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Faces of the Mediterranean

I, recently, participated in the project MEDfaces Rostres de la mediterrània. Faces of the Mediterranean, a collective art project initiated by the Barcelona based “Stop Mare Mortum” platform.
It is an OPEN CALL to artists for creating a digital collection for each life lost in the Mediterranean since the year 2000. It is another way to denounce the deaths of thousands of people European frontiers and to reflect on the situation of refugees who are trying to reach Europe through the mediterranean sea.
The objective is to gather one artwork for each victim of the Mediterranean borders (38,000 !!! from the year 2000 to present). All projects will be used for public actions (exhibitions, publications, printing, video, etc.) to raise public awareness and change of European foreign and immigration policy.
So far, artists from 19 countries have sent around 360 works.
Each image explains a story, mixes optimism and hope, sadness, anger, despair or protest and has its own personality, is different and special. Every one of our sisters and brothers, drowned in the sea, has lost a life full of dreams, abilities, ideas and feelings. We are not talking about numbers and statistics, but of people who like everyone on earth, shall be free to leave any country, including his own. As long as so many states suffer under war, poverty or totalitarianism, people need a safe way of travelling towards a dignified life, a better future, equal rights and justice.
We want the Mediterranean to be a sea of encounter and exchange and not a mass grave of people feeling misery.

Send yours @theMEDfaces

I had a hope
Lost in the sea
Lost Soul

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

I was honoured to have been invited to participate in the poster project Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, organized and curated by Elizabeth Resnick, Professor Emerita, Graphic Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts USA.
The project has traveled to the world thanks to Elizabeth’s zeal and the amazing team of designers she selected for the project.
Below you can read more information about the project and the exhibitions that have been organized so far.

Breast Cancer Early Detection by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It’s Just Me
Maria Papaefstathiou aka It’s Just Me

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights is a very fitting title for an exhibition of Women’s rights and advocacy posters, as it is a term used in the women’s rights movement and was the title of an important speech given by Hillary Rodham Clinton at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. In her speech, Hillary Clinton suggests that “if the term ‘women’s rights’ were to be interchangeable with the term ‘human rights’ the world community would be a better place because human rights affect the women who raise the world’s children, care for the elderly, run companies, work in hospitals, fight for better education and better health care.”

Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage disparities. Women are often denied access to basic education and health care, and suffer from violence and discrimination, and are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

This exhibition features posters created by both men and women to celebrate and acknowledge the vital role that all citizens should play in protecting and promoting human rights while challenging gender inequality and stereotypes, advancing sexual and reproductive rights, and protecting women and girls against brutality. These posters promote women’s empowerment and participation in society while challenging religious and cultural norms and patriarchal attitudes that subordinate, stigmatize or restrict women from achieving their fullest potential. In their collective visual voice, these posters are designed to jolt the viewer’s sense of collective responsibility to challenge prevailing attitudes toward gender inequality and discrimination, while provoking both a healthy discomfort and empathetic response in the viewers.

Elizabeth Resnick


Women’s Rights Are Humans Rights: International Posters on Gender-based Inequality, Violence, and Discrimination is an exhibition that features posters created by both men and women to celebrate and acknowledge the vital role that all citizens play in protecting and promoting human rights while challenging gender inequality and stereotypes, advancing reproductive and sexual rights, protecting women and girls against brutality, and promoting women’s empowerment, education, and participation in society. The posters argue for the empowerment of women, achievement of equality between women and men, and the elimination of discrimination against women and girls.

