Young and Creative: Aga Giecko

SOON met with Camberwell illustrator Aga Giecko to discuss her personal favourite works and her plans post graduation.


Introduce yourself and your work.
I’m Aga, I’m 23 and originally from Lublin, Poland. I’m currently based in London. I like to draw silly faces on objects and I am obsessed with dogs, grapefruits and History of Fine Art. I’m still in the process of finding my own ‘style’ so my work is currently very diverse. I always have a sharpie with me and most of my quick sketches are black and white, bold, line drawings. I love painting and playing with colours, patterns and print. Recently, I’ve been introduced to ceramics and I have absolutely fallen in love with it! It feels great to finally craft an actually ‘bum-shaped bum’ and just cheat on paper every now and then.

How long have you been creating for?
I’ve been doodling since forever but some decisions had to be made in high school. I went to a Comprehensive School of Fine Arts in my hometown yet somehow a plan to become a lawyer emerged. I guess considering grades and a financially steady future felt like a reasonable idea. Trying to make it as an artist still feels rather scary but also makes me feel so happy, so I had to give myself a chance and follow my dreams. It’s coming up to three years now since getting into UAL and moving to London. It’s the best decision I ever made.

Describe your work in 3 words.
‘Omg, so cute!’ is what I hear a lot, so that might be accurate.

Describe the way you work in 3 words.
Spontaneously, deadline-y and diligently.

What’s your favourite colour?
Black. I love the simplicity of a black, line drawing.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It depends. Sometimes I create something really quick in a matter of minutes and it’s complete in its simplicity, but there are times when I spend several days or weeks on a more detailed and laborious project.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I really like working in my Uni studio. It’s great to be surrounded by so many creative individuals from all over the world. I believe it’s one of the best qualities of an art school; meeting all these lovely people, being inspired and supported by them. I find it quite hard to work in silence, I really need something in the background. I’m not overly specific about the noise though, it might be a radio show, news, cartoons or documentaries playing in the background. Sharing my home with a big collection of records comes in handy too…

Who inspires what you do?
I am a huge Fine Art geek so research is a very important part of my practice. I get inspired by literally everything; exhibitions, other creatives, music, books, even everyday life. Just the other day I saw this ‘Dog Unit’ signage on a van and it’s already becoming a small project to be published, just in time for the year of a dog. On top of that, I do a lot of brainstorming with my partner, he’s a bedroom DJ. We often give each other advice and sometimes even collaborate.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever made?
I really like the idea of creating lo-fi zines. I do quite a lot of them, they’re like children to me so I guess I shouldn’t pick any favourites. The one illustrating the alleged fact about people sharing 50% of their DNA with bananas felt like a little breakthrough. I created a small universe in which the yellow, fruity individuals replaced humans in famous works of art. Come to think of it though, I’m always working on my next ‘favourite’ zine. Always.

Where would you like to be with your work in 10 years time?
I hope art will still give me great joy wherever I will be in 10 years time. I would love to still be doing creative things and expanding my practice. I would love to have published a ‘real’ book, or done an art residency in Asia. Overall though I just want people to be smiling and made to feel better when they look at what I do.

What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you just can’t live without…
New Sharpies always makes me feel excited. Also, sunny days and the smell of freshly cut grass.

To see more of Aga’s work, you can give her a follow on Instagram, or head over to her Website

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Young and Creative: Beth Harris

For the Young and Creative series, SOON met with illustrator Beth Harris, to discuss her future in children’s books and the process behind the way she works…

Introduce yourself and your work.
My name Is Beth Harris and I’m a 19 year old illustration student currently based in Bristol. I come from a town just outside of Oxford, so at the moment I’m thriving off being immersed in such a creative atmosphere! Although in terms of visual themes my work may vary, the mentality in what I want to say is always the same. I’m enjoying subjects that say something about the world as I have a lot of personal strong views. I find communicating my viewpoints to others, whether they choose to agree or disagree, really exciting, but doing this in a way that is playful and fun is really important to me- the more colour the better! I can feel myself evolving now in the way I work, as I’m still exploring and discovering new ways to visualise my ideas. It’s the best feeling ever finding a new way of working. It’s like you’ve opened your mind to so many more possibilities. It’s a really exciting time in my life!

How long have you been making art?
I’ve always been interested in all things visual and creative, but it wasn’t until my foundation year I really discovered what illustration was and how it’s all that I can imagine myself doing.

Describe your work in 3 words:
Colourful, intricate and evolving.

Describe the way you work in 3 words:
Exploratory, playful and positive.

What’s your favourite colour?
I could never pick just one, so perhaps a combination of pink, teal blue and pastel yellow!

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It entirely depends on the piece. Roughs, exploring and idea generation can often take a long time, but I find I have to churn out my ideas to visualise the colours and feel before it develops into something finished.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I’m someone who loves to get comfortable and cosy in a space, I’ll have all my materials around me so I can see what mood I’m in… basically I make a lot of mess.  Therefore, working at home at my desk or in the studios at uni often works best for me. At the moment there’s a corner desk at uni with big open windows with lots of greenery and natural light that I work well in. I think you’ve got to feel happy in a space to get your best ideas onto paper.

