Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Artist and Illustrator Donata Zawadzka

Paul Andruss who is a wonderful contributor to the blog introduced me to an extremely talented artist and illustrator Donata Zawadzka.  Here is an illustration from Paul’s book Thomas the Rhymer.

Donata very kindly allowed me to use one of her illustrations for a short story destined for the new Tales from the Garden due out later this year and to give you an idea of her amazing talent.. here is the link.

First I asked Donata to tell us a little bit about herself.

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

I will pass you over to Donata now to answer my questions .. but don’t forget that she would love to answer yours as well. Please put them in the comments section of the post.

What style of art attracts you the most and why? Who is your favourite artist?

I would say I’m hungry for art. Period! I love creativity in in all its forms and diversity. It’s a proof of how amazing we human beings are! In all the animal kingdom only humans are able to speak, tell tales and create art or grasp abstract concepts! All kinds of our activities are done for pleasure and often sparked by a spontaneous need to be childlike and playful. For we have a deep rooted desire to escape all rigidness of logic and reason. In my view that is why art exists. It is the expression of the soul and brings us closer to the angels.

I would say everybody is an artist, but obviously craftsmanship needs years of practice to develop fully. My painting teacher said to us when we started our first classes: ‘Artist is made of 1% of talent and 99% of hard work!’ and I sincerely believe it’s true.

So for my creado I choose to quote Mary Lou Cook: ‘Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.’

During my school years I was fascinated by dadaism and then its child surrealism, and obviously big names like Duchamp, Dali, Magritte, come to mind, among many others.

The surrealistic world of dreamscapes and fantastic beasts challenge our perception of what we know as everyday reality. It’s use of concepts and symbols, or even well known objects, offers a chance to step back from our comfort zone into totally unknown and abstract worlds. It’s a journey inwards, to the human’s subconscious, or the superconscious mind…

Is there an artistic talent that if you had the time you would like to train for?

If I had a chance to study full time now I’d like to go for a fine art course and to get to know all kinds of traditional print making processes of line engraving, aquatint, drypoint, etching, mezzotint, monotype, lithography. Those are mostly black and white techniques, where colour was rarely used. This was my most beloved subject in the art school, which is why nowadays I love to create my pen and ink, black and white illustrations.

Another subject which fascinates me is sculpture. If I had the chance I’d also like to study it, but I’m afraid one lifetime would not suffice to do that !

It would be lovely to pursue what you love and if I could I’d be a full time student my whole life, which is quite funny because as a child I hated going to school!

What would you tell your 16 year old self that might benefit them?

I think what I’d say my 16 years old self is not so different from things I try to keep in mind at all times, which are:

  • stop being so serious about everything ….. and laugh often
  • world isn’t revolving around you
  • go with the flow as life will surprise you anyway
  • most important thing in life is an amount of LOVE you put into everything you do!

Love we give to the the world is a love we will receive, even smallest insignificant kindness you do can be a whole world to the other person.

Here is another illustration by Donata for a children’s book by Paul Burns.

At what age did you discover you love for art and design? And your original diploma in Poland was in Interior Design.. Do you offer that as a service as well as illustrations?

My adventure with art started very early in life. My mother was an art school graduate and my father was a self taught draftsman with a love for fantasy and science fiction. I have lovely early memories of them taking turns to draw with me, and for me. Naturally it became my favourite way of spending time as a child, and it continues to be to this day. It is a wonderful escape into a magic world of form and colour.

The true joy of being an artist is no matter how old you get, the adventure never ends, in fact new discoveries and the process of constant artistic change is what helps you develop as a person.

I have a diploma in Interior Design from Poland. In England I obtained a diploma in children’s book illustrating. But I don’t think it will be the last course I ever take . I love to learn new skills and techniques and I am always striving to expand my artistic range. Because of this I have recently begun to train myself in Digital Graphics as they offer so many new opportunities.

In my work I constantly gravitate between painting colourful abstracts and fantasy themes, and black and white ink and pencil line drawings, where I can create a mood simply with shape and texture. Line drawing is a very restful medium for me to do.

I like to keep up my Interior Design Skills and I have had some successful commissions. For a while my husband and I had an Interior Design business. But as you know, all new businesses take time to become established. Unfortunately we were not in the financial position to wait for new commissions without earning money. And of course full time jobs get in the way of accepting new commissions. But I am always open to new clients for either Interior Design work or Illustration!

You studied children’s book illustrations at London Art College. Why did you choose this particular course? And what are your long term goals with your work?

The Children’s Book Illustration Course at London Art College was a great experience and gave me a deeper understanding of the psychology behind why children are attracted to art and how they perceive it. It is not generally known but we learn to see and appreciate art with experience. . I picked the subject to study as I liked drawing cartoons and often get lost in my art just like a child. I felt it opened a whole new dimension for me by helping think outside my training as an interior designer and embrace freer more instinctive styles.

What may look like effortless and spontaneous ‘doodling’ in lots of cases is the result of a great amount of sketching, design and conceptualization. It may seem easy creating funny pictures for children but after looking a little further into subject I found that it’s a complex and subtle way of communicating on many levels, and it can have a great impact on a child’s subconscious. Therefore it’s an artist’s responsibility to choose wisely from the language of symbols while creating the illustration for youngsters. I fondly treasure my childhood’s books. There are pictures I still remember in great details, while the stories they illustrated have faded from memory.

