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.