(He/Him) • Warsaw, Poland
Kotynski is an award-winning Polish illustrator who lives and works in Warsaw. He began his career in video games, film, and advertising, as an art director. His strongly conceptual, signature style of illustration relies upon a whimsical, fantasy-driven world of characters and their exploits. Kotynski is fascinated by the Polish Poster School and American conceptual illustrations which are the primary influences in his work. His work can be seen internationally in advertising campaigns, magazines, newspapers, and on posters.Read more
Newsweek, The Guardian, Men's Health, Mother Jones, The Real Deal, Robb Report, L'Express, Car and Driver, Ferrero, Garnier, Peugeot, Wealth Managment, Electronic ArtsRead more
- Communication Arts Design Annual 62
- Applied Arts 2021 Design Annual
- American Illustration 39
- American Illustration 38
- 3×3 International Illustration Annual No.18
- 3×3 International Illustration Annual No.17
- 3×3 International Illustration Annual No.16
An interview with
Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
Since the late 90s, I’ve been involved with the Demoscene Society: people using computers to create art. Demoscene has been the foundation for how I work today. I admired many illustrators in the movement. They were creating surreal illustrations, pixel by pixel, with a click of the mouse.
Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
I can’t remember my first drawing but I remember one that represented a big leap for me. My classmate taught me how to draw a cylinder in perspective. I drew a knight wearing a cylindrical helmet. The classmate eventually became a successful painter.
Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I almost became a programmer. It was hard decision at one point, but I followed my heart. I was concerned left-brain thinking would make me a robot. I needed something to balance my analytical side with my need to express how I perceive the world.
Did you study art in school?
No. I studied computer science. I have master’s degree in computer programming.
Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
I think my impulse to create art comes from all I’ve experienced since I was young. I don’t really wait for impulse. I just do my job on daily basis. I don’t believe in magical or
spiritual inspiration. You have to work and stay healthy. There are few important experiences in my life which constantly feed my creativity. I also look around, question, and analyze every aspect of life.
How would you describe the process of creating art?
In terms of conceptual illustration, an idea is most important. I start with fuzzy ideas but I never give up on an idea even if it seems wrong from the start. I work to pull the essence out; to see if that idea could work. Some ideas do, others don’t. At times, I can connect two or three ideas into a single metaphor, after tossing ideas around a bit.
I usually start with gathering as much information as I can. If it’s editorial illustration, I try to contact the article’s author or send an email asking for context.
I jot down key words then start a very rough sketch with pen on paper. I’m searching for a good metaphor. I tend to erase as many unnecessary elements, as possible. When I have a clear vision on paper, I play with different compositions. I choose one that works best then switch to a digital mode and create clean line art.
Some elements might require reference material, in which case, I browse the internet or take a few photos. When the line art is ready, I add flat color, texture, and shading. I choose colors for their desired emotional impact.
Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
I love so many illustrators’ works. The list is endless. A few names that stand out are: Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, Bernie Fuchs, Eyvind Earle, Sergio Toppi, Jean Giraud, Brad Holland, Bernie Wrightson, Carter Goodrich, Gerard DuBois, Yuko Shimizu, Edel Rodriguez, Tomer Hanuka, James Jean, Edward Kinsella, Sterling Hundley, Alberto Mielgo and Andrew Hem. I also have great respect for the Polish Poster School and illustrators like Waldemar Swierzy or Roslaw Szaybo. I won’t mention fellow illustrators here, because I would forget someone, for sure. My colleagues inspire me every day.
If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I like sports and music and appreciate good writing. It would probably be something having to do with one of these. Or, maybe I’d grow vegetables; something simple.
Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
My uncle worked in a crayon factory. I remember being given long and short crayons and I also recall the smell of fresh wood.
Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
I create artwork almost entirely in my studio. Sometimes, I sketch at home when my family is asleep.
If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I believe, especially when it comes to illustration, pictures should speak for themselves.
Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
We’re stepping into a pictogram era. People tend to scroll to get information and they want it as quickly as possible. Communicating through illustration is faster than through text. That’s why I think, in the future, there’s going to be a growing need for illustration.
Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
I think art makes people think. It can also bring up feelings. Art can make us feel more content each day just like good architecture or interior design can.
Illustrating the future
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