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
Exhibition Schedule as of March 16, 2019

University Gallery, Taiwan National University, Taipei
May 14–May 22, 2016 (50 posters)

President’s Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston
September 26–October 29, 2016 (48 posters)

Outside on the Plaza, San Luis Potosi
September 26–October 7, 2016 (50 posters)

Design Toolkit Conference in Thessaloniki
October 8–12, 2016 (50 posters)

Namseoul University Gallery
November 21–December 2, 2016 (50 posters)

Art Center Gallery, Seoul
December 28–January 9, 2017 (50 posters)

Gallery 360, Northeastern University Boston
March 1–April 17, 2017 (45 posters)

Warsaw Poster Museum, Wilanow
April 28–October 30, 2017 (84 posters + 21 posters from their archive)

Archeworks Gallery, Chicago
September 14–October 8, 2017 (57 posters)

University Gallery, Illinois Wesleyan University
January 15–February 22, 2018 (50 posters)

Galicia Jewish Museum Krakow
March 13, 2018 (80 posters)

San Marino
Designing Civic Consciousness conference
Conference Center gallery, San Marino
May 28 –June 1, 2018 (95 posters projected)

University Gallery, William Paterson University New Jersey
September 10–December 12, 2018 (35 posters)

University Gallery, Ohio Northern University Ohio
October–December 2018 (95 posters)

University Gallery, York College of PA Pennsylvania
October 2018 (35 posters)

Art & Design Gallery, Chalmers Hall,  Kansas University
January  20–31, 2019

La Sala Cuarto Espacio de Zaragoza (The Fourth Space, Zaragoza)
March 8–April 30, 2019 (60 posters plus projection)
Center of Art and Exhibitions at Ejea de los Caballeros
May 17–June 30, 2019 (60 posters plus projection)

EAD2019 (European Academy of Design) conference
hosted by the University of Dundee

April 10–12, 2019 (100 posters projected)

Jury member to the “Escucha mi Voz” Poster Competition

I am very excited to have been invited by Escucha mi Voz to be a jury member at their 2019 Poster Competition.
Escucha mi Voz conducts education campaigns in favor of civility and human rights using design, art & other cultural manifestations.

Take the opportunity to inspire others …

If you design, register for the contest and participate. The theme of 2019 competition is Me, Metropolis. Please read the brief here: http://bit.ly/2HBI7oH

If you are not part of the designers’ community you can also get involved by hosting an exhibition, conference or workshop. Write to us to know more.

Check out their website for more information and to see the rest of the jury panel: https://www.escuchamivoz.org


In November, 2018, I was invited to participate in the GMO-Free=Green+You poster event. The exhibition took place in South Korea at the Korea Design Center, Hall (B1) Gallery.

Worldwide Graphic Designers. Exhibition and talk.

On Wednesday 25th of April 2018, I gave a Skype talk along with designer Martin Mendelsberg, [(USA) Affiliate Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver, C-IDEA, AIGA] for the Worldwide Graphic Designers exhibition at the Pacific Place in Jakarta.

The exhibition, in collaboration with AtAmerica, took place in Jakarta, Indonesia on the subject of Cultural Heritage. 69 posters, created by 106 graphic designers from 29 countries formed the exhibition. My designer partner on the poster was Andre Hutchinson from Jamaica. Below is our poster, a music-cultural exchange between Greece and Jamaica.

Autopsia Colectiva – Diseño (Graphic Autopsy)

I have been invited to participate in the AUTOPSIA COLECTIVA 4 on the theme of TRANSICIÓN. My poster entitled Awaken your consciousness.

Autopsia Colectiva is a non-profit organization based in Veracruz, Mexico. Supports and generates cultural and artistic actions in local, regional and global spheres and that focuses its interest on graphic design, poster design and applied arts.

The exhibition took place in Mexico, at the Galería AP.

The IRIE magazine July issue is out and we are in :)

IRIE’s July issue features Honest Music recent album Communion Riddim where the cover design is a collaboration between “It’s Just ME” and “Honest Music” and flashes its spotlight to International Reggae Poster Contest, It’s Just Me – Maria Papaefstathiou and Michael Thompson aka Freestylee – Artist Without Borders.
Give thanks and love to my brothers Chris Vrenios and Darryl Burke of Honest Music!

Check it out the magazine and listen to the album here: https://www.iriemag.com/irie-releases/ —

Few days after, IRIE’s WORLD REGGAE, July issue features once more the Intl. Reggae Poster Contest, its founders and this years’ winners.

