Welcome to Plexida Portraits, a series that explores the lives and creativity of inspiring individuals. In each installment, we step into the worlds of remarkable women, exploring their unique journeys, inspirations, and the threads that bind them to our brand.

In our inaugural edition, we are thrilled to introduce you to Ioanna Florou—visionary artist, cherished friend, and a Plexida muse who has gracefully adorned our knitwear with both style and sentiment. A master of the palette, Ioanna resides in a neoclassical haven, a place where her home intertwines with her art studio, creating a seamless blend of artistry and daily life. Join us in this intimate conversation as we explore Ioanna's boundless creativity and the profound connections between art and identity.

Ioanna, could you share a bit about your background and what initially sparked your interest in the world of art?

I was born in Kozani, a city in north-western Greece. I spent my early childhood in my village near the woods and the mountains. During those early years, I was naturally introduced to local folk creative techniques such as knitting, embroidery, and drawing on red Easter eggs with a unique local technique. 

Growing up, I kept on drawing, and after I got my degree in Environmental Engineering, I decided to do what I love most. So, I studied at the School of Visual and Applied Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki. Nowadays, my artistic research focuses on contemporary drawing.

What artistic influences have shaped your creative journey, and how do they manifest in your work today?

There are a lot of great artists that have influenced my work. Some of them are Francisco Goya, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Hans Bellmer, William Kentridge, and Julie Mehretu. The optical games of thickening and dissolving forms, the shadow and lighting effects, the interplay between simplicity and complexity, and the idiosyncratic dark palette in my work are inspired by them.


Walk us through your artistic process. How do you approach a new piece, and how has your process evolved over time?

I usually begin with no source material and no preconceived notion of the final composition. I am guided by a series of intuitive decisions that enable the internal logic of each work to gradually unfold. I define and rediscover the forms of the artwork through the drawing process. Each act, tender and nervous at the same time, is moving the image closer to the final composition.

In moments of creative blocks or self-doubt, how do you navigate and rediscover inspiration?

In moments of creative blocks, I always return to nature. This is not only a way out of the studio, but it makes me feel grounded. It makes me realize and evaluate my existence in full scale. I feel exactly as small as I am next to a mountain and, at the same time, as big as I am compared to an ant. I suppose that observing and sensing/experiencing nature keeps me modest. The natural world challenges me to constantly redefine my creative motives.

You recently founded The Esque Studio, can you tell us more about it?

The Esque Studio is an ongoing project. It is my personal studio that, over time, evolved into a shared space for drawing sessions and events. The impulse to be extrovert and share my space and time with creative people led to the creation of this drawing lab. Its purpose is to bring artists together and create a community that shares ideas. The Esque gives us the opportunity to practice regardless of drawing levels and skills. Currently, there are drawing lessons for adults as well as special events with life models, live music, and guest fellow artists who share their developed techniques. Academic tutoring is avoided, and each person’s distinctive drawing style is encouraged.

How does the dynamic of teaching art influence your own creative process and perspective on art?

Teaching is something that initially came up as a job necessity. After four years of teaching painting to children and one year to adults, I am fascinated by the charm of it. The freedom of children in painting and the feelings of accomplishment of adults who never thought they could draw are priceless. I become an apprentice next to them. The main influence is that my own drawing process becomes bold and more experimental. 

Can you provide a glimpse into your daily life, particularly your home and art studio in your stunning building from the 1930s? How do these spaces influence your creativity?

On busy days, I wake up around 8 a.m. After breakfast, I walk my dog, Missa. Around 10 a.m., I get into the studio. I spend four or five hours a day there. At lunchtime, I just move to the second floor of the building. I love to have my meals in the bright kitchen with the large windows and then take a rest in the living room before I head to my evening job. I love taking closer looks at the building’s details and the art nouveau architecture.

Sometimes I try to imagine the life in this building during the 1930s and the 1940s. The building is also located near the rail lines, where deportations of persecuted Salonican Jews began. There is a direct historic influence that affects my work’s subject matter. 

What makes a good day for you?

A productive day in the studio is what makes a great day for me. I love beginning with some reading or small drawings that are usually scribbles and drafts. My coffee break is around 11 a.m. After that, I work on some large-scale drawing. During the least busy days of the week, I enjoy spending all day in the studio and being absorbed by finding new possibilities for experimentation. 


Can you describe the experience of wearing Plexida knits and how they align with your personal style and artistic expression?

Plexida reminds me of the warmth of my childhood while wearing my mother’s and grandmother’s handcrafted knitwear. At that time, sweaters and beanies were influenced by the 80’s and 90’s fashion trends with vibrant colors and eye-popping patterns. Wearing Plexida today is like paying homage to the family's handcrafted clothing and previous generations. Plexida is a twist on the “fast fashion” phenomenon. We need to respect the environment while supporting quality and sustainable fashion.


Which 3 words come to mind when you think about Plexida?

I think of intimacy, comfort, and elegance.

What book, movie, and piece of art has left a lasting impact on you, and why?

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a book that helped me realize that creativity and inspiration come from hard work and self-discipline. The film Mother by Darren Aronofsky was mind-blowing. It approaches subjects such as creation, birth, and death remarkably. I also love Ingmar Bergman and his epic films. Particularly, I believe The Seventh Seal is one of the most influential films and a great existential allegory. When it comes to pieces of art, there are plenty of them that inspire me constantly. I must include one of my latest experiences during my visit to the Venice Biennale in 2022. Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in Palazzo Ducale and his monumental work, produced especially for the venue, were beyond astonishing.


If you were to share one piece of advice with aspiring artists or individuals exploring their creative side, what would it be?

Embrace the days of uncertainty and keep on working, freed from huge expectations. That’s where the magic begins!  

See more of Ioanna's work here: 




Photography: Alexandra Kouziaki, © 2024 Plexida Knitwear.