Who inspires what you do?
Francesca Sanna, Laura Carlin, Nina Cosford and Robert Frank Hunter’s books heavily influence my work and Eva Stalinksi really inspired me to get into screen printing! I’ve also recently discovered Mark Conlan, Yukai Du and Molly Egans who use pattern, colour and composition beautifully.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever made?
I think it has to be my children’s book ‘From my Roots’ I made last year reinforcing positive Afro imagery and challenging its under-representation. It was a very personal project, having experienced the stigma towards Afro-Caribbean hair myself. To create the project, I went to my Grandma’s hair salon in Birmingham and interviewed several customers, and so I felt the book was accurate and representational to the issue beyond my own opinion. It was interesting to see how many of my peers had no idea that this was an issue, which was my aim to raise awareness. Perhaps that or my first degree project on slavery. I threw myself in the deep end trying to represent something so horrific in a way that respected the truth but was not too visually dark/ traumatic, but I loved how that turned out.

Where would you like to be with your work in 10 years time?
I would love to have illustrated children’s books on social issues. It’s what I’ve been most passionate about creating in the past so I can see myself pursuing that. I think a lot of what you read and are surrounded by when you are young changes the way you view things as your grow up. A lot of my projects focus around race and feminism as these are things that I can personally relate to, however I would love to hopefully expand these themes to issues not experienced first hand in the hope to educate and inspire kids. However being in the first year of my degree I imagine these aspirations will develop and alternate, which is very exciting!

And finally what’s your favourite ‘Something Out of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
Any funk or soul music.

To see more from Beth, you can follow her over on instagram.

Young and Creative: Ewan Bodenham

As part of the ‘Young and Creative’ Series SOON interviewed Ewan Bodenham, a Science student from London, who spends his free time up-cycling second hand clothing with hand embroidered designs. 

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Introduce yourself and your work.
My name is Ewan Bodenham, I’m 20, a Natural Sciences student at UCL and my work consists of hand embroidered designs on clothes. My designs are often natural forms such as plants, but are sometimes more abstract designs. Doing a science degree is great, but I find it doesn’t often give me a chance to think for myself, so embroidery is really a means of being creative and expressing my ideas. It’s also a great way of justifying lazing around, because at least then I’m being productive in some way.

How long have you been making art?
Only since January 2017. I’d never tried doing embroidery before but asked for a few bits to give it a go for Christmas and have been doing it when I find the time to since then. I’ve not had any lessons or watched any videos on how to do it, I just give it a go and see what works and what doesn’t.

Describe your work in three words.
Hit and miss.

Describe the way you work in three words.
The way I work in 3 words… Think, sketch, stitch!

What’s your favourite colour?
Green.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It varies greatly- some pieces take a couple of weeks, others I can start and finish in an evening.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I do embroidery to relax so normally just in my bedroom, listening to music or talking to friends.

Who inspires you?
James Merry. I started embroidery because I wanted one of his pieces but couldn’t afford one, so I tried my hand at making a poor man’s version for myself. Since then I’ve gone on to try out a few of my own ideas, mainly using Instagram for inspiration.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
Probably the first piece I made- the fuchsia growing around the umbra logo. It let me try out a bunch of different techniques and I think it came out looking really nice.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I don’t see it ever being more than something I do for my own enjoyment, but I’d definitely like to see my work get more complex and neat with time.

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What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
I love being on a beach. The sound of waves, the feeling of sand and the smell of sea spray all make me really content and appreciative of our planet.


Young and Creative: Jasmine Jones

For Part II of the ‘Young and Creative’ series, SOON met Jasmine Jones, a painter from New Quay currently studying an Arts Foundation at Carmarthen School of Art. 

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Introduce yourself and your work.
I’m Jasmine Jones from West Wales. I’d say my artwork is still in development; I’m definitely still a student rather than an artist but I’m on my way.
I like to think of my work as my filter. Most people can filter what they say, only saying what’s worthwhile rather than babbling on relentlessly but I, however, babble relentlessly often losing what I actually mean to a flood of words. Creating artwork for me turns this flood into a gentle stream, through which I can see more clearly. I know it sounds airy-fairy but that’s the best way I can explain why I do it.

How long have you been making art?
I have a vivid memory of my grandma, who used to be a medical illustrator, sitting with me in the living room explaining that the body is not made of sticks but has many lumps and bumps. I can’t have been older than four but it’s definitely where the interest sparked.

Describe your work in three words.
Big, paint, colour.

Describe the way you work in three words.
Off the cuff.

What’s your favourite colour?
Can I just say the primaries? Red, blue and yellow are the only ingredients you need for a painting… white helps it on its way.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
At the moment, the time is way low; maximum 6 hours. Throughout my school years I’d take around 20 hours so this fast pace is changing the way I work- for the better, I hope.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
It’s funny because the environment depends on the work. If I’m creating something expressive I prefer to be alone, freed from any judgement of others, but then again, I love doing portraiture from life because I can sit with the person, ask them questions and see how their expression changes throughout the process. I find it meditative being entirely immersed in someone else.