Curate the 1st Medical Cannabis International Invitational Poster Exhibition

The IRPC and its co-founder Maria Papaefstathiou invited 50 designers from 27 countries to participate in the first Cannabis Poster Exhibition. 43 posters were submitted and were exhibited at the BALKANNABIS EXPO in Athens, Greece, on June 1-3, 2018. The EXPO is an international trade fair and conference on medical cannabis and hemp applications. More than 120 exhibitors and 30+ world-renowned speakers convened at the event.

The main goal of the Cannabis Poster Exhibition was to raise awareness of the healing properties of the cannabis plant and its many uses. The exhibition was a big success with 50 iconic and unique poster designs seen by hundreds of visitors who showed great interest in having the exhibition tour to other countries. The posters were available for sale and proceeds were donated to solidarity organizations working with unescorted refugee children in Greece.

Participating designers were:

Alexandros Papantoniou, Cyprus; Alon Braier, Israel; André Hutchinson, Jamaica; Andrew Cachia, Malta; Anthony Smith, Jamaica; Babak Safari, Iran
Byoungil Sun, South Korea; Chaz Maviyane-Davies, Zimbabwe; Christopher Scott, Ecuador; David Jiménez, Ecuador; Elmer Sosa, Mexico; Eric Boelts, USA; Erin Wright, USA; Frank Arbelo, Cuba; Gabriel Benderski, Uruguay; George Chandrinos, Greece; Irwan Harnoko, Indonesia; Jacek Tofil, Poland; Jos Vergauwe, Belgium; Manos Stamatinos, Greece; Mario Fuentes, Ecuador; Maria Papaefstathiou, Greece; Mary Anne Pennington, USA; Mi Jung Lee, South Korea; Onur Askin, Turkey; Pantelis Toutounopoulos, Greece; Rosario Nocera, Italy; Roy Villalobos, USA/Mexico; Saleh Zanganeh, Iran; Sashoy Brewry, Jamaica; Sonia Diaz and Gabriel Martinez, Spain; Vasilis Grivas, Greece; Xu Li, China; Zafer Lehilmer, Turkey.

Check out the posters here: http://www.reggaepostercontest.com/medical-cannabis-international-poster-exhibition/

Meeting Puma Ptah

On the 2nd of June, 2018, I had the pleasure to meet Puma Ptah of Thievery Corporation and present him his portrait design. A surprise that moved it. A humble man and an amazing reggae artist for whom I had the honour to design the album cover of One Accord.

Interview with Urban Heat Advisory


The use of art as a means to bring about awareness and activism to the many moral and social issues affecting us as a society is not uncommon when considering the performing arts (such as music and film). The artist is able to capture the attention of the audience and instill a passion to take a stand and become an activist for change. However, with art in the visual form (painting, graphic design, sculptured), there must be a strong connection between the artist and the viewer. A connection through visual understanding and recognition that forms and drives our consciousness. Images that draw us closer to the art and ultimately to the message being portrayed in the piece. For example, it could be the eyes of the subject in the artwork or the color scheme used that gives us a special connection to the art and ultimately a need to become more involved in bringing an issue to the forefront. The famous quote “Art Imitates Life” could not be more true right now more than ever, where our global society is in dire need of upliftment and a collective desire to bring about change.

The amazingly talented graphic design artist and activist Maria Papaefstathiou is a shining example of how some of today’s most acclaimed artist are using their artistic excellence to bring about awareness and activism to some of today’s most serious and challenging issues. Her work has been featured across the world – from exhibitions in Johannesburg, South Africa to South Korea to Mexico and Taiwan. Maria’s art can be described as boldly-radiant and detailed, but more importantly her works are thought-provoking, informative and educational.  She has joined countless crusades against injustice and inhumanity all over the world and raised awareness to some of the many social issues that plague those whom may not have a voice to be heard.

