Though he has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in architecture, and spends four days a week working in an architecture studio, Nick Stathopoulos thinks of himself more as an illustrator and designer. “I have a strong passion for architecture and my work is usually based on some sort of architectural inspiration,” he tells us. “But practicing architecture is quite different to concept art or illustration; there isn’t the complete creative freedom that you are taught in university. There are a lot of legalities and codes that you are restricted to.”
He says that seeing his architecture work come alive is ultimately rewarding, especially when a long-term project is eventually inhabited and used by people. But he finds a different sort of joy in drawing. “I use my work in illustration to create worlds with no limits, it is a creative relief of mine in response to the real world,” he says.
His background as an architect is very evident in his work, where buildings dominate the frames and human characters are overshadowed by imposing structures. The worlds he creates are also very evidently inspired by space travel, the future and science fiction. “At a younger age I fell in love with films such as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner and was drawn to their other worldly qualities,” he says. “I love a good sense of mystery and try to convey that in my work. I believe as human beings we are curious and always have the urge to explore. Science fiction is a great reflection of this and what I believe to be one of the most powerful ways to open up our minds and encourage us to keep on exploring the unknown.”
Film itself has also influenced his illustration style. He studies the cinematography of iconic films, to understand lighting, space and compositions, and aims to apply these to his work.
One of his recent bodies of work, titled Monuments of the Past, tells the story of a future world where climate change has destroyed all the forests and mountains. People of the future have recreated these natural treasures and show their children what the earth used to be. The work is stunning and haunting; evidently layered with meaning but also just beautiful to look at.
Apart from selling prints of self-initiated projects, Stathopoulos works as a concept artist for the screen, most recently designing a futuristic hangar space for a TV commercial. He’s also worked on a soon-to-be-released sci-fi television series, designing the environments and architecture in which the scenes will play out. While he’s open to commissions and has a regular flow of commercial work, Stathopoulos says he hopes to keep making the time for self-initiated projects, creating mysterious, futuristic worlds of his own.