BH meets Filippos Fragkogiannis

Semiotics, symbolism and the mechanics of visual language

Filippos Fragkogiannis is an Athens based freelance graphic designer and art director with a focus on typography, print design and visual identity. His projects center around visual identities, posters, and print collateral, and he regularly enhances type foundries with bold imagery.

With an MA in Visual Communication, and a BA in Graphic Design from Vakalo Art & Design College and the University of Derby, his research-based approach is rooted in semiotics, symbolism and the mechanics of visual language.


How did you become a designer?

Going back, I think a number of experiences shaped me, and lead me towards graphic design, like my decade-long involvement in graffiti since the age of 14. Tags, names, and letters were the main elements we were spraying in the streets at the time. This premediated injection of verbal forms in the public space has much in common with the way posters make walls speak. No wonder why my early steps as a graphic designer was making posters for school parties, graffiti stores, and rap artists’ concerts. At the same time, I was, and still am, drawn to language, and its capacity to determine, disseminate, and establish any given information. The way the written word can be archived, shared, printed, and reproduced always interested me. Studying graphic design was a conscious choice, and all of the above not only played a key role in me following this path, but also in adopting a type-focused approach from early on.

How would you define your vision of design, your style?

My interest lies in the way language is used in visual communication and guides our interpretation of society. Whether it’s for advertising, propaganda, political discourse, or the expression of feelings, language is a powerful tool. So, I explore the capacities of this tool to produce designs based on simple forms and condensed meanings, that can make as big an impact as possible. In terms of approach, my design could be described as sharp, transparent, and plain-spoken. It calls for the viewers’ attention and tries to earn their trust, all the while allowing for multiple interpretations. I want the outcome to be direct and honest, to serve its purpose, and get the message across in a straightforward manner. I’m all for a simple, truthful, and type-centered design. I try to avoid adopting one style or another. Instead, I develop a creative methodology that moves from accumulation to condensation and abstraction.



First, I do a comprehensive research on the given subject, gather all the necessary information, then I process these materials, find a sensible hierarchy between them and, finally, take out everything that seems unnecessary or redundant. I experiment a lot, and reject many attempts before arriving at a final result that would be fulfilling to both me and the client. Avoiding verbiage is my main concern, since we live in saturated times in terms of visual and verbal stimuli. I also try to avoid risky certainties and prejudice. My intention is to communicate, through design, messages that speak a universal language and are addressed to a wider, international audience. I aim for designs that are simple, easily recognizable, and aesthetically appealing to the viewer.

A designer or studio you admire?

Artists working conceptually with typography and text in public space such as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Lawrence Weiner, John Fekner and Josephine Kaeppelin always interested me. At the same time, my designs reflect my affection for fonts, and I’m always eager to collaborate with exciting type designers. Typefaces, to me, are a true inspiration. I think of them as vessels for concepts, moods, and gestures. To spark my creativity, type foundries are my go-tos.

Could you tell us about any of your projects?

A project reflecting my type-oriented approach is my work for NOMAS Magazine, a travel edition for visually wandering the world. Among other things, I got to imagine the code system of the featured countries for which I picked National Codes Pi with the aim of highlighting the font’s application both on paper and online. On the masthead of the magazine, I colored three codes in red, green and blue to hint at both the RGB system and the online continuation of the project.


Another great experience was enhancing online presence with new features, pushing the envelope further. Along with Georgia Harizani, we created the company’s Instagram and Facebook shops, a Google My Business listing with a comprehensive font directory, and added the finishing SEO touches to their website. Needless to say, designing the foundry’s first AR filter on Instagram was so much fun. You should try it!

What do you like the most in your job?

To me, graphic design is a practice filled with excitement. From concept to design, printing, and delivery, it’s applied nature allows one to have a tangible outcome eager to start a conversation with its end receiver. It’s a practice that’s fueled by interaction and human contact. Therefore, as a graphic designer, I always felt a sense of responsibility about how my work questions and contributes to the values of our society and culture. In addition, graphic design is enlightening on a personal level. Working on visual communication made me more observant, more alert to details, more aware of the appearance and structure of things. It helped me improve both my communication skills and my critical thinking. Last but not least, as I go deeper into signs, symbols, and the metalingual function of language, it gives me a thrill to navigate and try to decode today’s information-saturated world.

For the future, what are your professional projects?

Right now, I’m working on expanding my outreach online and offline, introducing my work to a wider audience, and developing new collaborations with creatives and clients that are open to bold, radical, and unexpected design. Collaboration, to me, is as important as self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of one’s own interests, skills, and needs. I’m trying to find the right balance between research, commercial and personal projects, and collaborate with brands that value design as an asset, and understand its potential to deliver results and lead to renewal. I plan to continue to celebrate contemporary design through blogging, and I am heading towards the future with the desire to push my creativity further, and keep trying to bring something new to the table.

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