I wish I’d done this


, , , , , , ,

Janusz Stanny

Born in 1932, Stanny is described as one of the most known and one of the greatest illustrators and graphic artists of polish posters, drawings and books.

In 1952-56, he studied the posters under Henryk Tomaszewski. Stanny took on graphic design and animation.

To get an idea of the geography of my students’ thinking, at the beginning I’ve asked them to answer with a  drawing to my question – ‘Why doesn’t this cat fish the mice?’ – It was a good test – you had to switch to thinking with the picture.” – Janusz Stanny

Three gentlemen in a boat (and a dog)

 A lot of his work included humour and strong lines and blocks of colours, while at the same time, showing appreciation for the negative space.

Janusz Stanny is the author of over 200 book covers, which include those for: ”Pan Tadeusz”; ”Don Kichot”; Andersen’s ‘Fairytales”;  ”O malarzu rudym jak cegła”; ”Koń i kot” (the last two he wrote himself) etc.

The Island of missing ships

   I have been a viewer of his work through my childhood books and the occasional movie posters that I have seen across the older books or in antiquaries.

What struck me with his works is the use of colour and the images used. The are often abstract but used along with collage parts and lines, merging them together.

The books he wrote, where taken from the images in his head. He had the images already constructed, the text had to come in later.

I enjoy Stanny’s admission that when a client saw his image of a blue dwarf, he protested that dwarves are red. But Stanny said that he saw a blue dwarf and it stayed at that. I like that confidence that he had, especially when working during the times when communism was at large in Poland and sometimes the posters or covers included the signs against that ideology, but he also didn’t stream away from it, he just did what he did, and that was what mattered the most.


”When you illustrate, you have to read, I’m not saying just the classics, that are illustrated, but also about the human, who wrote them, as you should to know something about them.” – Janusz Stanny

He was a promotor of around 250 diplomas. He died on the 13 February 2015, just sixteen days before his 82nd birthday.

About those two that stole the moon

One of his works that I wish to have done, comes from his own book – ”About a painter, ginger like a brick”, this book was also an inspiration for a short children’s book story that I have just finished writing and hopefully will be able to illustrate soon.

”About a painter, ginger like a brick”

Here is the piece that I wish I have done:


It is actually a spread of a book. What has captured my interest in these two images is the use of media. The use of wax candle brings me back to the age of seven and drawing the stick figures of my parents on a big piece of paper, while at the same time I am unable to properly draw a straight line. On the other hand the use of black ink draws into the effect of balance between the two mediums, as well as it shows that an illustrator can do both, the professional image and revert back to the use of childhood mediums that were available to us during the 1950’s and 1990’s. The third reason that made me look at this spread is the positioning of the text and it’s font. Instead of making his own font, Stanny has decided to use what already was there and he didn’t use it in a fancy way, I enjoy that casual positioning of the text as it still integrates well with the images.

Moreover Stanny’s images show that there doesn’t have to be a multitude of colours in a children’s book, it can be varied, it can be limited. You just have to be clever about the use of it.

I wish I’d done this


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Alain Gree


The French illustrator and author Alain Grée was born on July, 21st 1936 in Eaubonne near Paris. He is the author of three detective novels (“La Chouette” editions) and produced children’s broadcasts on the French national television for two years. He studied in Paris at the “Ecole des Arts Appliqués” (atelier d’Art Graphique) and at the “Beaux Arts de Paris”. Gree has published over 300 books for several editors (Casterman, Hachette, etc.), most in the 1960s and 1970s. His books were translated around the world into 25 different languages. He also worked as an illustrator for “Pomme d’Api” and “Journal de Babar” magazines.Later he created 10 books as initiation works to ship navigation for Gallimard editions.He was also a journalist for the “Voiles et Voiliers” (sailing ships) magazine for 20 years and is currentlyworking as a graphic designer and editor of advertising publications.

Alain Grée recently remastered some of his earlier children’s books for the Japanese book editions of Geneon Entertainment Inc. and for the British book editions of Button Books.
He has been working closely together with RicoBel to develop the Alain Grée license further throughout the world.
His main hobby and passion are sailing ; he has owned several sailing ships since the 1970’s on which he has crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice ; he made many sailing trips all over the world while working on new children’s stories and illustrations on board.
He married to Monique in 1960 at Balbigny (Loire) and has 2 children.
You can find more information and interview with Alain Gree on his website.



What first catches my attention with Gree’s works are the colours. The vibrancy and the textures of the images are visually entertaining and provide enough detail and ‘feeling’ of the objects, which makes them more distinguishable as opposite to simple flat colours sometimes seen in children’s books.

Another reason for my interest in Gree’s illustrations is my childhood. I grew up in post-communist Poland, however most of my first books, textbooks, were from the communist time, and Gree’s works greatly remind me of the illustrators that I grew up with.

(The Locomotive by Julian Tuwim, illustrated by Levitt and Him)


(From the first ABC book by Falski)

Therefore we turn back to topic of ‘I wish I’d done this’.

I decided to chose one image of Gree that I have wished to do and it is:


1. Why did I choose this image?

Mainly due to the variety of the colours presented on the spread and the layout, as well as because of the many various details within. It is a story in a story.

2. Why would I wish to have done this image?

I would like to be able to be confident enough in my skills to engage the reader, viewer, in this case a child, with many objects and stories within one piece of work. A child can find something new everytime they look at the image.
It is a character that I am aiming for, to be able to tell a story through an image but to also surprise the reader, every time they open the book. Any story can be interesting, as long as it is told in an interesting way.

Update on the work


, , , , , , , ,

This week I am back to working in the uni studio. Great help, since I do not have the software I need at home.

I have focused on bringing together my pieces of collage and building up the spreads.
Here are some sneak up images:

I have added a different audience piece to a theater collage than I have initially planned on but it looked a little bit too basic. I’ve also asked around for some feedback on my work and there are some little changes and tweaks that I will need to do next week. Mostly it is to do with shadow and re-positioning few parts of the images.

There are only two more weeks until the final deadline and so much work to do.
We have held portfolio reviews today, where I’ve received a little bit of advice to rearrange and take out some of the works from my portfolio as they didn’t show my abilities and the quality of my works.
Eh. Sometimes it feels like too much stress, but in the end the effort is definitely worth it.

Easter work


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The  past week and a half have been a great time off. I was finally able to distress myself and enjoy reading again. 🙂

 I don’t usually use my half term breaks to rest, as there is always something to do, but I think I needed it so much, particularly since my last break in February, there was a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.

While I find working under pressure a necessity and a motivational atmosphere, it is also nervewracking. Everyone needs some time off.
I have spent the last week on catching up with my reading lists and watching some of the series that I have been missing out on.

However, during this week I have decided to get back into my work mode and use my time off in an efficient way to get ahead, especially with the next three weeks being the last ones of my second year, therefore I need to get ahead and make sure that I am ready to finish the project as I want to.

Here are some sneak peaks into what I have been working on. I find collage much more relaxing now and watercolours work well with the more solid blocks of colour.

A great help during this project was this book:

The illustrations by Marianna Oklejniak made me aware of certain parts of my own culture that I have straight of discarded from my project, which I’ve decided were interesting and flexible enough to use in my own project.

I am certain that I will be able to print this whole book before June. I just need to ensure that I deliver what I say I will and it’s quality. 🙂

Discussion Forum – Gender in Illustration


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image result for gender in illustration
(Illustration by Miguel Montaner )
Today’s discussion forum was led by Emma and Beth.
They started of by talking about how illustrators make autonomous decisions about their work based on their own experiences, thus the stereotypes are kept in a circle of art industry.
The next topic that E and B discussed was an illustration by Stephanie Wunderlich for a German magazine. The project was to create an illustration to an article about the chore of cooking around the time of Christmas.
(Illustration by Stephanie Wunderlich)
The first illustration that Wunderlich has send to the magazine was of a woman cooking while the rest of the family was decorating the Christmas tree, however the editor of the magazine has stated that it represents a stereotypical image of the task and would prefer if it was a man who cooked (image on the right).
 It seemed as a good illustration, therefore it was accepted, however E and B pointed out to us how over the top the new image was and how it is stereotyping the view of the homosexual men:
– the pinched fingers;
-baubles around shoulders;
-glass of wine in the other hand;
-bow tie;
-chefs hat.
Moreover, we noticed the typical stereotyped colours of blue for a man and red/pink for the woman.
We talked about the fact that a man is wearing a chefs hat, while the woman doesn’t have it, the same about the wine glass.
At the same time we speculated that Wunderlich wanted to exaggerate the stereotypes on purpose, as well as the possibility that these illustrations are created in a way to appeal to the magazine’s audience who prefer the stereotyped illustrations.
 The next point of the discussion were the Guerilla Girls, a group of anonymous females who appear in public wearing gorilla masks. They produce posters, books and events that aim to expose sexism and racism in politics and the art/media industry, by using humour to convey the message and infomation and to further provoke disscussion.
We have disscussed the poster below:
(Poster by Guerrilla Girls)

The media is what drives the stereotype, by appealing certain types of audiences, who then pass on the stereotypes that they have seen, read, experienced and pass it on in a circle to others, what ends up in the media again.

