In Enikő Katalin Eged’s works, the dynamics between the intimate atmosphere and nature are portrayed in the form of abstract, illustrative narratives. We talked with the Hungarian illustrator, who also works as a pattern designer and applied graphic designer, about her work and inspiration. Interview!
Originally, you did not study to be a graphic designer. How did your path lead you to the world of illustration?
After my high school years, I completed a Hungarian BA degree at Eötvös Loránd University, specializing in philosophy. It took me quite some time before I had the confidence to even start the admission process to the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. Looking back, it seems strange now, but it was a big step then and there that I managed to gather enough inner resources and motivation to apply.
You don’t just create intuitively, the recurring motifs and locations in your illustrations have an underlying meaning.
The intuitive creative process in my work is more about playing with the abstract visual language, the association of colors and shapes. The sense of personality and coziness along my motifs and themes is one of the most important aspects for me. I like to create atmospheres that I can feel myself drawn to, be it a street scene from Japan or an afternoon still life. In my Bodega Cat series, for example, there is a special significance when I enter a place, a bakery, or a shop, and see a cat inside. Then I immediately have a different attitude to the situation, I feel that very nice people must work or live there if they share their space with a cat.
The horse motif is also a recurring element in my work. I’ve had a horse since I was a child, and I’m constantly wondering how and by what illustrative means the horse’s movements, body and dynamics can be abstracted. I’m pretty sure I’ve made horses most of my life, especially since I must have drawn at least one or two a day as a child. So I have a history with horses, I can create them either with my eyes closed or with my left hand, but it’s exciting to draw horses in any way. I like to experiment with them and find new approaches. Overall, my work expresses emotions and different dynamics through animal figurative illustrations.
One of the unique things about your work is that you don’t like to pigeonhole yourself into a single style, but there is one element that holds it together visually: color. Why orange and blue?
I think I’ve had a certain color palette for more than two years now, and I update it with a new neon or contrast color every now and then. I have thought for a long time about whether I need a defined graphic expression if I want to be an illustrator, and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t. I really like to create comics and detailed lo-fi-style images, which is a meditative process in itself. The other thing that gives me great joy is the abstract illustrative visuality, which is an instant impression of how I feel. For me, drawing is primarily a flow of processing my emotions. The more my head is full, or the more emotionally affected I am, the more I feel I want to turn off the narrative in my head, and just draw and not think about anything else. The colors are a bit subordinate to all this. Intuitively, I have my favorites: orange and its contrasting color, blue. These shades are essential to me, and many of my graphics are linked by the consistent use of contrasting colors. In the case of my project Azzurro Velluto, I have included azure blue, a shade of the sea, into the name of the site.
On your Instagram page Azzurro Veluto, sapphic art is prominently featured. Is the work you share here the result of a self-therapy process, or is it also about sensitization?
When I started the Imaginary Memories comic series back then, I wanted to work on a breakup, so yes, it had a self-therapeutic quality. And then in the meantime, it evolved into a more general series in which I express the love and intimacy between women through my own visual means. However, there are also several motifs that can be related to social responsibility, although this is not the purpose of my Azzurro Veluto site. I don’t want to subordinate what I do to any external expectations or trends. One of these prominent motives is that lesbians are underrepresented, and another is that love between women is highly sexualized due to the harmful influence of porn culture. I want to counteract this effect with my own comic book design, where I draw completely ordinary love scenes.
Do you have a work or even a series that is particularly important to you?
Series of illustrations are crucial to me because if I like a theme or a motif, it’s very hard to imagine fitting everything I want to convey into one illustration—and a series gives me much more freedom. My Bodega Cat illustrations are probably some of my favorites because, as I said before, it means a lot to me when I walk into a place and see that there are cats living there. So the cat-human relationship and how the presence of a cat shapes a space, are all interesting themes from an illustrative point of view.
You have worked with several brands. Your designs have appeared on garments for fashion brands Bebi Loungewear and Daige, but in one of your latest collaborations, your illustration adorns the packaging of Greek olive oil Honest Toil. How is a project like this different from your autonomous work?
All of the collaborations were great, and perhaps one of the most exciting parts is how we bring together what is my world, but also the visual coherence of the brand. I almost always get a free hand and I’m not sure I’d want to do a very different collaboration.
I recently noticed another Instagram page linked to you, under the name Figu Design Studio. What can you tell us about it?
Rita Bencze and Zsófi Györfi have been my friends even before our university years, so we worked together a lot during our studies. Teamwork is very important to all three of us, it’s as if we’re continuing each other’s ideas. So it was obvious for us to start a graphic design studio together after graduation. Our first joint project was the identity of the Kabin picnic spot on Népsziget in Budapest, which has since been followed by many others: our favorites include the Kolorádó Festival in 2020 and 2021 and the recently opened Sárqány bar under the Pingrumba restaurant.
You work as a pattern designer, illustrator, and applied graphic designer. Is there any field or medium you would like to try your hand at in the near future?
I have lots and lots of plans! I definitely want to do ceramics this year, and I’ve already started talking to several brands about different collaborations. I’d also like to start my own project as a pattern designer, but that’s still very much in the dream stage at the moment. I am very interested in baby and children’s clothes and home textiles, but I would also love to paint.
Enikő’s work will be on display in a digital exhibition in Berlin and at Northbridge Piazza Screen in the near future. In the meantime, check out Enikő’s illustrations online at GoodMood or at Printa, VALAMI Hazai, ISBN books+gallery, and Retrock Budapest in Budapest. Various prints are also available at Kiblind Atelier in Paris, Buchhandlung Löwenherz in Vienna, and Keller Kreuzberg in Berlin.
Portrait: Fanni Sutus