About the artist

Our artist interview this week is with Marta Żukiel. Marta lives in Poznań, Poland. She works remotely as a graphic and web designer and also in the field of fine arts, making digital collages.

Martha uses several styles in her work, her favourite being strong narrative detail, heavy in texture and with rich organic, dynamic lines. She has completed two academic qualifications: Philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and Graphic Design at the University of the Arts, also in Poznań. Aside from art, her biggest obsessions are nature, writing and dogs. She is currently enjoying creating games in Unity 3D as a hobby.

Why did you choose digital art as your medium?

When comparing photos of real things, I have the impression that I am inventing not so much an image, but a brief moment in time, and that fits the ideas I want to convey. With the vast number of photos I scan through, this process wouldn’t be possible without the help of a computer.

What artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?

Diversity is what I love in the arts; if I had to decide on one, I’d choose Surrealism.

Tell us about the process you use to make your art.

I would say my process resembles creating a painting. From a technical point of view, I search hundreds, if not thousands of photos. First I look for images matching my original vision, choosing a background that best suits the atmosphere. I experiment with transparency and blending options to find the right for the layer, then I mix, swap and cut out the relevant elements.

I have to remember my final vision very clearly so I don’t lose the essence of the idea. Sometimes I just want to paint a similar picture, which would be much easier but I find it expresses a different vision than an image created with photos.

I will often paint over areas of the final printed image. This is mostly using acrylic retouching paints and inks, and I am always careful not to change the original impression of the collage.

What inspires you?

Among the things I find most inspiring are my dreams, feelings, perceptions and memories. I often try to convey the feeling of ‘expanded consciousness’, or, in contrast, the emptiness resulting from the lack of that sense. Ideas can be found in poetry and philosophy, or just at the end of an ordinary day, walking with your dog in beautiful surroundings; I called it a mystical experience, but many people narrowed this term to religion. Now I’m expressing my ideas through collages, I think my viewers recognise what I want to share with them.

What is your artistic motivation?

I can think about few different things that motivate me; perhaps my approach to time is my most interesting motivation. Once I was in the Rijksmuseum and, together with my art school colleagues, we viewed Rembrandt’s paintings. My friend – an incredibly talented guy, who was finishing the same course that I’d just started – seemed to be miserable, so disappointed. He said, looking at The Night Watch: “I could paint the similar artwork, too, and so what? I’ll never do it. No one would ever give me even the fraction of that time.” His statement really stuck in my memory, and in that moment his sadness infected me.

But today I think, why not? Sometimes it takes me months to create a collage. I do this deliberately; making time to create is a fantastic contradiction in a world with constant rush and no room for contemplation and allowing one’s own way. I feel great about it, that’s why I do it.

Which three words would you use to describe your work?

Three words: Dancing with uncertainty.

Name three artists who inspire you.

I would choose Marc Chagall, Domaradzcy and Ventzislav Piriankov. Ok, I’m cheating a little, Domaradzcy is two artists, Gabz and Krzysztof. Largely thanks to them I think about graphic design in the way I do. Moreover, the mere fact that these talented guys believed in me, gave me wings through my tough moments; I owe them a lot.

Ventzislav Piriankov (warning: some mature content) is a painter, thanks to whom I became fascinated with Byzantine legacy in art and got to know the traditional painting workshop. There’s no doubt he had a huge impact on me, especially on thinking about stain and colour. I apply this painting technique to my collages.

And finally, in Marc Chagall I see an artistic soulmate.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?

Please, Marta, be more organised!

What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?

A PC computer and Wacom Intuos 4 tablet.

Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?

Two versions of Photoshop: CS4 and CS6. I thought I’d use only the last one. Unfortunately, the newer editions are missing important features that I rely on, so I use the older version more often.

Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?

Unsplash is absolutely my favourite, because of its great quality photos.

And finally, do you find that people dismiss digital art as a valid art form?

Digital art suffers today what every art medium experienced in the past, when it was still a brand new technique. Yes, some people only trust the artists who have oil paint on their hands.

All mediums have changed, not only digital, and traditional techniques are mixed together more often than not, also the oil paint is something different from 150 years ago; artists don’t make their own paint, they just stock up in the art store. The quality of paint can no longer be guaranteed, so might not last as long as it used to.

The digital medium is different. Print houses and printing ink producers seem focused on the archival aspect; artists, as well as their consumers, always ask about it because the model of art printing is relatively new. The above is only one aspect among many that make digital art trustworthy. In the last few years I see more and more people recognise digital art as a completely valid form of fine art.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and artwork with us, Marta!

You can find links to more of Marta’s work in her entry in our Artist Directory.