The Brilliance of Peri the Greek
Periandros Damoulis, proprietor of Damoulis Signs and iCarvings.com, began his career in 1979 as a 15-year-old apprentice to Argiris Hasilidis, the local signmaker in his hometown of Lecheo Corinthias, Greece. In Hasilidis’ shop, he learned about brushes, paints and the intricacies of handpainted signage.
Until roughly the end of the 20th Century, window and vehicle graphics comprised most of his work.
However, he thought the sign market in his home country would evolve and create greater demand for 3-D, carved signage. In the ’80’s, he also reportedly became one of the first Greek signmakers to purchase a computer to facilitate sign design.
Periandros learned to ply his trade with HDU signage shaped on a CNC router. U.S.-made HDU is prohibitively expensive because of tariffs and duties leveled in Greece against goods shipped from outside the European Union, so he opts for Duna’s 15-lb. HDU, which is manufactured in Italy. His equipment has changed little since we first interviewed Periandros; he still operates a Gerber Sabre 408 and enVision 375 CNC routers, a Mimaki CG130-EX cutting plotter to create his masks, and a Summa DC3 thermal-transfer printer.
However, almost everything else about his shop’s operation has changed. In 2006, he moved his business to Nafplio, a seaside resort city approximately 50 miles from his hometown. As the country suffered the consequences of decades of unsustainable government spending, the country shifted into austerity mode, and work for vendors of such discretionary items as new signs withered. He had to let most of his staff go, and its operations contracted to a smaller, family-run business.
Focusing on the positive, Periandros said, “We produce fewer jobs now than we did a few years ago, but, with less work, there’s now a greater focus on quality. And, through our reputation, we’ve been able to gain several new clients and slowly build our business back.”
Periandros still begins all of his work with hand renderings, then digitizes them with Gerber Omega and the Adobe Creative Suite. To develop a dimensional template, he transfers his new file into Vectric’s (a British software manufacturer) Aspire 3-D-design program.
Despite Greece’s harsh summer climate, he still decorates his signs with water-based paints. Because ICI and Muralo’s coatings provide a wide array of colors with pop, Periandros prefers them. To protect them from UV exposure and the Argolic Gulf’s salty air, he applies heavy-duty, clear varnish. When gilding, he prefers 23.75k, Italian leaf. To enhance its sheen, he uses LeFranc Charbonnel slow size.
The challenging Greek economy has compelled Periandros to diversify. Thus, he launched the website www.icarvings.com, where he offers 3-D, wooden carvings that depict religious icons and religiously themed works of art. Through his website, a Facebook page and a virtual storefront developed through www.etsy.com, an e-commerce site, he markets these artifacts throughout Europe and North America.
“Current economic conditions, both in our country and abroad, require tremendous sales efforts,” Periandros said. “There are many factors beyond our control; all we can do is be responsible with how we spend our money, work hard and continue to focus on how to market our products. And hope that conditions improve not just in Greece, but worldwide.