Who inspired what you do?
People in general are my biggest inspiration. Anyone and everyone. Sometimes artist, sometimes not. A funny little woman I saw in London once inspired an entire project and she’ll never know it!

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
A couple of years ago I painted a portrait of my father, it was never finished and it’s on a flimsy piece of A2 paper, but I think that was a point for me when I thought, ‘this is what I love doing, I’m going to carry on doing this for as long as I can.’

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I just hope I find it equally as exciting and frustrating as I do right now.

What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
All the little pops and crackles the sea makes underwater on a calm day.

Jasmine Jones plans to start studying Fine Art at University of Arts London: Camberwell, in September. If you fancy keeping up to date with her wonderful work, you can follow her  art account on Instagram here.



Young and Creative: Hattie Morrison

This will be the first of many for ‘The Young and Creative Series’- a series focusing on, and celebrating, up-and-coming working artists under the age of 23. Since the late nineties, publicity and general media coverage of the British art scene has revolved around a small group of artists (often referred to as the Young British Artists or Y.B.A’s). Though this praise is often well deserved, SOON wants to provide a platform for some new young artists. Hattie Morrison is the first to be featured, and will be followed by many others to come.

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Introduce yourself and your work.

I am a soon-to-be twenty year old artist and writer from South Wales currently studying Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. I am a film-maker, writer, painter and installation artist, mainly interested in ephemerality and attempting to capture the best, fleeting moments that seem to fly by- Henri Cartier-Bresson called this the “decisive moment”. I use my work as a tool to try and lengthen these moments out because I’m scared of their inevitable death, really. I think the fact that memories fade is one of the saddest things about life. I’m the sort of person that plays the same song over and over until it sounds completely different and I find parts of it that I never noticed before. I try to do this with my art too- make and make and make art until I find out something new about myself or life.

How long have you been making art?
I sound like a classic pretentious artist but because my entire close family is full of artists, I feel like there was never really an artistic debut for me- I just popped out and have kind of been making things since. I do remember though, when I realised that I wanted to be an artist properly. I was going through a lazy time at school, and my grades were falling and I was focusing more on being one of the class clowns than I was on succeeding. That year my Dad took me to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room at the Tate Modern. As soon as I walked into that room I knew I needed to leave my tiny village in Wales and try to make art that affects people in the way that that art installation made me feel- it was a kind of like I had walked into space (all the lights look like tiny stars that stretch out forever and ever) and realised that the world was so big and full of possibilities.

Describe your work in three words.
That is difficult.

Describe the way you work in three words.
Sporadic, intense, late.

What’s your favourite colour?
I love green and pink, but only really when they are together.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It completely depends on when I feel satisfied – I have pieces of work that have been brewing in my mind for nearly a decade now, and others that take me a couple of hours. Sometimes coming up with and perfecting an idea is the part that takes the longest time, and materialising it takes nearly no-time at all. I had an idea for a film that I was sitting on for about three months and it took a day to film, edit and export.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I used to love painting with people I care a lot about sitting next to me. When I now look at the paintings I did last year I see them as an absorption of the sort of atmosphere and emotions I was surrounded by at the time. With that in mind I always try to reflect my current environment in my work, and so if I’m making work about the effect that solitude has on me, I try to work alone. In general though, the physical environment is usually a complete mess, with bowls of cereal, empty mugs, dried up paint scattered around- and music constantly playing.

Who inspires you?
Every single person that I have ever loved and every single person I have ever lost. Music is a massive source of inspiration for me- I always listen to a wide range of different types of music when I’m working, and so Bob Dylan, Erkin Koray, The Corries, Joni Mitchell and The Electric Light Orchestra kind of act like inspiration taps for me- if I put a song on by any of those musicians, ideas start coming at me from all directions. My parents inspire me as well. They are both artists and remind me every day through their own careers in the arts to never give up and to always push on because that’s when people often make the best art. My dad says that we are in the “emotion business”.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
I recently wrote a poetry book and self published it which I feel very proud of for many reasons- I feel as though it’s my most raw work to date and the fact that I am scared to show it to people makes it my favourite- it feels like I have put some white card and a soft back cover over myself at my most vulnerable and I’m offering it out to the world to read and scrutinise. I think the book is the most emotional piece I’ve ever created and for a while I had 100 copies of it sitting in my room- I couldn’t even look at them, they made me feel too strongly.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I’d like to still be with my work in 10 years time- I hope I am still a working artist! If that’s the case, and I am happy with the work I am making in general, I’ll be content (hopefully).

What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
My whole artistic practice is based on the tiny fleeting moments that pass us by so I find this really difficult to decide on just one. I’ll list the ones that I can think of right now-
-The sound that frost on grass makes under shoes late at night or early in the morning.
-The way that the cobbles in Oxford feel like a rocky beach under your feet if you’re walking in the dark.
-When you are walking away from someone and look back because you miss their face already and they look back at exactly the same moment.
-Pulling masking tape away from a painting to reveal a satisfying straight line.

Hattie’s “I Will Write and Write and Write Until Everything Is Right Again” is in the process of publication and will be available to buy at the launch of Issue Two in June, as well as in select galleries across the United Kingdom.

Hattie’s Instagram