“You can’t take yourself too seriously – it’ll lead to misery”: The whimsy and wonder of Martyna Makes

The practice of south London-based illustrator Martyna Wieliczko, known as Martyna Makes, is one that champions a multidisciplinary approach towards creativity.

6 October 2021

Muddying the sensibilities between design and artistry to form a unique creative practice of graphic illustration, Martyna Make’s satisfying and sentimental work is full to the brim with charm and character. “I have created since I could pick up a crayon,” Martyna tells us. “I spent a lot of my childhood creating drawings and cards for my friends and family as a symbol of appreciation,” she adds, ultimately leading to her going on to study graphic design at UCA Epsom. Since graduating, Martyna’s practice is one that is fundamentally collaborative; working across branding and artwork for music, as well as on personal projects as much as possible. “A lot of my work focuses on honing in on everyday objects or situations that would normally be overlooked,” Martyna explains, “and putting them at the forefront of my work,” translating this visual comfort into whimsical tableaus that convey warmth and fuzzy familiarity.

The charisma and earnestness that is felt through Martyna’s work are somewhat subliminal, but all the stronger for it, conveying an immutable intimacy and friendliness through the interest Martyna pays to how people work and what brings people together. “I’m really interested in the idea of nostalgia,” she explains, “the visual kind that sees trends come back around and how a lot of the time it is a sugar coating of the past,” she continues, noting the playfulness behind her pieces. 


Have Hope (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)

“I have started to think about ‘play’ a lot recently, you can’t take yourself too seriously in the creative sphere – it’ll lead to misery,” Martyna tells us, explaining the importance of always being playful, no matter your age. “I start off my projects by coming up with themes to create work around,” Martyna notes. “I doodle grids before filling those grids with semiotics relating to the themes I want to work with,” she adds, doing so in an almost detached way, reminiscent of zoning out on your phone or “mindlessly doodling” on whatever paper comes to hand. “I then take the good parts of that and develop this into something more unified and coherent,” she describes, resulting in wonderful and often weird scenes that tell a unique story.

“Looking back on it I have come to realise a lot of my personal projects are inspired by my childhood in Poland,” Martyna recalls, again noting the significance of nostalgia in her practice and in her own story. “There I would spend a lot of my time watching eastern European Cartoons, playing outdoors and creating drawings for friends and family,” she explains. When at university, these sentiments and sensibilities were then creatively challenged, tasking Martyna to experiment and – importantly – play with them.  


Pasta Still Life (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)

Deliberately avoiding a pinpoint definition of her practice, Martyna tells us how she tries her best to not be restrictive in the development of any style or concept. “This is something that took a lot of unlearning to achieve and I know I still struggle with it from time to time,” she tells us. “Your style and what you create should come naturally, and this will evolve with time.” Currently voicing a charming interest in the everyday, Martyna “turns the mundane, sometimes miserable every day into visual bold amusements and comforts,” adding, “if that doesn’t sound too pretentious.” 

These tendencies have recently manifested in a new range of cards Martyna is making, showcasing her intrigue in shared thoughts. “I find the idea of sharing words and sentiments with the people around you really heartwarming,” she notes, responding to the over-abundance of cards for specific occasions with a set “that could be used with no particular occasion in mind,” apt for any mood or moment. “Just because you might feel like giving someone a positive affirmation,” Martyna suggests, “or just a piece of paper to write down your private jokes into.”

Now fully freelance, Martyna’s got a busy schedule, currently working with kids clothes brand Be Diddy on a new toy. “I am really excited about taking my work to a new level (literally as it’ll be 3D!),” she tells us. “I’m also very excited and grateful to be focusing on my own projects,” Martyna concludes, “as well as working with some badass people and companies.”


Big Ass Big Attitude (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)


Wobble (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)


UFO (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)


Pearshaped (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)


Mood Cycle (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)

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On An Adventure Snacks (Copyright © Martyna Makes, 2021)

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About the Author

Harry Bennett

Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.

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