Perfect Pastel Ilustrations by Martyna Wójcik-Śmierska

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Martyna Wójcik-Śmierska is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer who specialises in editorial illustrations comprised of soft lines, speckled surfaces and dreamy pastel colors. She currently works as a freelancer in Warsaw spending her time designing and creating unique illustrations, posters and spreads for all manner of projects. Having admired Martyna’s seemingly effortless flair for narrative illustration from afar for some time, we decided to become acquainted with this exceptional illustrator and find out more about her life and what she gets up to day-to-day at her home studio in Poland.

Martyna tells us that the word ‘creative’ described her from a very early age. Like many of the illustrators and designers that we have the pleasure of chatting to, her world was awash with drawing, painting and collage as soon as she could grasp a pencil or brush. ‘I’ve been always drawing something, painting or gluing’ she says, ‘I studied Fine Art at Upper Secondary School, and then went on to study Graphic Design at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun.’ To date, Martyna has worked with the likes of Wrap Magazine, Anorak and The Debrief and exhibited all over the world.

Working from the sanctuary of her home studio, Martyna addresses each of her varied freelance projects with great care and precision. She tells us, ‘I create everything at home. I very much value order, peace and focus during work and don’t like anybody or anything interrupting me.’ It’s because of this need for attention to detail that she’ll spend the morning clearing her head with a coffee and a relaxing walk with her dog. Then it’s on to emails and drawing. She says,

‘Each day brings something new and nowadays the world is small. One day I might be preparing an interview for a magazine from Copenhagen, whereas the next, I’ll have to submit materials for a very different publication in China. This international sense of creativity is what I love most but honestly, it is a hard work. I spend long hours in front of a computer while drawing and sketching and there’s hardly ever enough time.’

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Inspired and delighted by the world around her, Martyna cites her greatest inspirations as fellow artists, painters and creatives. ‘I really value classical art forms and graphics’ she says, ‘perhaps that’s is why my illustrations look like printmaking, even though everything I do is usually finished digitally.’ Layering textures, shapes and clashing colours, her work is a clear mix of styles, blended by happy circumstance with winning results.

Simple things, such as sitting down to a nice meal with her husband or seeing her work published in print spur her exceptional work ethic and imagination and its these everyday moments that are so well communicated in her illustrations. Though there’s a distinctly playful storybook vibe to them, Martyna’s images are rich with realism and thoughtfulness. From homely scenes to galaxies and jungles, each cheerfully inked character for a magazine article, blog post or even a leaflet tells a relatable tale.

Currently working on new editorial illustrations and commissions day by day, Martyna’s plans for the future are uncertain. Chiefly because she believes in taking each day as it comes and tackling new challenges head-on. A talented illustrator with a wonderful eye for colour and form, her positive attitude and hardworking nature are a testament to the brilliant layered images she creates. ‘My advice for young talented people?’ she says, ‘draw a lot and work hard. Don’t take long breaks while drawing or doing important project work. Search for your own style and never be afraid to experiment.’


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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth