Olka Osadzińska : “I’m highly influenced by pop culture”

The dream has a name

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Olka Osadzińska is a young artist, art director and curator from Poland. She has worked on various national and international art projects. Her artistic experience spans across art, fashion and lifestyle as well as online through a collaboration with the influential magazines and websites for which she draws illustrations. 

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Interview : 

Who are you Olka ?

(Laughs) Who am I. I ask myself this question a lot. But I guess the most common answer I give is: I am an illustrator. Sometimes I add art director, on other occasions curator and creative director – but always, illustrator in the first place.

What is the path that led you to the illustration ?

I was always interested in art, but never thought I could actually do anything myself. There was a huge hype over Agata Nowicka Endo paint-brush illustrations in Poland in 2003, and it kind of opened the door for everyone to at least try to draw something – everyone had a paint-brush on the computer, right? The first drawings were pretty bad, but it was loads of fun for me, and now I can say I am a walking proof that practice is one of the most important things in illustration, or in life in general. I do this for 12 years now, from which 8 is in a professional way.

How would you explain your artistic universe and your relationship to the colors ?

It’s pop. Both in style and approach. Strong colors, rich compositions. It should look effortless and light, machine made while it’s all crafted. I pay attention to details in an obsessive-compulsive way. All my drawings are highly refined. Sometimes I suspect there are probably photoshop filters or illustrator tools that can do all this in no time while I spend hours and days drawing each little spot of color and hair line, but this builds my illustrations.

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You did a great job on sneakers; what represents sneakers in your universe ?

I’ve always loved sneakers. They’re a wearable symbol of pop culture. Andy Warhol wore Reeboks, every classic ’80s and ’90s film has its sneaker moment, it’s hard to imagine the street-art or the hip-hop scenes without them. And this is where I come from visually, as someone growing up in a golden era of the most inspiring advertising for pop-culture brands.

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You recently worked on imaginary collaborations between sneakers Lego X marks or artists like Jeff Koons. Do you think it will be possible one day ?

Of course. In a way it’s already happening. Koons did a collaboration with H&M, brands invite artists and cooperate with other brands on projects and products. I actually love it, for many reasons. It makes the brands more attractive but it also makes the product unique – 25 years from now the collaboration pieces will be the most remembered ones.

Your artistic references ?

There are few, but it definitely starts with fashion and fashion photography. I love the idea that fashion uses art as inspiration and I use fashion as inspiration for creating art, which makes it all a cycle of ideas. I collect vintage photos, botanical plates, retro illustrations, old book covers, vintage advertising, but also fashion and streetstyle photography which is crucial to my illustration work. I’m highly influenced by pop culture and pop art philosophy. I like the idea that everything looks pretty, simple and easy, while it’s a result of a long hours of work.

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When you take an illustration, you begin with what (listening to music that you like, or smoke a good cigarette …) ?

What is important to me is time and research. I like to build my own world for every particular project. It always needs to be rooted in certain emotion and vibe, it can start with a certain image in my head and the research follows that, or I start with research and the picture grows in me while I gather the information. And I’m obsessed with music. It plays a very important role in my creative process, it helps to build the right flow.

I usually „know” in which direction I’d like to go, but I need to look through my archives for inspiration and guidance. I’m not the experimenting type, I don’t like to invent new things, I’m happy when I can transform them, possess them, make them mine through illustration. If I don’t have enough time for research and thinking things through I feel I might have missed something important.

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Does your universe, your touch and your colors have been slow to be accepted in design and fashion world ?

You know that the definition of slow is very subjective. I did a lot of different projects and was fortunate enough to have cool clients and partners from the very beginning of my work, but it’s still nothing compared to what other illustrators achieved and to the very idea of possibilities out there. It’s all a process and it’s extremely important to enjoy it and like it – the process – not the outcomes and not the final result. And as for the world – it’s always built with individuals, so I can’t really say that I was accepted by the design and fashion world, but I have a few or a few dozen people, at this point in my life, that appreciate and like what I do. Which of course makes it even more pleasurable.

The projects you are currently working and future projects?

I’m working on a few projects now, and another bunch is waiting for some approvals. This week I’ll be working on two mural designs – for the first time in my life. It’s pretty exciting!

Any projects in Paris (France) ?

I wish! Hopefully this interview will promote me enough (laughs). I’m afraid my style might be a bit too intense (or outrageous) for Paris chis taste.

Your dream ?

I used to dream about projects and collaborations, now I just wish I could be able to work, learn and grow in my creative work and in life. It all takes a lot of time, energy and resources, so it’s not always an easy thing to balance – so keep your fingers crossed.

Why are you so cool ?

Am I?! That’s so nice of you to say. I never really considered myself “cool”. I’m more of a boring type – I wear monochrome, love museums, read FT Weekend and New York Review of Books, and I basically do my own thing. I have a plenty of cool friends doing exciting stuff and having a super bold visual style, and I usually feel pretty dull next to them. So, again, thank you for a great compliment.

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