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„It’s pure poetry” | Daria Solak

Paper is her favorite medium, she likes to travel and is mainly inspired by female characters and animals. She pairs her favorite motifs with unique patterns and vivid colors. Currently she is living and working in London. We interviewed Polish illustrator Daria Solak.

Tell us about the beginning: what path has led you to working as a full-time illustrator?

I come from a country with a very strong graphic design culture. I always knew that I wanted to work on the field of art and the creative industry, but I didn’t have any definitive plans. I ended up in the graphic design department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and later on also studied in Bologna. I fell in love with the genre of illustration in the middle of my second year, and around the same time, I started working in an emerging design studio. As the tasks were divided between only two or three graphic designers, I also had various other responsibilities in addition to illustration, such as type design or designing visual identities. Since then, I have been working as a freelance illustrator in London, where I spend most of my days drawing.

You have a fairly diverse portfolio: your illustrations feature various characters, animals and objects, and you also create maps and landscape drawings of various kinds. What topics inspire you the most? 

It may not seem so at first glance, but the genre of illustration actually covers a wide range of various fields. It’s a lot easier to find inspiration if you can connect the theme you are working on with culture, nature, history or fashion, for example. This is why I watch a lot of movies, exhibitions and visit different countries. I prefer to draw female characters and animals: I think this might never change.

You use a wide range of playful and fun colors and your chosen media is mostly hand drawing or painting, perhaps combined with some digital work—your visual language could be really appealing and attractive to children, too. How does your creative process look like?

I always start from a tiny sketch—just to catch the composition and the general idea. I usually draw the certain elements separately and then combine them digitally—I only rarely challenge myself to draw everything in one piece. This method allows me to check whether the imagined concept works or not, or whether I need to modify some parts. As illustrators, we must learn that sometimes the ideas that seemed great in our heads do not work in reality or we’re not able to put them on paper to match the image in our imagination. Over the years, I learnt which art supplies work best for me and I stick to them most of the time: this is sort of a personal thing and every artist needs to find his own.

Even though I tried digital drawing many times, paper remains my go-to medium: you can’t replicate how paint or crayon reacts with paper—it’s pure poetry!

Your illustrations already appeared in different magazines and children’s books, and you have also worked for the Polish Kukukid and Psyjaciele design brands. Which do you consider your most important project so far and why?

I never focus on a project for too long: I give them all my energy while I am creating and then in the next moment I already think about what to do next. I have this hunger for more and more and don’t analyze what I’ve already done—that is why I can’t highlight any of my collaborations. That said, there are still some projects that I am very proud of: I debuted as a book illustrator at the age of 25, and my first book was nominated for the Warsaw Literature Award. Several of my illustrators were featured in Anthropologie‘s stores, which makes me super happy, too. But I like to think that the most important projects of my career are still ahead of me.

What are your plans for the future and what are you working on at the moment?

Perhaps I can reveal that similarly to the year before, I am creating several illustrations for Puzzlefolk this year again. I am also working on a few textile patterns, an illustration for a children’s book and some custom family portraits—the beauty of this profession is that you never know what is waiting for you next month.

If you are a fan of illustrations, make sure you check out Daria Solak’s website, where you can also grab the creations of the artist in the form of prints and postcards.

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