Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Maciek Blaźniak, I am 36 years old, and I live in Lodz (Poland) where my wife and I have been running a graphic design studio called Ładne Halo for ten years. In the beginning, we were simultaneously active as a niche publishing house specialising in books for children. Today I illustrate and design books only for other publishers. Apart from illustrations and picture books, I am interested in games design and new technologies. I design websites, applications and visual identities.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I started studying photography at an art college but quickly switched to design with an art book specialisation. My adventure with illustration and books began during my studies. But photography has remained important to me, which I think can be seen by looking at my illustrations (the ones I create for myself) in which photographic frames of urban landscapes and nature dominate. I like to have my camera with me on walks.
How did you find your style?
It seems to me that the adventure with drawing almost always starts with peeping and imitating your favourite illustrators or artists. There is no point in doing this 1:1, but it is from these exercises, trials and searches that an individual language emerges over time. In my case, the starting points were geometry, minimalism and colour, and the details were shaped over time and continue to shape because my style—although it has its own recognisable DNA—continues to update. It is also good to draw inspiration from very different fields—not only from illustration. For example, I am quite strongly inspired by photography, games and architecture.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I run my own business, so I like the fact that I am my own boss and can organise my work as I want. I am glad that most of the customers who come to me know and appreciate my work and know what they can expect. I enjoy the variety of commissions that come to me, because apart from illustrating, I am also a graphic designer. The orders from publishers for children’s books are intertwined with other client work, e.g., the visual identities for festivals or exhibitions, packaging for the local craft brewery or the design of mobile app interfaces.
Are your sketches always done digitally, or do you sometimes do these by hand?
Yes, if you do not count the stage of maturation of the idea in your head, I start the sketches directly on the computer.
You have some lovely work on your Etsy store. How do you decide which prints make it to your Etsy store?
It is simple, I have chosen for publication those that are stylistically compatible ;)
What do you think makes a good illustrator?
I value illustrators who are not slaves to a single style or palette that has been successful at some point, and some customers always expect this from them. A good illustrator develops and searches. This is my subjective definition.
How many hours a day do you spend drawing?
Because I work at home during the day, I juggle different activities, but since I have a son, the day is clearly divided into a part for work and a part for family after kindergarten. I usually spend about six hours a day working in front of a computer. The rest of the working time is spent collecting inspirations and for organisational matters and meetings. In the evenings, I often sit down to my private projects. I always have one on the side, and it is often the case that the more work I do, the more ideas I get for non-commercial things to create a balance. It’s an important vent of creativity for me, because in commercial work you can’t always work exactly as you’d like.
We love your street view art. Can you tell us what first attracted you to it?
I have never travelled as much as I would like, and since the pandemic, this pleasure has been completely cut off from all of us. In March and April, when we had our first lockdown in Poland, I started exploring street view in search of cool frames to draw. It became my way of reacting to the stress of the global situation, the need to reconcile work with a child at home, and so on. When I’m in other countries I always walk and photograph a lot, travelling is always a big inspiration for me and I think my street view art is a way to replace it.
Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, and why?
“It’s not that serious”—said Pascal Campion in one of his comic strips. I have this quote on my wallpaper and it saves me every time I get frustrated, when something goes wrong or cooperation doesn’t go my way.