Maria is a native of Athens, Greece – which could only contribute to her vast knowledge and understanding of great art. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and a mecca of architectural history, archaeological study, and ancient art. At age 15, she began designing her own simple advertisements just for fun – which soon turned her attention to graphic design helping to fuel her passion for various forms of art. It was in 2011 when Maria designed her very first social design piece after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. From that moment forward, she has lent her artistic talents to produce artwork designed at raising awareness on many issues such as: poverty, rape, education, autism, lymphoma and breast cancer. Her artwork relies on her own formula for success – by creating strong and powerful images that bring attention to social issues. Images so powerful that they engage the viewer and make them actually read the message, which are often strong one-word messages that intrigue the viewer to research and grow interest about the issue being brought to light.

While browsing the internet looking for inspiring works, Maria stumbled upon a gallery of amazing posters on the Flickr account of Michael Thompson aka “Freestylee”. A native of Jamaica, Thompson was quite talented with graphic design and lived in the U.S. in Philadelphia. As an avid fan of reggae music, he began to grow concern and disappointment at how the culturally-rich and poignant music of his homeland was being exploited for huge profits in other countries such as England, France and America while the people of his country (where the true origins of reggae began) continued to live in poverty. This frustration sparked his vision to establish the International Reggae Poster Contest aimed at redefining the visual language of reggae and shining a creative spotlight on the music’s positive global impact. The poster contest is held annually across the globe raising money to help fund the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica – a non-profit vocational and educational school for at-risk boys and young men from Kingston’s impoverished inner-city communities. Michael Thompson’s poster became the new school logo.

Through a mutual love of graphic art design, reggae music and raising awareness, a strong and productive creative partnership was formed between Maria Papaefstathiou and Michael Thompson. The realization of Thompson’s vision began to come to fruition, with the two producing a large collection of powerful artwork honouring icons in the reggae industry as Thompson also wanted to create a reggae hall of fame to give thanks to the many artists that helped make reggae music a global music.  Unfortunately, Michael Thompson passed away suddenly in 2016, leaving behind a large collection of mourning family, friends, fans and supporters of his work. However, his vision and passion still remain strong with Maria continuing to drive his legacy and carry out the International Reggae Poster Contest. Just recently, the IRPC hosted its 20th Art of Reggae Exhibition at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica and a beautiful tribute to Michael Thompson titled “Freestylee Roots Art Exhibition” in Kingston, Jamaica.

We at Urban Heat Advisory are forever grateful to have had the opportunity to know Michael Thompson aka “Freestylee”. Thompson shared his own wisdom and guidance with UHA during our initial launch which helped us on our own concept and vision. His mentorship and support was strong and assured, as he was always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom with those around him. We cherish the time spent with him at both his “World A Reggae” Exhibitions held at the Jamaican Embassy and OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.  Urban Heat Advisory first met Michael Thompson in 2013 through mutual friend Tania Dwyer.  Dwyer, a longtime supporter of the International Reggae Poster Contest and The Alpha Boys School, refers to Maria Papaefsthiou as her best friend.

“Maria has such a kind-hearted humanitarian soul – always striving to enlighten and awaken the world to the issues affecting society through her incredible artwork. She is the driving force behind the IRPC after the sudden passing of our good friend Michael, and has taken it upon herself to represent and fulfil the vision of the International Reggae Poster Contest.” – Tania Dwyer


UHAWere you born in Athens, Greece? Have you always lived there? 

Maria: I was born in Germany to Greek parents and came to Greece to live at 4 years old. 

UHA:Does being from such a historic country with so many ancient landmarks inspire your passion to create works of art?

Maria: Being here and encountering the many different art influences from ancient times to the present have definitely inspired me. Even if I don’t consciously realize it, the images are engraved in my mind. 

UHA:When did you realize your passion and gift for art? What was your first significant piece? 

Maria: I’ve been drawing since early in my childhood, but what made me choose Graphic Design was my inclination around the age of 15 to design my own simple advertisements just for fun. Knowing myself and how easily I get bored with any kind of job, I was looking for a career in the future that could constantly inspire me. And I thought I would keep being enthusiastic about Graphic Design. The more I was getting into it though, the more passionate I became about all kinds of other art. One of my dreams is to one day have a big room full of works of art where I would spend all day. 

UHA:What directed you towards graphic design? Was there anyone specific issue that inspired you to concentrate on designing artwork that included a message towards social issues? 

