What is the beauty of Greece? When Petros Kaminiotis is the beholder, it is the small and traditional, everyday details of Greek island life. It is the lines of Cycladic architecture, the purpose of a simple chair, and costumes made with love.
You might have heard of Petros, who is 24 and studies marketing and communication at the Athens University of Economics and Business, thanks to “PlaymoGreek,” his art project featuring Playmobil figurines dressed in traditional Greek costume, which you can peek at through the Instagram handle @playmogreek. Meanwhile, on his personal account, @petros_kamin, he shares images from his travels around Greece that show his love for details.
Your Instagram feed highlights typical Cycladic architecture. Is the Cyclades your favorite island group?
Yes, the Greek islands are my favorite places to travel and especially the Cyclades. I love everything about these islands. The rocky landscape in combination with the crystal-clear water, the smiling hospitable people, the culture and, of course, the pure and minimal architecture. These islands boast a kind of flawless scenery, which, at the same time, is so authentic and understated.
What are your favorite things to shoot?
I love minimalism. I like to focus on simple everyday things that we normally don’t pay that much attention to. It’s not a preference – it’s a mindset. By looking at the world like this, you can find the beauty in everything around you. In this way the pallet of potential creations is widely expanded, and my subject matter can vary from a traditional chair to the smile of an old local woman.
You seem to have a thing for traditional chairs! Or is it a coincidence that they’re featured in many of your images?
That’s a typical application of the mindset I mentioned. Traditional chairs are a very common item of our daily life, and inseparably connected with practicality rather than creativity. But they have bright and beautiful colors, and beyond that, I can find a deeper meaning. Placed outside the houses, they are there waiting for friends, family – even tourists – to meet each other and have fun. They are a characteristic example of Greek hospitality.
You’re also a fan of folk culture – that’s evident from your project PlaymoGreek – what do you love about it?
I could talk for hours about the magic of folk culture. The most exciting part of it, in my opinion, is how much traditions vary between places – from region to region and even between neighboring villages. Then, along with those variations, it’s also impressive how you can find great similarities – clues which I use to try and guess the historical and cultural links that tie places together. This is what I aspire to display through PlaymoGreek.
People really love the figurines. Tell us a little bit about that; Where did the idea come from and why do you think they’ve become so popular?
Playmobil was my favorite toy as a child, and this idea actually came to me when I was five. One day, inspired by my traditional dance group and by my great grandmother, who was wearing her traditional costume in her daily life, I put my figures in a circle, like they were dancing. Then I used pieces of paper and napkins to create traditional clothes for them.
As the years went by, I obviously gained more knowledge and my passion for traditional costumes got bigger. So, I made a second effort to dress these figures with exact replicas of traditional costumes – this time with a more advanced technique and better materials. I posted them on my Facebook profile and one day a reporter saw my work and decided to write an article about it. That’s how it began.
Yes, people loved them from the start. I can guess various possible reasons… Maybe the fame of a popular toy. Maybe the very detailed handmade creation. And maybe it’s also the desire to see tradition in a different way, and the urge to get back to our roots. The last explanation is what mostly counts for me.