My journey as a bookbinder began during my days at the university where I studied literature and linguistics. My other great passion was handcrafting, especially with leather. If you visited downtown Athens as a tourist in 2006-2008 chances are you’ve seen me next to a subway station selling small leather goods on a portable bench.
One day during a fair I came across a kiosk with handbound books and journals. I was instantly drawn to it and had a moment of realization: this craft combines my two halves – books and handcrafting. I made a few attempts at bookbinding on my own, trying to reverse engineer a binding based on how I imagined it was done. Then I took my best result and began asking around local bookbinders if they would take me as a helper and teach me the craft in return.
Μany binders at the time still carried the old mindset according to which people interested in the craft are potential competitors who will learn the “secrets” and eventually steal their clientele and income. For others it was simply not worth the time and effort to have an apprentice as the financial crisis, which for my country lasted for a decade+, was rearing its head. It was a very difficult time to enter a craft that was changing, becoming more and more niche throughout the world but even more in Greece. Even so, I was intrigued and resolved to try my hand at it.
I spent about a year between two binderies, in which I learned the very basics. However, looking back and having in mind what is considered a proper bookbinding education I consider myself self-taught. It probably won’t sound very romantic but my greatest mentor has been the internet – a sign, I guess, that we’re all the children of our times. This way of learning is longer and not without its setbacks, but it led me to interesting paths I wouldn’t have found myself in otherwise.
I’ve been learning, experimenting and making bindings ever since, trying to discover my creative identity.
I began making my own brass tools soon after I got into bookbinding. The reason was twofold: there was only one engraver who made them locally and I couldn’t afford them!
Toolmaking speaks to the engineer and inventor in me and I fell in love with toolmaking as soon as I was able to make some crude first attempts. I had to learn a lot of new skills, try many things, fail often and constantly improve to create the tools you see available on my site today.
Τools are the extension of the artisan’s hand, the means by which skill is transformed into something tangible. There’s something infinitely fascinating about unlocking the ability to create your own, even more so sharing them with other fellow artisans. It feels like discovering a whole new world underneath the one you are passionate about; entwined with it but completely different, where different rules apply. I make my tools, first and foremost, for the most demanding and unforgiving client there is, myself, knowing I will use them on my own work. As such I want them to feel, look and perform great.
Over the years my toolmaking has evolved alongside my bookbinding skills, one propelling the other forward, and enabling me to introduce new tool sets and revisit my existing ones, improving and expanding them.
Bookbinding through my eyes
One of the reasons I love bookbinding deeply is because it’s an incredible amalgam of crafts and arts, unmatched in the number and variety of craft fields it encompasses. No other craft comes close to it and it is this vastness and depth that I have fell in love with, as it allows me to be many artisans in one (a kind of artisan universalis) and makes every part of me come alive: it is about encasing the human intellect and psyche in a three-dimensional artifact and making sure it is functional, long lasting and beautiful.
Another is that I’m a storyteller at heart and bookbinding allows me to explore that part of me in a multitude of ways, often working “with” the greatest storytellers there ever been.
I believe that what we create and come to own is our mark in time, it speaks of us.
A good craftsman seeks to create something that will be excellent in its making and thus desired. Something that will outlast him. And to do so his creation must be resilient and beautiful, the offspring of skillfulness and taste.