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"Greek taverna evening"

newspaper feature
article illustration

ink drawing

© David John 1985
Greek taverna evening illustration by David John  

About the lifestyle illustrations

I have provided innumerable illustrations for newspaper columns and feature, lifestyle, arts, culture and sports articles. The writing has ranged from serious, through frivolous to downright ridiculous. While columns appear regularly (daily or weekly), feature articles usually have a longer shelf life than a news story. An editor can sit on an article until he/she has space, or there's a quiet news day or the subject matter fits a current topic.

This often gives an illustrator a little more time to think up and execute an image. A travel article, for example, may require finding reference information about or images of South East Asian temple architecture. Before the internet, this meant rummaging through books, magazines and travel brochures. Illustrators also have to acquire a considerable visual vocabulary - a mental archive of forms and appearances.

A curious trademark of many of my drawings are the incidental animal observers. The situations I create are often witnessed by fascinated or bemused cats, dogs, goats, birds, snails or fish. How did they get there? What does it all mean? How should I know?

"Greek taverna evening"

newspaper article illustration, ink drawing

This assignment allowed me a touch of self-indulgence. Having spent thousands of happy hours in Greek tavernas and observing the goings-on, now I finally had the chance to put some of my observations down in ink.

In Greece (as in many Mediterranean countries) the local restaurant is a marvellous social institution where families and friends meet at the slightest excuse to spend hours eating, drinking, talking and even singing and dancing. The establishments themselves range from the slick professional joints where the prices make the eyes water as much as the mouth, to the humble family-run tavernas. These latter are my favourite, mum or grandma rules the roost in the kitchen while the oldest son plays a Hellenic version of the maitre d' out front, and any number of siblings and cousins may be employed to wash dishes, prepare salads or rush around with plates. Only ignorant foreign tourists break the plates on purpose.

Menus, where they exist at all, may bare little resemblance to what may be on offer that day; and translations into foreign languages can be baffling or hilarious. (One place in Thessalonika appeared to be offering "stuffed sheath's vaginas". Yum yum. We didn't ask.) Luckily the proprietors will happily show you the kitchen where you can point out what takes your fancy.

At their busiest times, some of these eateries seem like organized chaos in action. A wonder to behold and good wholesome fun. Kali orexi!
  taverna evening
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