Maria: My very first pieces of social design were done in 2011 after the big earthquake in Japan. Since then, I’ve designed posters on poverty, rape, lymphoma awareness, breast cancer awareness, autism and education. 

UHA:Your art is extremely powerful and captures the soul . On many of your pieces, the portraits are exceptionally detailed and so much is revealed in the eyes of the great people that you illustrate. Any specific reason for that?

Maria: Thank you for your wonderful words! I’m glad that you noticed the eyes in my portraits. Truth is, I spend more time on them the rest of the design because eyes reveal who we are. Many people tell me that I manage to capture their soul through my art. And it is said that the eyes are the window to our souls. 

UHA:Can you explain the process of being able to bring attention to the many social issues that affect us all by expression and communication of graphically designed illustrations? 

Maria: To bring attention to the social issues what you actually need is a strong image. Something that will capture the viewers attention and make them read your message. Then you need a strong message – even it’s just one word, anything you believe would intrigue the viewer to either search and read more about the issue you are speaking about or to motivate them to start thinking about it. 

UHA:The late pioneering graphic artist and activist Michael Thompson was, and will always be a tremendous source of inspiration and wisdom for us here at Urban Heat Advisory. We thought of him as a mentor and dear friend and were proud to have known him. How did you first meet Michael? 

Maria: I met Michael Thompson through my blog – graphicart-news.com. I was looking for inspiring works on the internet and stumbled upon Michael’s Flickr account and his amazing posters. One, two articles at the start. An interview later and a linkup on Facebook were the first steps to an amazing collaboration and friendship. 

Michael shared with me the idea to create the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) as a platform to kick-start a catalyst idea and a global campaign to create a museum to narrate the experience of global reggae. A museum that will celebrate the richness of the music’s history and attract reggae-lovers from all over the world. Michael’s vision was to see the erection of a Reggae Hall of Fame Museum and Performance Center on the beautiful Kingston Harbor in the capital of Jamaica. 

Thompson, who grew up in Jamaica in the sixties, was disappointed that countries such as America, France and England were making huge profits from the island’s music. And the people of his country (where reggae music started) continued to live in poverty. At the same time, new great talents were rising… and that was the spark of his dream! 

    The International Reggae Poster Contest was established to help redefine the visual language of reggae and to shine a creative spotlight on the music’s positive global impact. The term “Reggae” to us represents all the popular Jamaican musical genres: Ska, Rocksteady, Roots Reggae, Dub, Dancehall and the unique Jamaican Sound System. As the world-famous reggae bandThird World rightly sings – “How can a BIG music come from a little island?”

   It is our recognition of what reggae has achieved globally that led us to launch the International Reggae Poster Contest. Reggae is no longer Jamaican music, but now belonging to the whole world. It’s music that brings people together. The theme of the contest – “Toward a Reggae Hall of Fame: Celebrating Great Jamaican Music” is the mantra that drives our work and the embedded message in the contest and exhibition. 

Another grand vision of the contest is to celebrate the amazing Jamaican institution, Alpha Boys’ School, which nurtured this music. Alpha Institute is a non-profit vocational and general educational school for at-risk boys and young men from Kingston’s impoverished inner-city communities. Since 1884, the Religous Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic order of nuns, have been running the school as part of their mission to serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated. The primary objective of Alpha is the empowerment and transformation of young men through education and skills training, particularly those who have little or no opportunity for education. 

  Since the early 1890’s, the Alpha music program has been the most prolific with graduates becoming respected internationally for their accomplishments in jazz, ska, reggae and pop music. From Blue Note jazz musicians like Dizzy Reece to ska music pioneers the Skatalites and reggae icons such as Johnny Osbourne and Winston Foster aka “Yellowman” (a 1997 Grammy nominee), Alpha’s past ‘boys’ are synonymous worldwide with the development of Jamaican pop music. Alpha is a “dream factory”, according to National Public Radio (NPR), for “legendary musicians” (Jamaica Gleaner) who “helped release the spirit of one of the most musical islands in the world” (The Telegraph / UK).

