The Greek Islands Beyond The Blue And White Stereotype

Joe Howard evokes the multi-layered mystique of the Greek islands in these sun-drenched snapshots taken from his new book, KYANOS

The word "kyanos", meaning "dark blue enamel", is where the word "cyan" is derived from, and while many will associate the word with the colour blue, it has also been used to describe darker tones. Greek philosophers use the term intermittently to mean both dark blue and black. In a book on precious stones, Aristotle's pupil Theophrastus describes the (blue) lapis lazuli as being kyanos-coloured. In Homer's Iliad, the colour of steel and also Hector of Troy's hair are described likewise.

I unknowingly started working on KYANOS in September 2019 when I visited Greece for the first time, exploring the islands of Sifnos and Milos. As most people do, I fell in love. I've now visited 10 islands over the past five years, and still have many more on the list. On each trip, I realised how diverse the landscapes were, from the Listerine-blue waters of Paxos and Kefalonia's pine-forested cliffs to the volcanic, wind-bashed and harsh landscapes of Milos.

It was a deliberate choice to give my new book this name but not give it a blue cover. I wanted to explore the double meaning of the word and give space to the stereotype of Greece but also to pay homage to the warmer tones of the country. When I think of Greece, I don't just think of that typical blue and white juxtaposition - I think of rich reds, burnt orange and vivid greens. This book explores the rough and rugged side of some of Greece's most popular destinations - but also some beautiful hidden gems on lesser-known islands.

The Lowdown

Joe Howard is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of KYANOS. Head to to support the campaign, and pledge £40 in return for a signed copy of the book.