Guide to Athens by our Artist Collaborator, Anna of Lila Ruby King
By Leigh Rawdon
Whenever we travel, we always aim to work with local artists for a number of key prints for Tea’s seasonal collections. This season, we were lucky to work with Athens-based illustrator Anna of Lila Ruby King to develop two Mediterranean-inspired designs for our Spring line (the King Sardine and the Barbary Lion).
While we were in Greece for our photoshoot, Anna was kind enough to spend her Friday afternoon walking through Athens with us, as she answered our endless questions and gave us a memorable tour of the local area. After sharing a lot of laughs, she parted ways with us to meet her mom who was visiting all the way from Australia.
In fact, our local tour guide was originally from Australia herself! She moved to Athens over a decade ago for love (she’s now married to the Greek man who got her attention all the way from down under), and in the process, she has fallen in love with Greece as well. Anna’s love runs so deep that her drawings for Lila Ruby King are entirely meant to celebrate the country that stole her heart. Her art feels like a multi-faceted love letter to the country she now calls home.
[Two prints by Lila Ruby King featuring her favorite Greek cheese and foods]
Much of Anna’s work features Greek food. Even if she keeps her creative focus on cheese alone, she’ll likely never run out of material—unique cheese choices are neverending in Greece!
Anna also loves sardines, and it so happens that we do as well. So much so that we featured her sardines in our Spring collection (with more coming for Summer!).
[In-process sketches of Lila Ruby King’s sardine print and a set of charming puffin mobiles.]
Where to eat?
After wandering through Plaka, we stopped for a bite and a drink to cool off at TAF (The Art Foundation). It’s housed in an ancient building with nooks and crannies that are all worth exploring. Enjoy a Freddo Cappuccino or a cocktail in the inner courtyard. Afterward, we walked through Plaka to have some gelato at La Greche near Syntagma Square.
Where to shop?
[A poster for the Museum of Greek Folk Art. Anna standing in front of Heroes with the signage that she painted.]
TAF is not just for tasty beverages, but has great shops too! After you grab a beverage, wander into the gallery upstairs or the tiny shops that feature all Greek designers. We also visited the charming Museum of Greek Folk Art, which highlights traditional Greek art and crafts.
Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies is where Anna says you should go for more indie options, such as modern Greek pins to mark your backpack or charming prints for the home. Anna’s unique and much-loved thank-you card is sold here as well. She designed it for her cat’s pet sitter and had no idea that it would become so popular.
[Anna’s pet-sitting thank-you card and her mural at Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies]
In fact, what motivated Anna to express her love for Greece in drawing was her need for greeting cards to send to friends back in Australia. Apparently, she had a hard time finding any cards in Greece so she just started making them herself. Then she sold them on Etsy, later to shops, and the rest is history.
What to see?
Check out the street art! Anna recommends seeking out the talented Dreyk the Pirate. She always admired his work and encouraged him to start selling his pieces. They have a close friendship now, so much so that he came by to support her while she was painting her mural at Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies.
Where else to visit in Greece?
Well, I wish I could have pried it out of her. Anna’s relationship with Greece is private. She told us about a place up north where there are idyllic places to stay near a lake. But that’s all she would tell us. Why? Because she doesn’t want it to get crowded.
That said, she really wants people to visit Greece and to support local shops. When we asked her what she wanted people traveling to Greece to know, she said, “I want people to know how important it is to shop locally. If someone has to stay in an all-inclusive resort or on a ship, then please make a point to wander into town to buy something in a shop, even if it’s just a coffee or a snack. That one act can be what helps the shop owner break even that day.”