Interviews

Costas Voyatzis on Yatzer & Life

Costas Voyatzis, or else the man behind the very successful Yatzer – a global online destination that allows readers to discover the most globe engaging, creative projects, as well as the people making their mark in design, art, fashion and travel – is what I like to call my “Blog Idol”. I have always been a great fan of his work and super refined aesthetics. After all, and especially in Greece, no-one else has managed to create and design such an internationally acclaimed and awarded online platform.

It was a few years ago when my mother, in an effort to show her support for my new ideas about blogging (theFMartini was still an unrealized project), arranged a meeting for me with Costas at her place. I remember walking in to find him sitting on the living room sofa, having this  super positive energy about him! He was modest and such a pleasure to speak to, and he immediately made me feel at ease. Even though I had no concrete work to show him, he carefully listened to my ideas about my imminent blog plans, gave me his precious advice and encouraged me to just go ahead with it! He emphasised that I should always question “the reason why” behind anything I was about to do, words that are still resonating in my ears.

Two years later, having taken his advice to heart and with theFMartini up and running, I was feeling grateful to meet up  with Costas once again – this time at his house – and interview him on all matters related to online platforms, social media and life itself.

 

 

Q & A

What triggered you to create Yatzer?

Having succeeded at the Athens University of Physics (faculty of Meteorology), and even though my grades were really high, I soon realized that I simply wasn’t drawn to this subject… So, I decided to switch direction and started working for a number of local magazines (which I loved), whilst also studying interior design. I knew I was in the right field fairly early on, when my Professor of Synthesis “blindly” hand-picked three out of a total of two hundred “collage works” that the class had submitted during the first week of my studies, and ALL THREE of them were mine!
 
The idea of Yatzer materialised in late 2006; enlisting in the army, which is obligatory in Greece,  I was terrified at the very thought of losing contact with the field of design! The name itself derived from my family name Voyatzis – {Vo-yatzer} – Yatzer! It seems incredible now that I really had no idea back then, as to how much “voyaging” this would actually entail! I had always read and compared various blogs and websites about design and wanted to make my own library/inspiration board of favorites – something like Pinterest, which didn’t exist back then! But instead of keeping it on a file on my desktop, I decided to share it with others. After all, my motto – inspired by a lyric from the song La Retournelle, by Sebastian Teller – is: “Design is to share”.

 

What element of your character do you think contributed most to Yatzer’s success?

My instinct, my passion and my faith. If you really think about it, the mind seems to like pairing things: “black & white”, “yes & no”, “good & bad”… Personally, I always tend to be on the positive side of things; I deal with anything negative with extra positivity. I have a lot of love in me, but no hate; lots of enthusiasm, but no rage. I guess you could say, when it comes to negativity, I’m sort of “insensitive”!

 

You’ve said that Yatzer is your dream job, but that it also feels like a constant start up. Do you still feel the same after all these years?

It still feels like a start up, even after 10 years of being up and running! Technology is constantly changing, which is also the case with my perspective – the way I look at things – just like Yatzer does. That’s why the design and interface of the site have both changed four times since 2007! And I’m pretty sure they will change again in the next few years.

 

 

What is the biggest lesson & reward Yatzer has given you so far?

It is through Yatzer that I have come into contact with so many amazing people, brands and companies that I would have never dreamt of, such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. I collaborate directly with them, not with distributors or press offices. What Yatzer has taught me is this: Go out, travel, believe in yourself, you can do anything, you can meet anyone!

Let me give you an example… Last year, I was at a Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition opening in Singapore. During the press conference, I realized that the guest of honor was none other than Cate Blanchett! I remember being jet lagged and thinking “Can this be truly happening?” We were divided into groups to have a look around the exhibition and when it was my turn, she was nowhere to be seen; so, I just assumed that she had left and I was so disappointed… Later on, there was a lunch, in a venue comprised of three, huge, monastery tables, each one seating 120 people. Our name tags were set on the table and, to my surprise, I was sitting directly opposite her! She was truly exceptional and we ended up having a very long, unforgettable conversation for the rest of the evening!

 

What’s the secret of your success when it comes to setting and achieving goals?

In life, people want to do things, but they don’t always take the necessary initiatives with which to achieve their goals. It’s like wanting to win the lottery without actually going out and buying a lottery ticket! All my goals are like destinations, they have a name, description and direction, something like a mental GPS that charters the journey. Although there are a number of ways to get there, it’s your mental GPS that will take you exactly where you want to go – that is, if you set your destination accurately, from the beginning. Regardless of the fact that you might change course many times, that you will most probably come across various people (who will inspire and guide you), your goals should always be clear…

 

 

You have recently become Creative Director of “Influencers”, the first limited-edition Greek coffee-table magazine. What do you think about the future of printed media and online platforms?

People will never stop reading books and magazines. Nowadays, offline doesn’t exist without online and vice versa. That’s why most magazines also have an internet reference or social media account. Readers have become too internet and social media savvy. Back when I started, there were several blogs and online platforms, but today there are literally millions! So, in order to stay in the game and have a competitive advantage, you have to vigorously filter information, be extra selective and keep high standards in anything and everything you do.

 

Who is your favorite Greek Artist?

Maria Ikonomopoulou (www.mariaikonomopoulou.com), who is a friend and talented artist currently living in Rotterdam; you can actually see her work on the wall behind me! She created an artwork series, called “Growing Care”, some years ago. The “Joy” collage on my wall is part of this. We actually made it together, out of 2,500 paper-cut flowers and it took us two weeks to finish! It is a work of art that grows into new forms and meanings, as it can’t remain the same. It changes every time I move to another house; in my previous house, the word was “Love”.

 

What can you tell us about your future plans and projects?

This year my priority is “Yatzer City Experiences”. By the end of March, this section will be added to Yatzer, with illustrated city guides, multiple tips and information on places to stay, eat, drink and things to do. A new city will be featured every two months, the first of course being Athens!

I’m also working on other projects, but I can’t reveal them yet ….!

 

Photo Credit: Anna Tagkalou

 

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