Duration: Seven years.
Location: Tokyo, Japan.
Education: BS in political science, University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland; MA in visual arts and illustration, Camberwell College of Arts, London, United Kingdom.
Career path: I’m originally from Wrocław, a city in the southwest part of Poland. I always wanted to do art—or maybe I should say I always wanted to do creative things. But in my head, my idea of being an artist was connected with someone special, someone with huge talent—a genius. When I applied and was not accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, I took it to confirm that I was not an artist, so I studied political science. It was a very interesting degree, and I don’t regret it at all.
Later, I entered the field of advertising as a creative, thinking this kind of creative practice would be enough for me. However, the need to draw and make things the way I wanted to was still very strong, so when I was 33 years old, I decided to follow my heart. I quit my job, moved to London and got my MA in visual arts. Since then, I’ve been a full-time artist. There have been many ups and downs, but being an artist has always kept a huge smile on my face.
Artistic influences: I grew up under the communist government in Poland, so in my childhood, I was surrounded by art created by the Polish School of Posters, and graphic novels like Thorgal and Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek. However, when we finally gained access to Western pop culture, I fell completely in love with it—magazines for young people, MTV, bright colors, movies and toys. I consider these my formative influences.
Today, my inspiration is easily found online with Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. However, it sometimes feels a bit overwhelming and even depressing, as people only like to share success stories. It’s good to go out and look at the city and landscape, the people around me, the fashion on the street, the architecture and the changing seasons. It’s good to balance our digital inspiration with our lived experiences because they’re our own.
Favorite projects: My personal project, a zine called Tokyo Bits. It’s a short story about me moving to Tokyo and my initial struggles of navigating a completely new environment. At the beginning, I hadn’t really planned on making a zine out of it; I was just sad and had a lot of free time on my hands, so I walked around the city with my sketchbook and drew. After seeing all the images I’d made, it came to me that this could be a zine. This work helped me to see myself at that time and realize many things—and it paid off, as Tokyo Bits got shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards by the Association of Illustration in London in its new talent category.
Work environment: At the moment, I live in Tokyo, Japan, which is obviously a very different place than Europe. It challenges me a lot, but I also find it rewarding. I can assure everyone that this quote by Hannah Höch, one of my favorite artists, is true: “There are millions and millions of other justifiable points of view besides yours and mine today.” It’s only through these different points of view that we can grow as artists and humans.
When it comes to physical space, I mostly work from my small studio at home—you know Tokyo; small spaces with high rent! But I am lucky because there’s a small temple right next to my apartment, so the surrounding area is nice and quiet—even though it is in central Tokyo. I also travel a lot, working on different projects or exhibitions; fortunately, I can do my work almost anywhere. I strive for a nice balance between being indoors and out.
Philosophy: It took me a long time to finally follow my heart and do what I love the most, so this is now my main life philosophy: stay true to who I am, and follow my instincts, interests and feelings.
Anything else? I like to make things that are more physical, so since I’ve moved to Japan, I’ve started working with clay. Treating ceramic surfaces as my canvas has been an amazing practice that has helped me keep balance in my work, clients and commercial commitments. It has also taught me to be more patient, accept imperfections and embrace change. It pushed me to sketch more and to not only think in 2-D but also in 3-D as well. Together with my dear friend in Poland, I’ve created an art brand called Mellow Fever, where I show all my ceramic pieces. It’s great to have something else besides our work where we can still be creative and just play. And do stupid things!