Ideally would be to work for some publishing house as a full time artist, but this is a very competitive industry. The chances of this are slim for everyone. You not only need talent and an impressive portfolio, but as an unknown, there is also a lot of luck involved in having your submission noticed at all .

Lot’s of artists collaborate with writers independently, and then look for a publisher together. I found this nice way to work suits my temperament. Self-publishing is also a good option. The ever growing demand for ebooks is giving all artists and writers a chance to promote their work to a worldwide audience. I have finished two projects with independent writer in this way and it was a lot of fun to see our work on a tablet screen!

You are now settled in England but do you get homesick and what do you miss in particular?

I was seduced by England from the very start, after I came here in 2005. Multicultural London was a totally new world to discover, but what I loved the most was the English countryside, with its mossy oaks and stark rocky beaches, the gentle seasons and the multitude of wildlife inhabiting seashore, forest and field. If the concept of reincarnation is true I’d say I lived here before! For my love of the English countryside is drawn from deep in my soul by the gentle beauty of the natural land all around where I live in Kent, the rolling wheatfields, the hop and apple orchards and the glossy mud flats of the deep and moody Thames as it stretches it’s way to the sea. I feel so at home here!

From the moment I arrived I felt so welcomed by the English people who I found to be open minded and friendly, accepting and so welcoming of everyone no matter who they are or where they come from. It really is like being part of one great big family.

But I miss my country too. I think that is part of being Polish. Because of my country’s many political upheaval over the past centuries, right up to modern times under the Soviets, many of Poland’s greatest writers and artists lived in exile, outside of their land of birth. Homesickness and the longing for a place to call your own is a major part of our great Polish artistic legacy. Poets always reminisce with yearning for Poland’s natural beauty and I am no exception.

Despite having many ancient and prestigious cities such as Gdansk, and Krakow, 29% of Poland’s acreage is woods and forests. We have the highlands of the Tatra mountains and the golden beaches of the Baltic Sea. I spent most of my childhood in a great wild park behind our house so the deep dark woods so beloved of fairy stories is what I miss the most of all, apart from my loving family of course!

©all images Donata Zawadzka

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website :
Buy her work on Redbubble:
Like Dona on Facebook:
Follow her on Twitter:

My thanks to Donata for providing such wonderful answers to my questions and I am sure that it has given you plenty of prompts for your own questions.. Please put them in the comments section and Donata will come back to you over the next couple of days.


42 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Artist and Illustrator Donata Zawadzka

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Artist and Illustrator Donata Zawadzka | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

    • Hello Annette! Thank you for a those interesting questions! I try to answer them best I can!
      I think relationship between the creator and their work are very mysterious and not easy to explain! I’m sure writers, musician and all artists would agree in this matter! The images definitively have minds on their own! I must say, I’m often surprised by the final effect and it’s not always what I’ve envisaged it to be, but I guess that’s the beauty of the creating process – the element of surprise!

      I like to think my works are like fruits in the garden, they have their own time of ripening: it sometimes take years to finish certain ideas… I’m putting things ‘into the drawer’ and tend to go back to them, time to time and just look and feel: Am I ready yet to develop them further? Am I free yet from a charm they have on me to not afraid to ‘spoil’ them ? It’s usually then I see mistakes, and errors I wants to remedy and my work on the old sketch or painting begin… There is a other side of the work as well, being an artist on commission requires meeting tight deadlines. Then more meticulous approach is needed and there is no time for a fuss! I’ve learned to work that way too…
      I definitively can feel, when the work is competed, usually when there is nothing more I can do to improve it and nothing to change further! It’s a definitely a feeling, so they are speaking to me in my heart!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Mary! Thank you for a very nice comment! I’m sure images you painting in words are as much intriguing and revealing a world on it’s own! Painting a magnificent scenes in the reader’s mind it’s a incredible gift writers have!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your artwork Donata, your attention to detail in particular. I always envy people that are talented artists as I cannot draw.
    Is there anything that you wished you could do, but aren’t very good at? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for another excellent interview, Sally ♥

    Donata, you are a warm loving person and it is my pleasure to meet you. My maternal grandmother was Polish. I grew up loving her cooking, especially her homemade pierogies. Your artwork is stunning. Your illustration for Tales of the Garden would nicely fit Beatrix Potter’s books, which still remain my favorite children’s books. You write well, so I wonder if you have considered writing as well as illustrating your own children’s books, perhaps a series two (or ten!)? ♥

    Liked by 1 person

      • Welcome, Sally. And apologies for the mistitle. I remember how exciting it was working with an illustrator. Your words come to life in a new way. Thrilling! Love and hugs ♥

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tina! Thank you so much for a warm welcoming ! I can feel you are a kind spirit yourself, thank you for a friendship on Facebook ! Ah, the grandmothers and their magical cooking skills, pierogi (dumplings with various fillings) are still my favourite dish 🙂 Glad to hear you have some Polish roots!
      To be honest, my interview’s answers were proofread by well known here friend and writer Paul Andruss, whom I’ve asked for help as English is not my first language. It’s totally his merit that the text is so well written! I felt very nervous before the interview as I knew so many great writers here on Sally’s blog would read it and I didn’t wont to spoil it! Paul is such a wonderful friend and writer, I’m so glad he’s been recognised here as such as well !

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Round Up – Bruce Springsteen, The Borgias, Illustrations and New Review series | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Artist and Illustrator Donata Zawadzka — Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life | The Ethos Deal

I would be delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s