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Behind the Eye-Popping Pop Art of Elo Soaps

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/13/2017 | 5 Minute Read

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Greek gods get a makeover with Elo Soaps, a line of olive oil body products that tourists and locals alike will love. Designed by Smirap Designs, it takes a refreshing approach to the gods that are commonly portrayed on souvenirs and gifts from Greece. We spoke with Mike Karolos at Smirap Designs to learn more about how he developed the illustrations for this line of products, how he achieves his signature pop art style, and working with clients who have limited budgets.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Smirap Designs: After I was given the initial brief and found out the theme of the packaging would be the Greek ancient gods, I started researching ancient statues of the different gods to have as references to work on. I started the project working on Zeus first. Once I completed the Zeus illustration I showed the client to make sure we are on the same page and he really liked what he saw. So I then started to work on the rest of the illustrations in the same manner and style and completed the packaging by having some simple typography on the right of the illustration on white that contained the logo and info needed.

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Elo Soaps packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Smirap Designs: The biggest goal was to be different, unique, and eye catching. Although the Greek god theme in tourist shops here in Greece is very common, by using my illustration signature style we managed to give a different take on an overused theme. The result was a modern, fresh, and at the same time kind of traditional packaging due to the theme we chose.

How did you approach giving a new look to Greek Gods, which are often portrayed in a more traditional manner?

Smirap Designs: As mentioned above the approach was simply my signature style in illustration. So what I did was use bold geometric and simple lines, a limited color pallet for each god combined with some patterns—little detail and an abstract feeling to them. Also each god is accompanied by a characteristic element like lightning for Zeus, the owl for Athena, etc. Those elements were also blended in with each god as it was a part of them and not something separate.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

Smirap Designs: Although I knew from the beginning that the client contacted me as he wanted my signature style which is quite geometric and pop art oriented, the challenge was that the size of the soaps were very small almost like a business card—so the illustrations had to look good in quite a small scale with not too much detail. Also, although we wanted the illustration to be the hero of the packaging and eye-catching, there still had to be room left for all the information.

Why did you choose to have the label tied onto the wrapped soap with yarn?

Smirap Designs: To be honest that was initially for cost reasons. The client had a specific budget and decided in this particular project to invest mostly in the design and make something different. So the problem was that the packaging itself had to be something simple but at the same time good looking. Since these soaps are for tourist gift shops the packaging was made like that, as to resemble a gift. So the label was simply a one sided print held a against the wrapped soap with a different color rope each time. The colored rope also added to the packaging and gave it a more handmade look and feel to it, as the soaps are also handmade.

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If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Smirap Designs: I guess what I like the most with this project is how different it turned out and how all 6 soaps look together as a whole. Also, we will probably be designing the rest of the gods sometime in the near future.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Smirap Designs: When sometimes there is a tight budget and you have to invest more in the design part (or even the other way around), there are always ways to make it look good within budget and with a little imagination. Of course within reason, and of course it is always better to invest in both packaging and design to have the best result possible and stand out from the crowd.

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