Klitos Teklos is the VP, Head of Global Creative for Designer Fragrances and Lab Series at ESTEE LAUDER COMPANIES. Responsible for all global creative, strategic, conceptual and execution work across Visual Communications, Packaging, Creative Operations, Store Design and Visual Merchandising. Brands: Michael Kors, Zegna, Tommy Hilfiger, Kiton, Donna Karan, Tory Burch, DKNY, Lab Series and Aramis.
Prior to ELC, Teklos was Partner, Global Creative Director at reputable advertising agency Air Paris since 2007. He launched the New York office and successfully led creative until 2018 through his strong and precise vision for the agency’s clients across all communication platforms.
His advertising experience includes leading the creative for brands that span from premium and prestige to mainstream and masstige categories – across print, film, digital, social, branding, design, packaging and strategy. Clients include Valentino, Brioni, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Longchamp, Juicy Couture, Elizabeth Arden, Guess, Coty, LVMH and many others.
His editorial experience includes serving in 2005 as the creative director of cutting-edge Surface Magazine and starting the Surface Agency to create crossover brand collabs, concept homes, curated exhibits and a branded hotel. His work earned him a National Design Award Nomination by the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Since 2014, Teklos has also been a contributing Creative Director to Vogue Magazine for select international editions. His critically acclaimed book Polaroids for photographer Diego Uchitel, was published by Damiani Press in 2012.
Born in Cyprus and living in New York City for over 20 years, he credits his multicultural sensibility and bicontinental living for his aesthetic and influences.
1. What was your very first job?
Assistant curator of the international typographic exhibit at the United Nations and multimedia artist in collaboration with concept-hub futureflair for the French Biennial.
2. How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? What was there train of events that brought you to where you are today?
I was drawn to the creative world since childhood. I started drawing and painting lessons at the age of 6. I discovered graphic design through my art teacher because she saw that I loved the idea of communication and designing messages. It wasn't until I went to study at Pratt that I discovered art direction as a way to combine all the things I loved into one: the synergy of coming up with a concept and translating it into a sensorial experience across many platforms. I’ve had an enormous passion for it ever since, it just made sense.
3. In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?
I'm obsessed with the idea of progress and evolution. As a hybrid of a European New Yorker I try to be constantly exposed to new ideas, whether it's from observing people on the street, traveling or looking at art, design, film, fashion and architecture. I'm also fascinated by technology which keeps me constantly energized with what's next. There is no specific formula to my inspiration; most of the time, it's instinctive and can come from anything.
4. If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be?
You can never pick one of your children as the best one, there is too much effort, time, thinking, pride and passion that goes into each project to credit some over others. A success for each client is a showcase of success for us so I always find something that I love and obsess about a project, whether it’s the newness and creativity we bring to it or a sense of disruption in its category. I also love projects that are either a complete match to my personal aesthetics or the complete opposite! As an eternal optimist I prefer to challenge my limits than limit my challenges.