Strap in and trip out, we’ve previously brought you the work of Grzegorz Domaradzi and now we bring you his thoughts…and more work. Interesting and insightful, ‘Gabz’ discusses art education with an enjoyable realism. Check it out.
Introduce yourself, where are you from?
I am 33 year old illustrator and a graphic designer, living and working in the city of Poznan, Poland. I specialize in realistic pencil, pen drawings or vector based illustration digitally enhanced in Photoshop and/or Illustrator. I also use markers, watercolor and even acrylic and oil paint if needed when I design posters, snowboard graphics or CD packaging. I enjoy custom made typography, eye-catching and intriguing imagery with a huge focus on art, pop-culture, cinema and graphic design in general.
What got you into art, why did you choose to focus on graphic design and illustration?
I was always very fond of drawing, picking pencils and crayons over toys, sports and other stuff that youngsters usually enjoy doing. So one might say I was strongly drawn towards art since the very beginning, but than again, the real focus on art started around high school: At first I was very much into comic books and graphic novels, at the same time I was discovering old masters like Albrecht Durer, Max Klinger, Leonardo da Vinci etc. Those and others made me decide to study art in the first place. During studies (at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland), I was improving my skills on all levels and focused mainly on drawing either pencil and charcoal, and on printing art ( etching, drypoint, lithography and so on). But I also did painting and sculpture. I was heavily influenced by artists like Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Chaim Soutine and Lucian Freud to name the few. I still admire those and many modern artists and wish one day to get back to just drawing and painting, but at this point I work mainly as an illustrator and a graphic designer occasionally. I think these can definitely be considered an art form… the biggest difference is, that they need to be 100% readable and understandable to every possible viewer (at least should be), and I’m fine with that!
A lot of illustrators have been revamping classic pop culture icons, movie posters, why do you think there has been such a resurgence? What about old pop culture attracts you? What is your favorite old school movie?
It’s something hard to really define. Even if modern times do offer a lot of improvement, we always will be comparing our achievements to what worked or intrigued people in the past, I think. It’s a surprising mixture of nostalgia and sentiment too. It can clearly be noticed that some past time periods are more influential than others and it seems to change constantly. Like for example, now there seems to be a huge hype for 70’s and 80’s from what I see. People are rediscovering everything from design, movies to videoclips and even fashion. While 90’s are hardly represented anywhere, maybe except for action movie remakes, but that’s another story. I was born in 1979, so for me this whole trend is at least partially sentimental: past-decades-heroes from my childhood, naturally become icons of my adult life. Favorite old school movie? My all time favorite movie is Francis Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” done the year I was born. Pure work of genius, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as an”old school”… Huge fan of s-f classics like Blade Runner or Alien, but I also have a lot of sentiment for action-packed movies like Rambo. First Blood or Commando to name those most recognized… That doesn’t really seem that long ago when I was enjoying those for the first time:)
Why have you chosen the name of Gabz to represent yourself? How did you settle on that name?
The story behind my nickname is not at all exciting… You must have noticed my original Polish name is quite simply unpronounceable for foreigners… I’ve seen some hilarious comments concerning my name in the past not to mention how many times it got misspelled. When I was planning to turn freelance I knew I had to come up with something simpler, much shorter and basically easy to remember. Back in high school my brothers and friends called me “Gabba” – Quite honestly I don’t recall anymore how and when it came up, but it sure worked fine for me back than. Since I like the sound of German language ( I know it’s not all that common) I decided to shorten the “Gabba” nickname to Gabz, which I believe works perfect. To make the statement even stronger I named my siteIAmGabz.com, to point out that this nick name is official.
Why did your earlier work revolve around darker themes? Where were you personally when this was happening? What changed that made you decide to focus on a more optimistic tone?
During my studies apart from being influenced by artists mentioned earlier I was very much into philosophy and literature, by my idols such as Emil Cioran, Fiodor Dostojevski and Friedrich Nietzsche or Franz Kafka to name the few. This influence brought me to a point where my main interests in art where sin, anatomy, nudes, body aging and human imperfection. Those interests resulted in my diploma work titled “Botched Creature”. They included large scale drawings, pen sketches and giant framed triptychs. After the graduation my plans of becoming a well known and recognized artist have sadly hit the wall… Mainly because it was difficult to find a larger audience for my work, but also because I wanted to be independent and had to start earning money. For a few years I worked as an illustrator and a story board artist in various Polish advertisement agencies. Once I discovered a full time job in an open space office wasn’t much of a dream, I turned freelance. That was in 2005. Rough start at that time made me rethink what I was doing in the past and where I should be heading, to stay true to my believes and at the same time start producing something more appealing for broader audience… I decided to focus mainly on the drawing skills, artistic experience and, what I believe is good taste in general, but at the same time change the tone of my work to less depressing and more optimistic. I consider myself a pretty much fulfilled person, so the transgression just came naturally.
What did you learn at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan that you would not have learned otherwise? How do you think your time there contributed to your work?
Though I agree with all those who state that these days artistic education isn’t crucial to be successful in the industry, as it was in the past, I personally would never call it an obstacle. However Photoshop and all that other software, sure does make life easier, the basic knowledge about colors, shadow and light, composition types, key proportions and so on, cannot be something that can be “copy-pasted” or done by an filter effect, if you know what I mean. I also wouldn’t neglect a master and apprentice relationship, which to my best knowledge can happen only in school… if you are lucky. I was happy enough to meet that type of person during my studies and I cannot even name everything I have learnt thanks to this guy. Let’s just say my perception of art changed almost completely, and it was him, who convinced me to stick to realism (believe it or not, but I had a expressionistic episode finishing my first year of studies), improve my drawing skills and finally to always think with series when producing works and to add as much meaning and heart to each work as possible. After all I’ve just stated I hope the viewer will be able to judge what got left of it, what has evolved and finally what was lost along the way, but clearly I feel the basics mentioned previously, like what I learned about color and composition for example is something, that I do apply… even if unintentionally.
What are you working on currently? What do you hope to have finished by the end of the year?
I have been producing plenty of posters lately… either commercial or screen prints. I was contacted by few companies that made me rethink my plans, and who knows, I might be devoting myself to poster art mainly in the near future… but it’s not certain yet! I recently finished and I’m in the process of finalizing a poster art screen print for one of my favorite Coen brothers film of all time (it will include metallic and glow in the dark inks, so I’m quite excited), and another pencil based, digital art print done for a huge upcoming action movie – I’m afraid I’m not allowed to share any details just yet. These days I’m working on 3 separate five color art prints for large toy company from US – I find adding realism to their strongly comic style very challenging. I also will be designing a new cover for Popgolf magazine in few days, along with some info graphic illustrations. Both of these are also planned for October. I’m not all that sure what future brings… Like I said, I feel more poster work will be coming along, but I sure would like to produce something personal by the end of the year too. Cause it’s sure been a while.