I start with understanding the subject and people. I ask different questions in order to identify their wants and needs. How do they live? What do they like? Why would they want to hang my illustration on the wall in their home? Once I gather all the information, I start thinking. The illustration is a problem that I need to solve as a designer and it is always somewhere in the back of my mind — even while doing the dishes or vacuuming. Once there are some tiny seeds of ideas in my head, I open my notebook and start sketching. I digitalise these and build mood boards to choose the right colours. After printing, the project is ready for its last and final stage – hanging on the client’s wall! Your work is minimalistic in style but incredibly bold. How do you decide what elements you’re going to focus on?
Our world is made of tiny little things. When I look out of the window, I see both the big picture and all the things that build it. Living our busy and hectic lives, we sometimes forget to notice and appreciate the little things. In my work, I try to make up for that and highlight only those elements that matter. Without the surrounding noise, even the most trivial thing becomes very important. Research and understanding helps me identify that one object or concept. How long did it take you to develop your own personal style?
Oh, do you think it is done yet? (laughs) I started making illustrations about a year ago. I experimented with different styles to find my very own set of tools. There was a time when every single day I would make one illustration in two or three different styles and post it on Instagram to find out which version people like more. Even though I deleted my Instagram account, I still work in different styles depending on nature of the project. My style is a signature but it is also a tool — the more versatile it is, the better.
What is it about Japanese aesthetics that appeals to you?
Japanese aesthetics celebrate life through respect and appreciation. Concepts like wabi-sabi helped me find beauty in the most prosaic activities. Traditional Japanese aesthetics taught me to demand less and see more. I believe that my work reflects this approach. What has been your favourite project to work on so far? For my graduation project at the University of Wrocław, together with my partner Nikola Janczak I conceived, wrote, partially illustrated, and published a pilot issue of an independent magazine named "Moment 0”. The magazine focuses on fellow students, graduates, and young professionals who pursue their dreams and passions. Thanks to recycled citrus-based paper, the magazine was not only environmentally friendly, but also had a distinctive appearance of an old book. Moment 0 was designed to offer a joyful and focused reading experience, filled with appreciation for the articles inside and the feel of the paper. I still remember how I felt when I picked it up from the printing house. It is one of my happiest memories.
What would your dream collaboration be?
There are so many wonderful illustrators who I admire. Geoff McFetridge, Anna Kövecses, Anna Dun, Jack Daly, and many others. I would be delighted to work with them.
What’s next in the pipeline?
On a daily basis I work as an user experience designer at a renowned branding studio in Wrocław, Poland. I love making illustrations but if I were to tell you where I see myself in the next couple of years, that’d probably be a cosy office where I create compelling experiences and design user-friendly apps. I do, however, wish to mix things up in the future and move to a small town where I could illustrate and take pictures of ordinary-extraordinary things that surround me. Wouldn’t that be something? See and shop our full series with Jaroslaw here.