25 Sep Aga Kubish – Interview with the artist.
“I need art to live like air to breathe”
I am both an artist and illustrator, specializing in old engraving style and vector drawings. I work with traditional nibs and ink, pens and the iPadPRO.
I love working with lines, textures and ink, the forms and outlines are not so important to me. I love hatching and dotting and looking for new ways to fill the space on my paper. I generally work in black and white, but I recently started using gold acrylic paints and green watercolours and ink.
When my youngest son was born, learning to create art digitally on my iPad was a great discovery, as it was difficult to draw on paper with nibs and ink with small children around. The iPad gives me versatility of brush style and size, I feel the results are both digital and handmade.
The most important thing for me is the process of creation, I enjoy the time spent drawing and painting, the result is not so important. I feel sad when I finish a piece of work, because the creation is over and I have to start from an empty sheet of paper again!
I’m very interested in botanical drawings, animal portraits, drawings of cities, sea monsters, fantasy scenes and landscapes and I enjoy mixing them all together. I love interlaced lines with complex organic shapes and textures. I’m working on a new colouring book based on botany and sea monsters, as I love them too. I’m drawing octopuses and jellyfish, as I am fascinated by their look and movement.
I get bored easily, I’m always looking for new areas, techniques and exciting subjects. I’m constantly discovering. I have a passion for houseplants, tattoos and photography. I have always loved plants, the first thing I do when I move into a house is buy lots of plants. Cheese plants are structurally fascinating, they are so big, as the new leaves unfurl they reveal their individual unique forms to me over the course of a few days. I like to combine animal shapes with botanical textures. I’m going to start creating city scapes with botanical textures against brick or wood, in an old engraving style.
I’m a freelance illustrator, I’ve illustrated books and several colouring books. I have two projects in progress at the moment, one for a picture book about golf, another for a science book about aromatherapy, for which I am producing seven scientific drawings illustrating the associations between smells and the brain. I also make illustrations for web design, label design and patterns for textiles and wallpaper for customers from around the world.
I was born in 1979 in Poland. My very first childhood memory was crayon painting on my socks and walls. My parents were not happy with these acts of creation. I don’t come from an artistic home. I loved drawing and painting but I was not supported in my desire to become an artist so I didn’t get the choice to go to art school, it was my Father’s dream for me to study engineering. My name is Agnieszka Kubiszewska-Krawczyk but English people find it impossible to pronounce!
I studied environmental engineering at the University of Technology in Warsaw, Poland.
Learning technical skills and drawing and graphical geometry, I didn’t go on to work in that profession. I found the training useful in my art work, but I do feel held back by my lack of an art degree; I wish I had spent those five years of study learning artistic techniques that would improve my art instead. My lack of artistic education has given me an enormous complex around being taken seriously as an artist. I am self-taught, but I am very much inspired by the techniques of other artists.
I started to learn clay sculpture in 2012, at the suggestion of my husband. It was an amazing experience but I found it challenging. I had always avoided drawing a human body, especially hands or heads and faces. Sculpting changed that for me. I realised I have absolutely no problems with working in clay in three-dimensions, in fact I’ve discovered I love making heads and hands in clay, and the sensory experience of it is fantastic. I’ve also made ceramic pieces with organics textures.
I had a break in creating and art for a few years, but my mind and body missed it very much as I really need to create daily. It was a difficult time for me which reached it’s peak in 2014, which was an extremely dramatic year in my life. I was pregnant with my second child, but the pregnancy had many problems and we lost our son in the seventh month. I was in a bad condition emotionally and physically, but it was a turning point. I started drawing again, I drew all the emotions down. It took a while to live again. Our daughter was born in December 2015. We were sent home from hospital on Christmas Eve. Her name is Natasha, which means ‘born on Christmas Day’ and ‘birthday’.
In 2015 I published the first of my colouring books: ‘Posters for Coloring’. It was the start of my professional life as an illustrator. I worked with colouring books for the following two years. In 2018 I was honoured in the ‘Inspired by Japan VIII’ competition for one of my vector drawings. Our son Timothy was born that year and we moved to the UK as well. In 2019 I took part in Parallax Art Fair in London.
I am excited by woodcut and engravings, particularly the work of Albrecht Durer and his masterful creation of shadows with hatching. I like Katsushika Hokusai as well, for his compositions, the atmosphere of his artworks and the simple palette of colours he used.
I have to mention art nouveau style as well – It is very graphical. I particularly love Alphonse Mucha and admire his combination of realistically portrayed women with floral graphic lines.
I have many English inspirations: Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses, William Morris’ patterns and wallpapers, the vintage and Old English style objects I discover in charity shops., but my favourite inspirations are the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien and Harry Potter!
I’m a mother of three: 12, 4 and 2 years of age. I try to mix motherhood with art work and creation, it’s a great challenge! Two of my three kids have started school and the youngest will start pre-school soon. I’m waiting for that as I will no longer have to fight for the pencils, pens and paper! My husband supports me with my artwork and is a wonderful father for our kids. We like to go on trips around the area, exploring Somerset and a little further – Dorset, Devon, Wales and Cornwall.
We had been thinking about moving to England for a few years, but there was always something in the way. Thanks to the approaching Brexit, we made a quick and final decision to move with the whole family. It was not easy, being a family of five, but nearly two years ago we moved to Nailsea in North Somerset.
I have always liked England and the British style of life, it suits us. Somerset is a very beautiful place to live, with amazing heritage, the beauty of nature, people, mown grass, cider and Cheddar cheese. It still fascinates us.
I was greatly honoured to become one of the core artists at the Heart of the Tribe Gallery in Glastonbury. It is the first gallery to represent me, exhibit and sell my artwork, I sold two of my original artworks on opening day, it was amazing. As I’m self-taught, it’s proof of being a professional artist for me. My lack of an artistic education means I need to constantly prove and remind myself that I am actually an artist. It’s ridiculous, I know.
I miss learning and studying, when all my kids are attending school I hope to study more. I’m going to do some short courses, there’s one in Oxford on botanical drawing and I want to learn more engraving techniques. I’m attracted to drypoint etching which is more detailed than linocut, so I plan to do Shelley Dyer-Gibbons Drypoint Etching Workshop in the Heart of the Tribe space. I would like to come back to clay sculpture as well, it gives me a lot of relaxation and satisfaction. I need to get my driving license so I can get out and take photos and get inspiration. I would also like to publish my colouring books in the UK.
I’m taking part in the October Instagram challenge #inktober. There’s a different theme each day and I’ve already started working on it. The theme for the 10th of October is ‘hope’, which I’ve chosen to symbolize with a mask. I hate masks, they disturb me, I feel I can’t breathe, but, I wear a mask and I hope this crazy time will end soon. I like to speak through my pictures.
Aga was interviewed by Vicki Steward of Normal For Glastonbury