For this article in the international artist series, we turn to Poland, featuring eight artists who create fantastic work, from illustration to graphic design and more! I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Kaja is an artist based in Rzeszow. Her work is fun and lively, featuring character designs and illustrations. You can check out some of it below or in her portfolio.
"I think a sense of humor, sarcasm, and a judgmental point of view might be characteristic for Poland. We use a lot of ambiguous words in conversation which are supposed to be funny or sarcastic in context.
Character Design 2015
"I also love to be funny and try to be in my illustrations. I love to expose that 'not ideal' or 'more interesting' part of people that might be considered a sarcastic point of view too.
Ladies From 2014
"As for straight inspiration from my culture, Grzegorz Rosiński and his Thorgal series were something that influenced me most in my childhood, and I'm still faithful to organic, human-like lines in my work."
Piotr is an illustrator and designer in Tamów. His work is fantastic, filled with dense texture and interesting lines and forms. You can check out some of his pieces below or in his portfolio!
"Poland is a beautiful country. We have four seasons in the year, so the landscape changes every three months. I have to admit that most Polish people are not rich so every place in my country has a dark side too.
Wyjście / Mr. Bald
"The variety of lifestyles and differences between standards of living make Poland difficult to describe in a few words. All of this has an influence on my artwork because I try to show the anxiety of my compatriots, their fears and thoughts, which are mostly not happy.
Bad Dogs / Złe Psy
"We are a distinct nation with a difficult history. Our history shows that we can fight and defend our honor and independence. Polish people have two sides by nature: the first one is proud, brave, and hardworking. The second is darker; sometimes we are selfish, dishonest, and not modern. I try to show these two sides of our nature in my work.
Cod Liver-Oil Poster
"Sometimes I taunt our culture because, to be honest, we are buzzkills. We have a lot of important symbols, icons, and ideas which we aren't supposed to laugh at. When someone tries to make a joke about these ideas our society perceives them as an 'enemy'. Our nation has no sense of humor; especially when we talk about national issues. My artwork is full of the grotesque, society's fears, anxiety, and irony."
Bartosz is an illustrator based in Łódź. His work is fantastic and often figurative with a paint-like texture mixed into it. You can check out a small selection below or more in his portfolio.
Game of Thrones Portraits
"As I started drawing in pre-internet Poland, the art I was mostly exposed to as a kid was Polish art. As a teenager, I was a huge fan of Franciszek Starowieyski whose extraordinary drawing skills enabled him to create posters which were metaphorical, surreal and dark at the same time.
Ace of Spades
"I also loved the works of Polish Art Nouveau artists so I suppose they all have somehow influenced the way I draw.
Points of Courage for Hiscox Insurance
"I think that my film posters have been to some extent influenced by "Polish Poster School", which used metaphoric imagery instead of typical Hollywood depiction of the film protagonists."
LeBron James for Hollywood Reporter
Kuba is a UI designer based in Krakow. His clean and modern work makes for fantastic websites and interactive media. You can check out a small selection below or more in his portfolio.
Nutrition Experts - Homepage Design Proposal
"Poland is very interesting country with a lot of open-minded and energetic people that create a unique atmosphere. A lot of Poles have a very strong need to change the world around them, so being part of that society strongly motivates me to always go an extra mile and to seek passion in what I do.
Quickhost - Flat UI Design Concept
"Apart from being a great place to work, Poland, with its remarkable mountains, lakes and beautiful whereabouts, is also an amazing place to relax, which undoubtedly has enormous influence on how my creative juices are flowing.
De Agency - Flat UI Design Concept
"After the fall of communism, design in Poland has taken very different, unexpected, and sometimes really ugly form. Many of the rules created by communists were rejected (as a peculiar manifest of freedom) and that led to chaos in architecture, advertising, and design in general.
"Now, after almost 30 years of freedom we started to feel that good design is an indissoluble part of our nation's identity and culture. A lot of companies and entrepreneurs finally have started to put more pressure on good design and that fact created a large space for designers who put a lot of effort in to what they do. I personally find this process really inspiring."