Stereotypes derive from the majority.

Further we have talked about video games and the limits of women exposure within them: i.e FIFA (female players are available only in exhibition games; their forms are very basic); Lara Croft (oversexualised women); with Minecraft and Assassin’s Creed being a more open games with more female gamers and characters in the games.

Also, for children, most of the video games that are online are stereotyped: girls play dress ups and colouring ins, while boys are able to play the more adventorous games, like car racing, puzzles, logical games.

However, the big question is whether it is the parents themselves who prefer to provide their children with gender specified games that further deepen the stereotypes?

(Illustration by KATA)

I think it all depends on our perspective on the topic and how we ourselves utilize our experiences, knowledge and open mindness.

Powerful illustrations of women against social prejudices.

Ben Jones


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently I have contacted an illustrator Ben Jones, in order to find out more about art practitioners and their profession.

 Jones was born outside Manchester, England. He has studied at Stockport College and is being represented by the Heart Agency since 2014.

 Ben utilises printmaking and collage to create his imagery, which are then manipulated digitally.
He starts usually starts with a screen or lino printing, he then collages on top of these with textures and found imagery.
 His works seem to always reflect on the history and politics of the world, seemingly comparing the history to the present realities.
 Ben Jones has a regular commission to illustrate the covers of The Lancet medical journal, as well as he regularly works for the New York Times. His other clients include The New Yorker, The Guardian, The World Today, The Economist and the New Statesman.
 Jones has also produced many book covers, working for the French publisher Gallimard, as well as John Murray, Houghton Mifflin and Pushkin Press. He has written a novel ‘On The Way Down’ and a chapbook ‘The Fop’, both published by Rotland Press.
 His most recognised commission has been an illustrated edition of The Clockwork Orange Published by The Folio Society. He created a unique visual interpretation of Burgess’ vision. Ben found inspiration in the use of slang and formation of a language, like a collage from existing elements.
 The use of a bowler hat on the cover is a nod to Kubrick’s role in making the novel so well known, while at the same time he looked away from Kubrick to create a diverse set of inside illustrations.
Select Client List:
BBC History Magazine, The Boston Globe, Clerkenwell Post, DuJour Magazine, easyJet Magazine, The Economist, Éditions Gallimard, The Folio Society, The Guardian, Hermès, Houghton Mifflin, Johns Hopkins Magazine, John Murray Publishers, The Lancet, The Long + Short, New Statesman, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Pushkin Press, The World Today.
I have contacted Ben Jones to ask him a few questions about his approach towards his work. Below you will find his answers.
(Kesja)   1. How do you approach a commissioned work vs a personal project?
(Ben Jones)  My personal work tends to revolve around social, political, surreal ideas. I like to make works developed from my own writings or make works then come up with a narrative after. I am mainly influenced by writings and history when making personal work as well as fine art practice. With personal work you don’t need to be too concerned with clients so there is a lot of freedom and personal opinion involved. Commissioned work always deals with communication. This can often be very in-depth and complicated subjects that require a bit of back ground research. Commissions also can have very strict deadlines. The two do cross over and inform one another however.
(K)  2. Many of your editorial works feature metaphors and symbolism. Do you find it easy or hard to extract the necessary information from the text and to find a suitable metaphor.symbol?
(BJ)  I tend to lend ideas from the surrealists. I think of as many metaphors, tangible and intangible then start to let these collide. I try to match up elements that don’t belong together. I also like to approach ideas from a more emotional stance but still like to have strange elements incorporated.
(K)  3. Do you have a special place that you work/illustrate in?
(BJ)  I work from a studio space in my flat. I prefer to work from home as I enjoy listening to music without earphones. I also tend to make a lot of mess due to using print and collage. I make sure to surround myself with inspirational objects, artwork and plants. I have a poster on my wall by my favourite artist Jan Lenica,  old letterpress type some strange ornaments and a few geek things such as an astro boy figure from Japan. I also share the studio space with my girlfriend Sarah who is a fine artist. It is healthy to be able to talk about art outside of the illustration world.
(K)  4. Has there ever been a commission that you didn’t know how to approach?
(BJ)  Earlier on in my career every commission was difficult to approach this was due to me not fully understanding my process of both making the work and in coming up with communicative ideas. As my working methods have evolved commissions have become much more natural. Working as an artist means you are always learning. Its a very exciting working as an artist.
(K) 5. What was one of the best advices that you were given in regards to art and your work?

(BJ)  I would say two bits of advice. One From Gary  (Gary Spicer – context tutor) that is to always retain your integrity when making works. The other would be from The illustrator Paul Davis he told me to just draw, draw, draw. I think as long as you are true to yourself, work hard and enjoy what you are doing then it shows in your works.

I think it was both interesting and informative to learn a bit more about an established practitioner’s working method and influences, particularly because it gives an insight into what we as beginning practitioners  can expect from the industry, as well as how we can improve on our methods of working and techniques.
I think it was helpful to find out what inspires other artists to work as they do, and further to hear how personal and commissioned works can differ and yet be similar.

Visit Ben Jones website here.

Discussion Forum The Future of Illustration


, , , , , , , , , ,

Today’s discussion forum was lead by Jo and Sasha, who talked about the future and the existence of illustration.

If illustration is to be BIG (again) then it must be culturally RELEVANT, beyond magazines and newspapers.

J and S started with an open question- What did it (illustration) used to mean?

– Medical illustration;
– Wildlife illustration;
– Posters;
– Stamps;
– Book covers.

Back in the day, before we went digital, around the post World War II, to be able to become a successful illustrator, you had to be able to draw, to actually draw in a technical way; i.e: anatomy.

(image source)
The discussion then shifted into how the illustration is being made in a less traditional way and that illustrators are moving with the age of technology.
 We are the witnesses to a huge shift from the use of pencils, paints etc. to the utilisation of digital media and software i.e: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator; and the accessibility of social media like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr in order to share the work and build a reputation.
J and S went on to ask us – How can we / How are we embracing the digital tools available to us?
 We talked about how most of the illustrators adapt our work to a more competitive industry that emerged now through the social media.
 The truth is, if you are an illustrator and you are not participating, if you are not out there using these platforms then WHY BOTHER?  If you are not out there then you won’t get noticed and you will not be able to reach success.
However we also talked about the possibility of both embracing the digital media and using it in a minimal way, where it doesn’t dominate the illustrator’s work i.e: Christoph Newman’s work:
 It is an example of how a digital manipulation can aid an illustrator in their creative process.
The last topic of the discussion was – Where do you think illustration will be in 5 years time?
This is a hard question, because on one side we are seeing the extinction of handwork on illustration and though there will always be a traditional illustrator, there might not be that many of them.
On the other hand the industry of illustrations is ever expanding. Virtual reality and apps programming is allowing us as professionals to reach new territories within our disciplines and outside of them. Moreover, cartoons are back in the business and digital comics are becoming more wide spread. The new generation of audience will make it harder on us but also push us to adapt to the age of technology. After all it’s all about the user experience, the audience is our client.
We have to be able to respond to changes.

I wish I’d done this – Marianna Sztyma


, , , , , , , , , ,

Marianna Sztyma was born in Poland, she is a graduate of Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland.

She created a number of editorial illustrations for magazines such as: Twoj Styl; Press; Newsweek; Wysokie Obcasy; Zwierciadla; Elle; Wprost; as well as many illustrations for children’s books.

Sztyma  utilises mixed media, particularly collage, painting, crayons, as well as digital manipulations.
 I think that her paintings are more about herself and expressing her whole being, while her illustrations are more of a primary way of working.
Her works are surreal and playful, with a palette of bright and balanced colours.
I have chosen one work of hers that I wish I’d done.
It is an illustration for a children’s book- Mr. Pantalon’s Umbrella
This is the illustration (below)
What I enjoy in this illustration is the composition of the spread, as well as the use of the mixed media.
 The use of primary colours for the main characters helps them stand out to a child, furthermore the spread allows for space to breathe, therefore the young reader is not overwhelmed by the action and objects within the illustration.
 I think what I would like to take away from this piece into my own works is the use of media such as crayons and pastels, as these are usually associated with kids, children’s art. I think that by using these primary media of the young reader, we as the illustrators are moving closer to the reader, as well as we are going back to our own childhood, which may help us in creating child friendly illustrations.
You can visit Sztyma’s works on her Facebook page.

