Illustrator. Award-winner. Making the world more interesting.
Lucasz Dziadkiewicz is a man of many creative talents, comfortable with brushes, a camera or guitar in hand. He also recently won the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s prize for creative writing with an illustrated story.
You are an illustrator – tell us a bit about your work:
I am an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, animator, musician and writer. But of all the creative things I do in I still think of myself as an illustrator first. Graphic design pays the bills at the moment. I like it but I don’t love it.
What got you interested in drawing and illustration?
As far back as I can remember I have loved drawing. I think most little kids draw, mucking around with crayons and butcher’s paper. From there I just kept drawing. I’ve always be drawn to (pun intended!) illustrations and line drawings in particular.
I always loved comic strips. I still remember getting my first Footrot Flats book and taking it to show and tell! It was not interesting. I would corner people to show them Peanuts strips and read them out while pointing at the pictures. That was definitely good fun for everyone involved. I would copy Snoopy and Snake Tales, trace them and make my own. Then as I grew up I graduated into drawing X-wings and Ninja Turtles.
Last year you won the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award for an illustrated story – can you tell us about that?
A friend of mine told me about the competition about a month before the closing date. The competition has five different categories including short story, poetry and graphic short. I had a fairly new idea bouncing around my head and thought it could work as a short comic. I’m not good at thinking of short stories – usually an idea keeps growing into some impossible epic narrative.
So I felt lucky that I had something to begin with. But it was just a vague concept at that point. It came from a loose idea of Beethoven and a story of Sibelius retreating to the woods to compose a symphony. That location of the cabin on the edge of the woods near a small town in the mountains of Europe was quite appealing to me and that’s where the story started and I knew what my opening panel would be.
Once I had worked out the story, thumb-nailed it and designed the characters I had about three weeks left to draw it all. I was determined to get it done and hand it in. I didn’t know if I’d make the deadline and the stress was not fun. But I handed it in with about 40 minutes to spare. It’s a bit rough around some of the edges, so to speak, but I was just happy to get something finished to be honest.
They say you should write about what you know. So it’s a story about a being a grumpy old man dealing with an annoying customer.
Read ‘The Composer‘.
Do you have a favourite ‘drawing’ or interesting story behind a drawing you can share?
I was visiting relatives in Poland a few years ago. We were heading out to the back veranda for lunch and on the wall was a framed illustration, a portrait of a young woman. I asked about it and they told me it was my father’s aunt Ola. Ciocia, (that’s Polish for Aunty – pronounced chotcha) Ola was there and after lunch I asked if I could do a sketch of her. She felt that she didn’t look good and that she was too old (she was 92), but she sat still for me while did a quick 20 min sketch. I think I captured her pretty well. I like the light I got in her eyes. I kept the original for myself and sent a copy back to my relatives once I was back in Australia. Ola passed away a few months later. I hope it gave her some joy. I like to think of the two portraits of her sitting next to each other. I don’t usually draw portraits and asking if I could do that is definitely something I would normally hesitate in doing. Especially as I then had to draw it in front of about 10 other people and share the result on the spot! But am really glad I asked and that I got to do that.
Also, one time I drew a picture of a frog. And it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I really nailed that drawing of that frog. S’probably the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of doing what I intended. That’s an old favourite.
What do you find is the biggest challenge when it comes to creativity/drawing/illustration?
For me definitely the biggest challenge is productivity. Getting productive and staying productive. Deadlines help. Like the one I had the Creative Writing Awards. Inspiration isn’t a problem. I get inspired all the time from all sorts of different sources. But inspiration does not get the work done. And getting inspired can be a bit of a trap because it comes from looking at other art or reading about artists or musicians or watching a good show or even from going for a walk. All those things are great and even important, but then you still have to do the actual work. Pencil on paper! Fingers on keys!
My other challenge is confidence and showing something off once it’s finished. Sharing it with other people. It’s very easy to say “Oh that’s not quite finished”, or “That’s not good enough” and then just stick it in a drawer. Which is silly because when I look at other people’s work I just think whether or not it speaks to me. I don’t think that they shouldn’t have shared that. Most of the time someone somewhere will get something out of your sharing. You can’t predict who or what so just do it! Part of my biggest challenge is getting over myself as my harshest judge.
Are there any particular artists that inspire you?
Many, many. Too many to list. I get inspired by illustrators, painters, musicians, writers, podcasters, actors, and comedians. Famous and little known alike. In different genres and from all different time periods. From Beethoven to Radiohead. From to Hergé to this guy I know.
What sort of work or themes is/are your focus this year?
I am working on a graphic novel which is a labour of love. It is about Antarctic explorers a hundred years ago. It’s a massive project and is taking some time. I thought all the white would make it an easier subject to make a comic about. I was wrong. I will be concentrating on that this year.
If there is one person you could sit down and talk with about what you do, who would that be and why?
Um…maybe a publisher?
There’s probably a bunch of successful creative people in different fields I’d like to sit down with but I have no idea what I’d do then. I have been in that situation where I should have a hundred questions for them but then I actually have nothing to say that wouldn’t just leave me sounding like fanboy. I just get awkward and say nothing.
What single biggest thing you would like people to learn, know or understand about what you do, or about art and creativity in general?
I think that sometimes art (and creativity in general) is considered as an indulgence or an unnecessary luxury, or a silly hobby. Like it’s a waste of time or money. Well it’s definitely an indulgence a lot of the time for the creator. But that’s not a bad thing. Without it we would be living in grey box houses, dressed in sack-cloth or something, without the music, movies or books that we love.
I think the biggest thing is that it’s important for mental health whether you are creating or consuming. It really does heal and make the world a more interesting place.
In five words, how does illustrating/drawing/painting make you feel?
Happy, frustrated, happy, frustrated, etc.
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