On my first trip to Jamaica, I had the pleasure of getting to know the teachers, the students and the buildings of the Alpha Boys School, where music is high on the curriculum. One of Michael Thompson’s posters became the new school logo. The poster was silk printed by the well-known printer “Tind” in Greece. This poster was the inspiration for talking to students and teachers about this method of printing. They immediately loved the technique and soon included it in the program when they began printing their first t-shirts with the new school logo to be sold online. 

UHA: Outside of art, what are your interests? 

Maria:  My first interest outside the world of art is the art of raising children. I mean my children. And then the art of giving. I believe this world can change if we all give to each other. And I’m not referring to money – but to love, help, anything each of us can share. Not everybody has money, but we all have a heart. Ad this art of giving is what made me accept Michael’s invitation to start the IRPC. From the very beginning, he said, “there is no money in it.”

UHA: What are your future goals? 

Maria:  Well, I wouldn’t say that I am a person with future goals. My only goal is to keep learning and to keep trying. I wish to have the strength to continue the International Reggae Poster Contest and to showcase the work of Michael Thompson. I have started a series of portraits on Greek cultural personalities. I want this to grow. Parallel to that, I want to continue working on Jamaican cultural themes. 

UHA: With the current ever-changing issues that we are currently plagued with, what role can the arts community play in shaping the future? 

Maria:   Designers around the world are using posters as a global platform to carry messages on several issues that are globally troubling. Successful posters, whether cultural or social, can communicate their messages to anyone in any country in almost any language. The poster itself and the art community will not change the world. But we have the most beautiful weapon to provoke discussion and challenge individuals to answer the call to action.

Interview with Urban Heat Advisory

Poster for Crete

The poster for Crete was designed for the project “100 posters for Crete” that took place in August, 2017, on the island of Crete in Greece.
100 graphic designers, among them myself as well, who live and work in Greece, Cyprus and many other cities abroad, were invited to design disinterestedly one poster each about Crete, without any subject or technique restrictions. The Project raised 6.000€ to support the work of ELEPAP Chania and Orizontas.

Speaking at the Ostróda Reggae Festival in Poland

The 19th International Reggae Poster Contest Exhibition, “The Art of Reggae,” opened on August 11, 2017 in Ostróda, Poland. Hosted by the Ostróda Reggae Festival, the exhibition showcased 40 winning posters from the 5th International Reggae Poster Contest 2016. I had the pleasure to speak about Intl. Reggae Poster Contest and to showcase my work at the Ostróda Reggae Festival University.

The exhibition was one of the highlights of the Ostroda Reggae University. To introduce the exhibition, Maria Papaefstathiou, co-founder of the contest with Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, gave an engaging talk on the impact of reggae and Jamaican culture internationally. She focused on a variety of design forms such as book covers, logotypes and, of course, posters. Her lively talk was moderated in fine style by Dr. Bartosz Wójcik, author, literary critic, translator and cultural manager.

Sing me a Poster. Exhibited in Cyprus

This poster is a collaboration between GREECE and IRAN. A collaboration between Maria Papaefstathiou (GREECE) and Mohammad Ardalani (IRAN). Designed for the project by Worldwide Graphic Designers

Song: How should I know?
Singer: Homayoun Shajarian
Composer: Sohrab Pournazeri
Poet: Rumi

Translation of this song poet:
How could I know that this longing would drive me so crazy;
That it would make my heart a prison, and my eyes a river?
How know tears like a flash flood would carry me away,
And hurl me like a boat into a vast sea of blood?
That waves would beat and split this boat board by board,
Until each board twists away from all the many tortures?
That the sea-monster would raise its head- and swallow the sea;
That such an immense sea would go dry like a desert plain?
That the devouring sea-monster would then split this plain,
And suddenly pull me down into a pit, like Qarun, in wrath?
When these transformations occurred, naught remained;
What do I know, when why and what swallow each other?
O how many the “I don’t knows” there are- but I don’t know;
For I have swallowed the foam of opium, to forget that sea!

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcdEVf8HXc