Discussion Forum – How to sell your work?


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Few weeks before the half-term, we held a discussion forum lead by two of our peers, Ashley and Nayim.
 The topic of the forum was ‘How to sell your work?’.
It is a topic that many beginning illustrators are afraid to approach, mainly because they don’t know where to start off.
 -A and N started with the Advantages and Disadvantages of working together in a collective/studio.
+ sharing costs and equipment;
+ promoting each other;
+ sharing the workload;
+ help and support each other;
+ inspiring and motivating each other.
+ shared cost and equipment – how do you split the costs?;
+ splitting the profits – can you split it equally?;
+ disagreements – can you solve differences and arguments?;
+ different personalities – can they work together or are those temperaments too different?.
-Next A and N discussed the advantages/disadvantages of agencies and agents, as well as when to take on an agent.
+ they can promote you;
+ they can secure higher fees;
+ clients trust them more.
+ they take a profit percentage from you;
+ misunderstandings may occur;
+ they may want exclusive rights.
However, before you sign a contract with an agent you should have been commissioned before and take it very seriously. Track the record of agent’s and agencies industry success, get an agent who can specialise in your style of work. Most important – KEEP TRYING if you can’t find it at first.
Here is a short list of available agencies:
 Agencies can provide support, portfolio reviews and wider promotion through their websites, however many of them ask you to pay for the membership and for being represented.
-A and N talked with us about Portfolios as well.
(Portfolio example – Nayeon Lee)
+ Stick to provided guidelines;
+ Incorporate advice from trusted advisors;
+ Make it memorable;
+ Update it regularly.
Here you can find more Portfolio examples.
– Furthermore we discussed ways to promote our work and in turn sell it.
+ Competitions:
§ YCN;
§ MacMillan Children’s Book Competition;
§ Creative Review;
§ D&AD;
§ Association of Illustrators;
§ Folio Illustrators;
§ TFL;
§ Penguin and Puffin Books.
+ Websites for selling your work:
§ Etsy;
§ Threadless;
§ Zazzle;
§ Society 6;
§ Big Cartel;
+ Other options:
§ Craft fairs;
§ Comic Cons;
§ Local markets.
– How to approach email
Emails should be kept personal but at the same time professional.
Avoid too much familiarity. Be selective in who you email.
– Using Social Media to Promote your work:
+ Best days to upload your work – Thursday-Sunday;
+ Best time of the day to upload your work – 12 noon – 6pm;
+ Keep your private profile and art profile separately.
+ Make them stand out;
+ Supply clear and professional images (72/100 dpi);
+ Seek contributors.
 Overall, I think it was a good discussion, though maybe it lacked a little bit more information on how to set up a website and what to avoid when doing it. On the other hand it provided new sources of information and ways of selling my work that I wasn’t aware before.

Little Personal Project


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Hmm, I am not sure if this could be called a project. It’s one drawing on which I am now working in between research and my work for the Polish school, where I volunteer.

I became interested in a show called Pushing Daisies, created by Bryan Fuller (the creator of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me).


This quirky series follows Ned (Lee Pace, Wonderfalls), a young man with a very special gift. As a boy, Ned discovered that he could return the dead briefly back to life with just one touch.
But now as a pie maker, Ned puts his ability to good use, not only touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavour, but working with a private investigator to crack murder cases by raising the dead and getting them to name their killers. (I got into this because of Fuller’s Hannibal).
It gets complicated, when Ned brings his childhood sweetheart (Anna Friel, Goal), Chuck, back from the dead and unfortunately keeps her alive. Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson’s private-investigation enterprise, encouraging them to use Ned’s skills for good, not just for profit. Life would be perfect for Ned and Chuck, except for one cruel twist: if he ever touches her again, she’ll go back to being dead, this time for good. (Description )

That led me to being interested in the main character’s actor, Lee Grinner Pace.
Anyway, it ended up with me drawing that actor.
Here’s my drawing process so far:

I will try to add some more quality photos later on, however I am currently working at night, due to my cold, my day routine got turned around, so my time of working is 2am-6am.

Hopefully, the drawing will turn out pretty good.