From the land of unicorns and wind, comes an illustrator who's seen much and dreamt even more. Monika Jurczyk has been drawing since she was a child, a lover of adventure and an eternally curious creative.
With her bold, colourful and minimal style, Monika is the author of the many illustrations scattered around this piece, a distinctive body of work bursting with identity and beauty of craft.
For this Member Spotlight, we are getting to know a marvellous illustrator as she discusses her dreams, passions and many adventures lived, an incredibly talented creative with insatiable lust for anything inspirational.
Wondering how much to charge as a freelance illustrator? Take a look at our exclusive guide on illustration rates!
How did you get into the industry?
Through the school of trial and error. Like most creatives, I drew a lot as a child. At some point, I stopped. It took me some years and a good amount of traveling and (self)exploration to get back to it. My wanderlust made me live and work in countries like Spain, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, the US, or France. In the beginning, the camera was my main creative tool. But this changed in Vietnam. I started to draw again in Tokyo to keep my travel diary and make visual notes about the places I’d love to photograph. Ho Chi Minh City was on the other side of the scale. Too busy, too overwhelming. Too much to capture. So I put my Canon down and picked up a pencil to interpret the hectic flow of everyday life. And that was a proper “AHA!” moment. The thing that led to what I do now.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I’m currently based in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The land of unicorns (national animal) and wind. I had the pleasure of working with Adobe, Bravery Magazine, PBS, Radio Times, The Guardian, Vans.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Tough question. I'm a typical person with too many tabs open. Always curious, interested in something. Always up for a new adventure.
Can you explain your creative process?
After receiving a brief I ask questions to make sure I’m on the same page with the AD. Sometimes I do creative research and then create quick drafts. I usually sketch on paper to get the first ideas out. Once I find the concept that works best I take a photo and move to my iPad to play with colors and composition. I switch to desktop to put finishing touches or save the illustration as a print-ready file.
How would you describe your style?
Colorful, bold, geometric, minimal.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
My favorite contemporary illustrators are Owen Davey, Petra Eriksson, Lisk Feng, and Jade Purple Brown. I have great admiration for Miro’s sculptures, Modigliani’s portraits, and Picasso’s paintings. I’m also really inspired by Art Deco, Memphis Group, and Freddy Mamani style.
If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?
Perhaps LUSH. It’s a fun, conscious, cruelty-free brand. I’ve been a vegetarian for some years. It's a pleasure and pure awesomeness to work with like-minded people.
How has technology affected the way you work?
Getting an iPad was a game-changer for me. It speeded up my workflow and became a natural part of the process. To be honest I bought it to be able to draw anywhere I wanted to. Edinburgh is a very green city with many parks, hills, and meadows, but it’s not famous for good weather. Whenever the sun is out you feel like you have to be outside. The scarcity of sunlight, my love for traveling, and the freedom to move seemed to be very valid reasons to get it. And the side effect of that decision was that I can’t imagine working without it.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I have a naturally curious mind. I love to learn, explore and experiment. I always try to keep my eyes and mind open as inspiration may come in the least expected moment. Motivation comes from the simple fact that illustration is my passion. Alongside photography, cinema, images in general were/are the things that have always caught my attention.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
The whole self-employment gig. From putting together my portfolio, building the website on my own, dealing with tax returns, to pricing and licensing. The illustration is not only creating. There is also a lot of not-so-fun things happening behind the scenes. And that part was something that either freaked me out or bored me to death.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Traveling! Currently small trips and hikes. Walks and talks with friends, being in nature.
What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Don't be shy. Show your illustrations, designs wherever you can. And work on your style.
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
I’m not a fan of the idea that art is a hobby. Just because you support yourself from drawing/doing what you love doesn't mean that you shouldn't be treated as a professional or paid fairly.
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
If you are an illustrator or graphic designer websites worth knowing are:
- theaoi.com - Association of Illustrators - a lot of knowledge on pricing, licensing, negotiations, etc
- graphicartistsguild.org – Graphic Artist Guild – similar to AOI
- folioart.co.uk/illustration-agency-submissions/?ref=illustration.tools – helpful tips on how to submit your work to an illustration agency