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Subsign Spotlight #043.

Subsign: First, can you tell as a few things about yourself?

NikolaMy name is Nikola and I live in Silesia region in Poland. I deal with illustration, comics and drawing. I illustrate children’s books and create my own original publications. I like reading, sleeping and stroking cats. I am addicted to coffee and good music.

Subsign: What did you wanted to be as a grown up?

NikolaWhen I was a child I wanted to be an artists or a surrogate. Since I do not have proper qualifications to do the first one, I could only become an artist. Being incredibly talented, my father was a great example for me. Endlessly, he has been giving me new ideas, tools and suggested new techniques. Painting books, that I used to pick up from my fathers’ library, were my favorite. I would go through my favorite one, on Bosh paintings, thousands of times. Admiring “The Garden of Earthly Delights” I was carefully analyzing each scene in the triptychs. My love for books was as strong as the passion for drawing, therefore I was illustrating all the stories my father was telling me. I still follow this track. Now, however illustrating the books I read is my profession.

Subsign: How does your Workstation look like?

NikolaUnfortunately, my workstation is hard to call a glamorous one. It’s a single, too small desk that I bought two years ago. I still don’t know why I chose this size. I try to keep it as clean as possible what, due to its size, is not an easy task. Attribute of the place is a cup of coffee and huge amount of cat’s fur. Cats owners know perfectly well that a keyboard and a tablet are favorite nap spots of each cat-assistant. I dream of my own beautiful studio but up to now it is only a dream.

Subsign: Do you have a work style? How would you describe it?

NikolaI create cartoon like pieces related to the comics style. It’s my love for speech balloons and attachment to contours that led me to that style. I like drawing light, humorous illustrations with distinctive characters. As comic books give the possibility for interesting merging of the styles, it has become sort of my natural medium.

Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?

Nikola: The longer I work as an illustrator, the more time and attention I can pay to the drawing itself. The time taught me that good planning and thinking makes the work more pleasurable, easier and faster. Therefore, I start sketching once I thought everything over, my plan is ready and I know what to base my idea on. The first task is to plan the book layout and create a model of the publication. Later on, I master further parts of the centerfold. The first drawings are created by pencil and later on are scanned. The composition is perfected on computer then colors are added. While working, I drink hectoliters of coffee, listen to audio books and podcasts, and only from time to time do I have time to take a break and stroke my cat on the belly.

Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?

NikolaFrom my experience I can tell there are two kinds of artists. One are those fascinated by the work so much that they frame even the palette they used to create the painting. The second however, are constantly unsatisfied with their work, no matter whether there is any reason for that.

I am more like the second group, the complaining one. Therefore, my favourite work is the one that hasn’t been created yet. The most beautiful and perfect one, is the one that hasn’t been put on paper yet and the picture has not been materialized. Once the drawing is finished, it seems imperfect. I instantly think about dozens of things I could do better. Thus, at receiving the ready book I lose interest in it as soon as realise what I could have corrected and decide to implement the notes to the next publication.

My last book is “Jak to działa. Zwierzęta”  (How things work? Animals”.  As it is my most recent work I can say it’s the dearest to me.

Subsign: Who do you follow for inspiration?

Nikola: Once, in an English text book, I saw an illustration made by David Roberts. Wasn’t it for them I would deal with the job “for real”. Thus, Roberts was my first and greatest inspiration.

The other one was Shaun Tan who, in my opinion, is the best illustrator in the world. I love his books. Thanks to them I started to believe that a book can be a piece of art. After I have discovered “The Lost Thing” and “Rabbits”, I started adding spots to all my illustrations to gain similar effect to his illustrations. After few experiments, I sadly concluded it’s not my path and chose my own. I still however, buy all books illustrated by Tan.

My third inspiration were comic books by Guillaume Bianco, which attracted my attention towards comics. I love the way he designs his publications – they are full of glamour and are stylized. Intertwining the comic style with the illustration pages, he creates little pieces of art.

Subsign: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?

NikolaI presume, the most important is determination in pursuing your aims and a big deal of lucky breaks. The truth is that frequently, in spite of hard work, it is difficult to get through with your works. It is the determination and faith in what you do. Having good teachers and customers is also very useful. They can help you finding your own artistic path and posing challenges that can contribute to further development.

Subsign: If you would have a super power, what would it be?

NikolaTime travel! I suppose I would prefer to see the past events with my own eyes, rather than to travel to the future. The possibility of seeing famous places in the past seems more exciting to me. I would certainly travel to prehistory to touch Brachiosaurus and observe a herd of Saber-toothed cats.

Subsign: Can you recommend to our readers a book, a song and a movie?

NikolaI am now reading a great comic book by Ciril Pedros “Portugal”. I can recommend it not only due to its graphic side, but also for the text. Also “A Tale of Sand” is worth recommendation. That one takes advantage of all the possibilities that comic books give in such a way that makes one’s head spin.

As far as literature is concerned, it is difficult to choose just one favorite book. Depending on the day and mood, every day I would probably choose a different piece. On this day, I can think of books by Murakami and Carroll. I keep coming back to those books regularly as I love their style that adds some magic to simple, everyday events. I can especially recommend “The End of the World” and “Hard-boiled Wonderland” by Murakami and “The Land of Laughs” by Jonathan Carroll.

I found especially appealing the “What we do in the shadows” film, with its great black humour. The way the worn off topic of vampires is shown in that film deserves attention.

The music I choose, similarly to books, depends greatly on my mood which rules my taste and likes. I like Iron Maiden and System of a Down, recently, after a long break, I tend to come back to softer pieces like those by Kate Bush or Florence and the Machine.

Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?

NikolaI am not keen on parties and rather a stay-at-home kind of person. Therefore, I would most preferably not organised any party at all. I definitely prefer small parties at which the number of guests is not higher that three, including me.

Subsign: What famous people would you invite to the party and why?

NikolaShould I choose companion for my afternoon tea, I would certainly send my invitations to Sherlock Holmes, Leonardo da Vinci, Sniff from the Moomins and Countess Elizabeth Báthory. I am really curious what conversations we would cover at such a table!

Thank you Nikola for being a part of it!

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For more of Nikola’s work you can follow her on the links: Nikola’s websiteNikola on Behnce


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"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard."

Guy Kawasaki