Art has a habit of chasing you down, as artist Ewelina Skowronksa well knows. After studying science and working in advertising for years, she finally gave in to her love of art-making and came to London to study at Camberwell, where she discovered her beloved medium of screen printing.
A printmaker, illustrator and a fan of the new Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers, we wanted to find out more about her work and her process, but also hear firsthand the brave story of following your heart to make it as an artist.
Your prints and illustrations are colourful, graphic and seem to centre on the process of making – but what themes would you say inspire your work?
It's interesting, because you need to explore this when you write artist statements, but really all I can say is that my work is always life-related. It draws on my experiences and the thoughts that I have, things you think about certain subjects. It's usually about relationships between people, who we are, what we want, what's important to us, the boundaries we have, what allows us to move forward. I would say existential things but that sounds so pretentious! Sometimes I think too much.
Your practice features print making, illustration and watercolour – but what are your favourite materials to work with?
My friend and I run watercolour workshops but I wouldn't say I'm great at using it! Printmaking and illustration makes up my main practice.
I start with illustration, where I can say something in a more straightforward way. Screen printing for me is a mixture of what I like the most. It has this physical aspect of creating, but also by using inks you can really play with textures, shapes, colors, you can scan stuff in, print those...there's a big variety of processes you can use. I want to push the boundaries of it to see what I can do.
What is it you love so much about screen printing?
It's a lot of things. A combination of the physical process, working hard to print, but also the unexpected things that happen. You can control it but there are always mistakes, and personally I really like that. I've never been a perfectionist and I never will be. The more I screen print, the more I discover what's possible. With drawing you get a ready result, but with printing I can work layer by layer, and there's always a chance to change and add to it.
I also hear you love the new Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers. What do you think is so special about these pens?
Yes I really like them! They work like inks; you can almost paint with them becausae they blend together. Using the Winsor & Newton Pigment Marker Paper they blend and act like watercolours, and you can create painting effects with the blenders. The colourless blender is transparent and lets you mix the colours, and the white blender is cool. It looks great on black paper but also lets you add white details to the colours.
What top tips would you give someone using them for the first time?
First, experiment. Mix them together, and don't be afraid to use your hands. Explore their interesting effects, like you would with watercolour pencils.
And secondly, don't worry about the blender pens getting dirty. I was really worried at first that I was darkening the tips, but they're really easy to clean. Just keep wiping them on the paper and they're perfect to use again.
Your experience as a copywriter often shows, with the layers of words in your prints. Where do these words come from?
They're usually found and re-used by me! Recently I've been using fragments from the Bible, about how there's a season in life for everything, how we're never happy. We're always aiming for something, and then when we get it, we're aiming for something else. I'm not religious but I felt like these fragments were universal. There's a time in life to be happy and sad. For death and life and crying and keeping silent...
You graduated with Distinction in MA Illustration at Camberwell. What advice would you give art students wanting to make it as professional artists and illustrators?
Try to find who you are and be yourself. It's so easy to get stuck in trends and do what you think people want to see, but you should just believe in yourself. And experiment. Try different things and see what works for you. Be crazy! And it sounds cheesy, but work hrad. I believe in staying true to yourself. It took me 15 years to finally be honest with myself and say I want to do it. I had a good job, good money, but I wasn't doing exactly what I wanted to do. Better to realise it now than when you're 50 and feel like you've wasted your time.
So you didn't study art before Camberwell?
No, I did Politics Science in Poland. The art exams were very classical, all life drawing and painting, and I didn't get in. Plus I felt some pressure to do a more practical course, so I passed the Politics Science exams, and took a 5 year course. But art kept coming back to me, all the time. Once I've started something though, I want to finish it. So I did science, went to work, and then decided to go for it and studied art at Camberwell when I was 33.
And what inspires you to keep on making art?
I write a lot. Put things on paper, reflections. And I look at stuff. For me, the world around me and the people around me - it's a huge source of inspiration.
Finally, what are you working on at the moment – any events or exhibitions?
A few things. I'm exhibiting in a group show arranged by UAL, "We All Draw". It's on from 5th-8th November at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH. My work has also been selected for this winter edition of The London Illustration Art Fair, also in the Oxo Tower, from 4th-6th December.
Also next week I'll be starting a new body of work - I've not printed anything since I graduated, so I'm excited about this. It's about love, and is it enough for us to have love, is it only what we need.
See Ewelina's work in We All Draw at UAL, and find out more about the exhibition here.
You can view more of Ewelina's prints and illustrations on her website.