Kaja Szechowsko is a Polish illustrator and jewellery designer who was inspired by her range of necklaces to create a surreal double page for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring Siamese twins. She tells us about the woodland of Lodz, aleatory concepts that have inspired a book she is making, and the idea of travelling through life as a hitch-hiker.
Why did you decide to study sculpture and how has that informed the way that you design and create art today?
I attended a preparatory course for drawing at my university, and I was rather thinking about choosing graphic arts later. One day I lost a doll that I had pinned to my bag. It was a plush miniature of me that I had sewn and I called it my Voodoo Doll. I was upset and when I went in to my course the next day, I told my friend about the loss. And to my surprise he said: “Really? I saw it sitting on a pedestal in the hall. I thought you had an exhibition.” And there I found her, and so I found my place. I feel that the biggest thing I learned while studing sculpture was a way of thinking, of analysing my work, and making myself question it as if I was somebody else. All the rest is some kind of sensibilty that remains the same, regardless of medium.
Where do you go for an injection of inspiration in the city of Lodz?
It’s difficult to say now, it’s somehow the city of my past, and everything reminds me about something that I don’t need anymore. As for today my favourite place is the forest on the outskirts, near my parents hause. It’s neutral enough and meaningless to feel comfortable.
You run a jewellery brand called OMG! Jewels – how did you learn how to make jewellery, what features in your current range and how are the pieces made?
My jewels are just miniature sculptures. I didn’t take any special courses. It all started with a necklace portrait of my flatmate’s dog that I made for her birthday. It turned out so cool that I decided to make some more. The first collection is made up of necklaces featuring different kinds of creatures such as unicorns, holy sheep, slugs, meat-eating plants and animal skulls. Some of them are a little creepy, others are just lovely, however all of them are at least a little kitsch. I can reveal that the new collection will be even more freaky and will use an illustration medium.
Who or what inspired your colouring page artwork?
One of the necklaces I have made for OMG! Jewels features my favourite Siamese doll, who is also the protagonist of my colouring pages.
You’ve moved around a lot in the past few years – what has taken you across Europe and what have you done to keep your creativity alive on the go?
Generally, I have terrible feelings that I’ll suffocate if I stay in one place too long. Usually there is some small indication that I follow. Once I found a little Eiffel Tower below my feet. Another time, I read about a place in one of Roberto Bolaño‘s books. And so on. It seems like a childish play, or maybe it’s just a selective subconscience, but I find it magical. I try to work in the conditions in which I find myself; it’s a little hard and I’d like to improve that point of the story. I was working in an artistic recidency and I have had some other temporary studios, but I feel now I need another quality of working calmness.
What is your preferred process to create an illustration?
I work mainly with traditional techniques using paints and crayons. I like this process, I find it relieving. I use the computer only to put things together. Generally I wouldn’t really mind a life without a computer. I feel it destroys all the magic, both in life and art.
Who is your new illustrated book Bad Herbs aimed at and what kind of ideas will it feature?
It’s definitely aimed at adults. It’s based on an aleatory concept that I invented. The drawings are only a pretext. It’s more or less about randomness and choice. But I cannot reveal more, because then, there won’t be a surprise anymore :).
Where are you based now and what are your plans for the future?
Currently I’m not based anywhere at all. I’m just passing my mental SPA holidays in my parents hause, stroking my beloved cat Alisek and planning the brightest ever future. I’ve just left Barcelona with a deep conviction that I’ll never go back again, although I left all my stuff there. It’s irrational, but typical for me. I have a lot of plans for the future! When I finish the book it will surely satisfy my illustration hunger, and I’d like to go back to creating my mechanical toys, which I have abandoned for some time. And then travel, travel and look for the new adventures, and somewhere in the middle build a place where I can rest and work in peace.
What was the most inspiring part of your travels?
It was surely the aspect of the unknown and the whole range of possibilities open to me, the uncertainty about what will happen and the complete certainty that something (whatever) will happen. I love the idea of life as a kind of hitchhicking experience. Another thing is that I like a change of scenery (or at least a scenography), at that point when I’m catching myself looking, but no longer seeing. When I getting used to something, it’s like the first sign I am getting languid.
Where else do you look for inspiration?
In the dreams. I’m really good at remembering my dreams. Currently I’m trying to learn some techniques of lucid dreaming, to have still more fun. However as for now, the result has been completely the opposite and I just fall asleep immediately or don’t remember anything at all.
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