Krzysztof is a graphic designer based in Łódź. His work is bold and a joy to see in print. You can check out a small selection below or more in his portfolio.
"The city I live in is just so different from most cities in Poland. It is pretty new compered to Warsaw or Gdansk. So it has been built with a completely different concept. There is no old town, no city square, no typical tourist attractions. Instead, there are tons of post-industrial factories, tenements and a museum of modern art with an amazing collection of 20th and 21st century art.
"One of my favorite things is associated with the city heritage. It used to be a combination of four cultures Jewish, German, Russian and Polish and this made a city. Of course all of this was killed during the communist era, but now the city is rebuilding and recovering again.
"Because of this clash of cultures many ideas were mixed together creating something unique. Lodz’s design was always under huge influence of Russian constructivism, ideas of Bauhaus and what comes with it typography and collage.
The Jungle Book
"I try to break the typographic poster tradition and mix it, somehow, with photography, elements of illustration or any other experiments with media and paper. That is way I try to change my so called 'style' quite often simply because I got bored after a while.
"I believe that copying yourself might not work in the long term. My work has to be dynamic and has to evolve continuously. Maybe this is the main influence; not the country itself, but the climate of Poland.
"Climate in the sense of a general atmosphere of quite rapid changes that took place after ’89. Changing a political system was a turning point for all Poles and has an impact on every aspect of life, and of course art and design.
Film School Cinema 2015/16
"The culture of Poland is in a process of rebuilding, and it’s really fun to watch this and to be a part of it of course. This might be a reason why communist design become so popular in Poland in past few years.
"We finally came to conclusion that 50 years of communist era was not a black hole in the country's cultural development. In fact it was something unique, something that only Poland has. I try to use some of this in my works but with a safe dose. I translate it into a new form of design and make it modern bold and fresh."
Anna is a graphic designer based in Wrocław, Poland. Her work is fantastic with a strong sense of design. You can check out a small sample below or more in her portfolio.
"I think that Poland is still a country with a lot of complexity, but recently I really appreciate Wroclaw and my country as a good place to live.
Business Card Pack 2014/15
"We have plenty of great places and traditions, and I like that we can still be close to nature, even in the city. I think that Poland has shaped my approach to design on many levels, but in particular make me ambitious and hard-working person."
Raspberry - Vegan and Organic Confectionery
Robert is a painter and illustrator based in Wrocław. His work is vibrant and quirky, filled with fun, animated characters and textures. You can check out a small sample below or more in his portfolio.
NEWS!!! - Mr. Bear
"Poland has a very diverse and rich culture. I quite like the folklore of my country. Very often in my work, I use traditional shapes and colors. Sometimes, however, I join the modern elements with traditional to form contrast.
"You can see it in my work with animals; especially with birds. Roosters and hens full of color appear in my paintings very often. Poland has a lot of great artists who inspire me. The Polish school of illustration is especially important to me!"
Misza Obrońca Uli
Konrad is a graphic designer based in Warsaw. His design work has a modern and often clean, simple flair to it, ranging from logotypes to print and branding projects. You can check out a small selection below or see more in his portfolio.
"I think that these influences can be divided into two types. First one is character and mentality. So I think that hard work and determination are values that I got from the environment in which I grew up. Another thing is sentimentality which is revealed in my works by motifs and references to nature.
Typo on Soho
"The second sphere of infuence is an iconographic part. To be honest I think that my work is more influenced by Spain or Japan, but when I analyzed that I noticed few things.
"Primarily a worship to the tradition of Polish graphic sign designs. It was impactful because I remember even from childhood a lot of signs and logos of the old masters.
东西茶事 / Any Tea
"Recently I've experimented with more painterly graphic forms, which can be a very, very gentle influence of the Polish poster school. The last thing can be a passion for patterns, but I think its more of a Slavic thing than a typical Polish."
Many thanks to the artists above who took time to chat about their country, culture, and the way it influenced their work or themselves. You can check out more of their work in the links below: