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Regulars / The Graduates 2018

Aga Giecko’s illustrations show the personality of someone who loves a good laugh

Fun, playful and downright comical, we’ve gone bananas for Aga Giecko’s illustrations.

Originally from Lublin, Poland, it was at Camberwell College of Arts where Aga developed her bold and sketchy, sharpie style. Each of her illustrations are bright and joyful, but what we really love about the illustrator is her ability to create mischievous and whimsical characters. Like Aga’s degree show piece where she went through the whole of art history, and replaced key figures with bananas.

In her bright and joyful illustrations, Aga brings to life the inanimate by giving cheeky grins to buildings, disgruntled frowns to plants and tears to kitchen utensils. With this approach the illustrator is hilarious in her drawing style, overcoming her barrier with the English language and filling each piece with puns and giggles. In each object’s new illustrated life Aga’s created a chaotic but equally idyllic narrative, and we want in.

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It’s Nice That: Why did you decide to study illustration?

Aga Giecko: I never thought I would be where I am now. When studying in my hometown, Lubin, I seriously considered becoming a lawyer. Why? Because of financial security. When applying for illustration courses abroad, I thought it was a risky decision. Little did I know that I would have a UAL degree a few, amazing years later.

I would always doodle, put illustrations in letters to make someone’s day. The smiles I got were really rewarding. I feel like I’ve always cared about the emotion that my art evokes; it is ‘my gift’ to everyone close to me.

Both my Mom and Grandma are very talented, but never got to pursue art as a way of living; finding an occupation in that field in Poland is not easy. Being the first generation in my family that can follow my dreams acts as an enormous motivation for me.

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INT: Can you describe a project you’re most proud of and why?

AG: I am most proud of my degree show; it sums up my development as a creative as I experimented with a variety of mediums. I wanted to learn as much as possible before leaving university and step outside of my comfort zone.

Allegedly, “50% of Human DNA is shared with bananas”; so I based my project on this fact, replacing humans with them. I wanted to find a way of depicting something more ‘human’ in a unique style, focusing on emotions rather than a realistic visual representation.

In the end, I created this easy-going, alternative universe in which humans are replaced by fruity individuals. For someone coming from a tree, they were much more down to earth than you would expect. Isn’t that just bananas?

INT: Is there a particular person who has shaped your university experience or creative outlook?

AG: I wouldn’t be writing this interview if it wasn’t for the guidance of my tutors. The Camberwell technicians who are often forgotten, are knowledgeable, patient and have a desire to teach.

Furthermore, I was lucky enough to spend time with some great creatives. Loose Knees Press, founded by two course-mates, changed my view on publishing and Doctor Gurlfriend introduced me to the world of comics.

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INT: What inspires your work?

AG: Art, music, cartoons, travels, folk art, a new pack of sharpie marker pens, conversations, books, dreams, the first page of a new sketchbook and once again, the people surrounding me. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s the everyday. I try to live by Picasso’s quote “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. You never know when something tiny could become the start of a new project.

I love giving emotions to objects that don’t have them, take the banana. You can find me drawing cups in the coffee shop all loved up, arguing, crying or dancing.

INT: Is humour important to your illustrations?

AG: Humour adds an additional layer. It is a way to communicate, like sound, aroma or colour — so as an international student it is significant for me. Humour can come across without words; it is universal.

I love a good laugh and don’t consider myself a serious person, my illustrations are a reflection of that. If I could have a superpower, it would be to make people happy. If my wonky banana bum makes someone smile, even for a split of a second, then I will take that as the ultimate compliment.

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INT: What was the best bit about your time at university? And the worst?

AG: The time I had at Camberwell was amazing, thanks to the course structure and how they encouraged everyone to work together. Starting with a foundation degree then moving on to a BA, I was able to work in two different studio environments under two incredible sets of tutors. They made me realise it was helpful to explore the subject before actually sitting down at a desk.

If I had to choose one workshop, I would pick ceramics. I started my clay adventure pretty late but fell in love instantly. You should always appreciate the fact that you will never meet so many creatives in one building again.

The worst bit would be communication. As an international student, it was a struggle switching to the English language. I didn’t plan to study abroad, so I never focused on learning it. Sometimes I still feel I’m not as funny as I would be in my native language. I really miss my word jokes. Puns you call them. Pun intended.

In the end, it all comes down to your hard work and confidence in your ideas. I used to be unable to produce work until I saw a deadline coming. It was a vicious cycle of stress until I forced myself to draw every day. The more I draw, the less I am worried about the final outcome and as a result, the better it usually is. Practice really does make perfect.

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INT: Why did you decide to apply to The Graduates?

AG: It was an excellent year for me; I took part in a few refreshing art fairs, met some inspiring people and even won £30 on a scratch card. So, I thought I would give The Graduates a go.

INT: If you could create your dream project, what would it be?

AG: I honestly can’t think of one particular thing. I’d love to collaborate with my favourite artists, not worry about the budget and make an impact, preferably directing my attention in a meaningful matter.

I want to publish a book, develop my ceramics, do an art residency in Asia and create my first mural. At the moment I am working on a mini ‘dream project’, creating a zine that will illustrate a music mix recorded by my partner.

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Supported by Polaroid

Polaroid Originals is the new brand from Polaroid, dedicated to original format Polaroid analog instant photography. Find out more about their new and vintage cameras, plus film and accessories, on polaroidoriginals.com

The It’s Nice That Graduates 2018 is supported by Lecture in Progress and Polaroid Originals.