SPOTLIGHT: Zuzanna Andrysewicz
As a teenager, I studied acting for 6 years. While researching my much-loved Russian literature for interesting monologues, I fell in love with novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky explores human psychology, and as for an actor, his work was perfect for role preparation. I didn’t know then that this exploration of psychology and character drive the way I approach print design and illustration.
When I started studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, I instinctively knew that Print would be pathway of my choice. Freedom of expression and immediate transition between hand and paper were qualities I was drawn to. There was just one small problem. I had never been taught how to draw. In order to move forward, I started to draw couple hours a day, every day. I quickly realized that instead of being interested in drawing the common print motifs of flowers or objects, I was particularly drawn to portraiture. I spent most of my degree researching old archives, photographs and exhibitions showcasing human’s stories and characters. I started to study people and psychologically analyse them just like I would analyse literature for role preparation. The only difference was that the outcome now was expressed on paper.
I then realised that main focus of my work would always remain in emotions, especially difficult and hidden ones. As a print designer, I needed to explore more design possibilities like repeat pattern making, but I still wasn’t interested in traditional approach. I decided instead to take apart my portraits, and use selected elements, like the patterns of garments people in my portraits were wearing, to achieve a repeated print. Even these repeated patterns must remain expressive.
Initially I was confused whether I was a print designer or artist because of the uncontrolled nature of my work. I started to wonder how I could translate my illustrations into print design. I looked up vintage prints of Finnish company Marimekko. Their bold and big conversational prints with loose and free print placement inspired me to produce my longest screen-printed sample using stencils and 9 different screens. Though at the end of this process I still returned to screen-printing portraits. Through this experience, I found my print designer approach: visual representation of characters/portraits mixed with patterns designed in a storytelling way. I developed deeper into the possibilities of emotional portraits with a visual exploration of my personal dreams and nightmares in my graduate print project: ‘Still Life Nightmares’. My dream journal offered an unfolding self portrait that inspired paintings and related 3D models. The 3D elements combined to create a ‘dream set.’ In this project, patterns mixed with portraits and figurative drawings. High contrast materials such as matte neoprene and hyper shiny glitter and foil expressed the vividness of my dreams. As the portrait expanded into a dream landscape, textile design gave way to set design. The influences of my practices came together.
I realized that the way I approach print design is not necessarily the same way as commercial textile industry does. In fast fashion, most of the print can feel homogeneous with the digital editing of Photoshop and Illustrator. It sometimes feels like there is not much difference between graphic designers and print designers. I started to wonder where would I see myself in that reality. Mainly through Instagram I found freelance illustrators like Donald Robertson or Alina Zamanova who illustrate with hand drawn qualities, which are then mass printed, on the clothes and other commercial items. I realized that this approach could be suitable for me as it allows maintaining the originality and emotional integrity of artwork but translating this to product; letting my work evolve in the personal and unique ways that are most fitting to me.
I stay open minded about future possibilities of my creative practice like set design. After graduation, I assisted with set design for Vogue Italia and CR Fashion Book. Looking up set designers who are also illustrators like Gary Card gave me confidence to think about myself as multidisciplinary artist and designer. Freelance print and illustration is something I want to definitely explore next.