23.08.16 by Staff

Experimental Artist Petros Vrellis Creates Detailed Portraits With A Single Thread


Born in Greece, with a background in Electrical Engineering as well as Art Science, artist Petros Vrellis has a passion for creating interactive installations that blend art and technology. His latest project is a mesmerizing re-imagining of traditional handicraft.

Using a 28″ aluminum-rimmed loom, Petros runs a single thread from one anchor peg to another to create just the right density and darkening at precise intersections. The end result is a detailed image that emerges from 3000 – 4000 continuous loops (or 1-2 kilometers of thread)!

While Petros is following a set pattern developed from a computer-generated algorithm, as you can see in the time-lapsed video above, the step-by-step process is all done by hand. We had the chance to speak with Petros about his experimental process and why hand-made work still has a place in the digital age. Check out the full interview below!


An Interview with Petros Vrellis


Booooooom: Is this really knitting? Why did you choose “knitting” for this particular project?

Petros Vrellis: Yes, this is real! But maybe I should have used the term “string-art”, which is more appropriate (sorry, but english is not my native language). Everything started about 10 months ago, when I was experimenting with an algorithm that produces photorealistic collages. I realized that the simplest collage part is a plain straight line. Then I tried to figure out, what can be achieved by using only straight lines. I tried various setup for the pegs and ended with the circular setup that can be build in real life with a circular loom.




Booooooom: You have Master’s degrees in both Engineering and Art Science. Can you talk a bit about how you see art and its relationship to technology? Why is blending them together meaningful to you?

Petros Vrellis: As humankind, for hundreds of thousands of years we make art using the materials that are available to us: rocks, wood, colors, etc. Furthermore, many artworks were built from “exotic” materials. Using modern technology is the next natural step. It is obvious that new media offer new ways of expression.

Booooooom: The patterns you follow were created using openFrameworks and couldn’t actually be calculated without a computer. Why work by hand at all? Why not have the whole thing be computer generated?

Petros Vrellis: I really liked the idea of having a real object that you can feel and touch. Furthermore, a computer screen is not enough to provide all the details, and it’s possible that someone will think that the computer image is just a trick, and that the specific design is impossible! (I’ve heard this as a comment, too many times so far!)

Booooooom: Are there any projects or ideas that you’d like to pursue but the technology isn’t there yet?

Petros Vrellis: I am fascinated by the potential of artificial intelligence. I am sure that in the next few years we will be shocked from the rise of “machine-creativity” level. I’d really love to work on it, but my knowledge is very limited, and so is the computer horsepower available for this stuff, at least for now.




Booooooom: You consider yourself a “toy-inventor” more than an artist. Why is playfulness so important to you and the work that you do?

Petros Vrellis: Playfulness and laugher is the easiest way to change the world! The power of (good) comedy is unsurpassed. Playing and laughing help us overcome rules and habits that keep us behind. For my work, playfulness is connected with creativity; you cannot build anything new, unless you forget the art rules of the past.

Booooooom: Your stuff involves a lot of experimentation. Have there been projects or things you’ve tried that didn’t work out? How do you stay motivated when things aren’t working?

Petros Vrellis: Most of my projects don’t work out! But joy does not come out of success, joy comes out of exploration. Like Greek poet Konstantinos Cavafy wrote in his poem “Ithaca” (Ithaca was Odysseus destination): “When you depart for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long, full of adventure, full of knowledge”.


Petros’ Interactive Animation of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”


Booooooom: What inspires you?

Petros Vrellis: Inspiration works in mysterious ways. It comes completely unexpected while working on even the most irrelevant projects. I just try to absorb any useful info I can get (from books to visual arts), and hope that someday my brain will generate a nice idea, that combines the accumulated knowledge.



Petros Vrellis’ Website

Petros Vrellis on Saatchi Art

If you have work to share, please send us a tweet or post it to our monthly submission posts.

  • Haveaniceday

    Following computer instructions is not experimental but it looks good; can you make something with just free hand?

23.09.16 by Staff

35mm Camera Made Entirely with 3D Printing


SLO is a 35mm camera created by 3D designer Amos Dudley, every part of which is 3D printed, including the lenses (although those took about 5 – 6 hours to be sanded down by hand). Designed with a modular lens and shutter system, the lenses can be swapped in/out and longer exposure photos achieved using the shutter buttons along the top. More images of SLO below! You can also check out Dudley’s blog here, where he documented the entire project.

Read More

23.09.16 by Jeff

Artist Spotlight: Judy Kepes


Drawings by artist Judy Kepes. More images below.

Read More

23.09.16 by Jeff

Photographer Spotlight: Nils Ericson


Photos from “Iowa” by Brooklyn-based photographer Nils Ericson. Fantastic work. More images below.

Read More

22.09.16 by Staff

Botanical Sculptures Made From Recycled Paper by Artist Kate Kato


A selection of intricate sculptures by artist Kate Kato. Inspired by botanical illustrations and a love of nature, her pieces are constructed out of recycled materials and natural dyes. See out more images below or at Confluence Gallery (in Washington) October 15 – November 19.

Read More

22.09.16 by Staff

Watch: “Chilly Gonzales & Peaches” by Patrick Doyon


Excited to officially release the first video in our 6-part series of animated shorts for Red Bull Music Academy. Highlighting stories of unique musical collaboration, this inaugural episode features Chilly Gonzales and Peaches reminiscing about the first time they met.

Visuals by Academy Award-nominated animator Patrick Doyon and sound and music by Luigi Allemano. Check out the full video over at Booooooom TV!