“When I received an email from Book Club’s curator Liat Chen last year about doing this show, my initial gut feeling was: ‘oh no, a show!’” Slovakian illustrator Martina Paukova tells It’s Nice That. Her endearing concern about an exhibition of her work is understandable, anxious about “what I would show, what the concept would be, the logistics of it all as I live in Berlin now etc…”
Thankfully Martina’s concerns melted away as “eventually, the whole idea and its potential creeped upon me and I started plotting”. Working as a freelance illustrator for a healthy list of clients and publications, Martina wanted to show personal works, a difficult task as “usually there is simply no time left to have a play!” To cement a theme for the show the illustrator started by looking into her archive for possible exhibition pieces and had a realisation: “Almost 90 percent of my personal work revolves around female characters, with subtle male-female interactions being played out! So yeah, the selection got made and I created three more pieces just for the show and here they are, on the wall of the Book Club.”
Martina’s exhibition opened last week (8 February) and will be proudly evoking a female-focused mood across the Book Club’s walls until 8 April 2018. Each illustration displayed shows her wavy haired, lanky legged, characters embarking on different tasks referenced in their one word titles such as working, ruling, browsing or hugging. “Process-wise with some of them the idea just pops in, triggered by someone, something,” the illustrator explains. “For example, once I got asked how I would draw out what I do and the response in my head, I flatten everything around me and then create the composition out of it and this all resulted in the image in the show Ironing. Other times it all starts with an emotion or feeling, usually man-related heh, which I then try and turn into something funny.”
Girls is the illustrator’s first major London show which added extra weight to choosing and making work to be displayed. “Knowing that the show was coming up, the sheer pressure of having to create new images increased the sensitivity for potential ideas. I was on the hunt,” she explains. “Once that idea gets nailed down — which is the trickiest part — I usually sketch out the bodily position of the main character along with a rough position of the other elements.” However, It’s Nice That readers will know by now that Martina is well versed with this approach and has her process well and truly down. “The character gets vectorised in Illustrator, the most magic moment as once I have the characters in vectors the rest of the story just happens. Final touch is colour texture, the cherries on top, done!”
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.