Interview: Daria Solak

I am so excited to introduce one of the most unique and fun contemporary artists I have come across recently. Daria Solak is a young Polish illustrator, whose portfolio, collaborations, and fan base are beyond impressive, especially for someone only born in the nineties! There is so much to love about Daria’s quirky, colourful and smile-inducing artwork, but I particularly admire her ability to achieve that beautiful and rare balance between unaffected naivety and sophistication. 

Daria Solak_Snowy Mountains

Daria Solak_Lady and cat

Daria Solak_Bydgoszcz

Daria Solak_Heart glasses

With her innate need to create and a deep love for art, Daria has already developed her own distinctive artistic style and confidence as an artist. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this talented and passionate illustrator. Curious about so many aspects of Daria’s life and career as an artist, I asked her a few questions. Here is what she had to say…

Can you tell us about your background and pathway to becoming an illustrator and graphic designer?

I was born in Poland, a country with a very strong illustration/graphic design culture. My parents told me that I’ve been drawing ever since I learned how to hold a pencil in my hand. This need to create and this love for art was inside me from the day of birth.

I always knew that my career would be associated with the visual arts but I had a lot of different ideas – interior design, stage design, graphic design. I was already in the 2nd year of studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw when I became absolutely sure that the only thing I wanted was to be an illustrator. I then went to Bologna to study illustration and comics. Now, a year after graduation, I am working as a freelance illustrator and am having a lot of fun!

What materials do you use and what has inspired your style? 

While maybe you can’t see it at first, interesting art, especially illustration, references many different fields. It’s way easier to find inspiration if you can connect the theme you’re working on with culture, nature, history, fashion… This is why I watch a lot of movies, exhibitions, visit different countries. For example, I find the old herbariums of my grandpa one of the most inspirational things ever. To create my illustrations, I use typical materials, like paint, coloring pencils etc. Then I scan it and correct in Photoshop. The types of paper I work on are very important to me.

Who are your favourite artists or designers at the moment?

I have a lot of favourite artists but I have to say that I really admire the contemporary illustrators who inspire me every day, like Jon Klassen, Kate Pugsley, Maria Inez Gul (also from Poland), and Anna Katharina Jansen (we have created a project together titled “blame us for our music taste“). I also love Christoph Niemann, talking about illustration and creativity. As I said, I was born and raised in Poland where the culture of graphic design and illustration is strong and very unique. Artists from the 60’s and 70’s weren’t influenced by anything from the west because of communism and this is why these artworks are so good and atypical. I have been inspired by these since I was a small kid and this influence has stayed in my mind since. I recommend to everyone to check out the drawings of Janusz Stanny and Czech artist Slavomir Sasek – my idols.

What are you most proud of and what can we expect to see from you in the future?

I am like a mommy – proud of all my illustration children. But I can say that there is one project I really love and I will be able to show it to the world very soon. I met an amazing guy from Barcelona via Instagram. He makes great quality handmade chocolate and I created a series of illustrations and handwritten sentences for the packaging. It’s all about chocolate and cosmic love, so stay tuned!

What advice do you have for emerging young artists?

I like to repeat a quote from my favorite, Simon de Pury, “Be bold, be brave and go for it!”

Just don’t be afraid to try different things. You are not gonna create a masterpiece every time you draw. So let yourself play with materials, themes, and techniques to know what works for you and what doesn’t.

Any final words of wisdom for creative parents who love art and want to make it a fun part of life for their kids?

Art gives you so many possibilities to spend very valuable time with your kids. You can develop creativity, talk about many different things and learn something at the same time. It’s important to do different activities, not very long ones, and to do them together. You can create a book together, draw auto-portraits, design characters and make your own theatre etc.

When you combine fun with real knowledge (by showing pieces of art, visiting museums), art starts to be a part of life, not only something boring and incomprehensible. I remember that I was drawing my own versions of paintings I saw in art albums and it always melts my heart when I see kids drawing in the museums. I also run workshops for kids from time to time and I have to say that this is a very nice way to spend Saturday mornings. Kids create something, talk with each other and learn new things while the parents drink coffee 😉

Daria Solak_Herbatka

Daria Solak_Tortoise

To see more of Daria’s incredible portfolio or to contact her for prints or commissions, check out her website here. Daria is also on Instagram as @daria_solak_illustrations and Facebook as Daria Solak Illustrations.

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