my two favorite magazines: Uppercase and Flow, over a good cup of latte and a chocolate cake. I also love browsing Instagram to find lettering inspiration. Sometimes a small power nap will also help to recharge.

5. Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.

I admit I am an internet addict. I keep a design blog, my personal visual archive, where I share beautiful and cool work that inspires me. Sometimes I spend too much time discovering new artists around the world, but my blog satisfies my inner need to share all this beautiful work.