Costa Vavagiakis is an artist who lives in Brooklyn and teaches at the Art Students League in New York City, as well as at workshops nationally and internationally. His initiation into art came when he was a boy of seven, visiting his uncle in Athens. Together they went to a museum in Delphi where Costa was transfixed by a classical bronze statue called the Charioteer of Delphi. From that moment, he says, everything he has done in his life with his art and vision has been to recreate the awe of that moment.
Costa says that he prefers to teach technique in order to help people develop their vision because, “when students learn how to use their tools, they can spread their wings.” To succeed as an artist, he says, it is necessary to have a strong will, but one balanced by openness and compassion. “Everything should serve the artist spiritually and artistically. Plus, it should be fun,” he adds.
When he talks about light, the direction of light is the most important thing, with the amount of fill being secondary. By example, he talks about the openness of the Botticelli’s Venus in the Half Shell compared to the drama of Caravaggio’s work.
Costa likes to create a sculptural feel in his art, harkening back to the childhood experience of seeing the bronze sculptures for the first time. To do this, he puts the light source above the subject. The top lighting enhances all of planes, lumps and bumps of the body while the high key background helps create a tension at the edges of the subject, giving the painting a 3-D quality, almost like that sculpture. See Costa's work here.