Hey Alex, for those who dont already know you, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a full time freelance digital and traditional painter, graphic designer and 3D modeller. I’m a rambler I’m a gambler, “I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover, and I’m a sinner”. I have “a college education, wild imagination, add it all up it’s a deadly combination”. Following the lyrics of the last song – not sure If I would be a good bass fisher but I plan to see for myself one day. I’m particularly known for my passion for making dad jokes even though I’m neither a man nor a parent. Prefer dogs to cats and love key-lime pie.
I had to look up that second quote becasue Ricochet: Daddy’s Money, is not on any of my playlists currently. So I guess you’re “country as a turnip green?” But I am old enough to have liked Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.”
So other than introducing me to a new country song (which I begrudgingly admit isn’t half-bad.) you‘ve done two awesome book covers for me. Dark Communion we worked together on really closely, but the second one, you actually read the story first and decided to go ahead and start without my input, and I absolutely love it. What made you choose that particular scene from The Apostate Prince?
I think I’m particularly lucky that your writing is so good.
Seriously… I didn’t have any problem with picking a scene to illustrate. I could easily pick a couple more but I decided that I don’t want to reveal what happens as the plot unfolds. Luckily you start your story in medias res so, as a reader, I was thrown instantly in the middle of a battlefield. The bold description of the opening fight scene with illusion magic combined with necromancy was more than enough to work on my imagination.
You use a lot of amazing dramatic lighting. What were your inspirations for the stained-glass on the cover of Dark Communion?
I travel a lot and I have seen some breathtaking architecture. Sacred architecture has always been really inspiring for me, regardless of the religion it stands for. I love the play of light through stained glass, subtle reflecions it casts on the surroundings, the warm glow it creates. Light always draws attention best and even though it’s hard to incorporate it in an illustration is deffinitelly worth the effort because light and color is what can make a given piece special.
I know you are doing work for some other companies, particularly with dragons. (Awesome) What other projects do you have going on right now, and where can we find them?
Not so long ago I started working for the Curseborn Saga as an illustrator for game posters, I was also working on Jade Summer coloring books (yes 25 pages of just dragons, how cool is that?) I did a mandala coloring book too, should be out soon. I’m just doing lots of smaller commissions, mostly book covers and children book illustrations, because my main focus at the moment is improving my traditional painting so I can apply once more to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters open exhibition. I didn’t get in last year but you know what they say, get famous or die trying.
You’ve done tons of great Game of Thrones fan art. What other work do you most enjoying doing?
I always enjoyed doing fan art of all sorts. As far as I can remember I was inspired by movies and later by books, sometimes cartoons and comics. I’m fascinated by human characters and fictional characters are constructed in such a way to evoke emotions. Artists are emotion-driven creatures and that’s how it works. I did some artwork inspired by DC comics, some other I did after watching Hobbis series, some after reading The Wicther. Even when I was fifteen I drew my inspiration from films, one of my first portraits was drawn after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes, you guessed correctly. So typically for a teenage girl at the time I had a massive celebrity crush on Johnny Depp, hah. ‘
What is your dream project?
Your next book cover, hah.
No one’s going to believe that…lol. C’mon, seriously.
No, in all seriousness I cannot think of one project that I dream of doing. Some of my best projects came absolutely unexpected so I just got to learn that everything can be a dream commission when you approach it as such.
When I have writers block, I listen to songs that suit the mood of the scene Im working on. What do you do when you are short on inspiration? Is there a particular place, food, drink, or kind of music?
In my case is mostly songs too. On some occasions it’s audiobooks. I put an audiobook on when I work on something that doesn’t require me to focus too much. Most of the time is music that gets me going for hours. I just put my best headphones on and detach myself from real world. When I work on an oil painting I put on the best of Tchaikovsky or Brahms or just a random playlist of my favorite tangos. Sometimes I just go for something melancholic and nostalgic, Cesaria Evora never fails to get me in the mood. Up untill very recently I wasn’t much into blues but then I recently I fell in love with Joe Bonamassa and Blues of Desperation plays on repeat more often than not when I paint. Fantasy digital illustrations go well with rock/metal (every possible subgenre that emerged throughout last 40 years). When I work on something psychodellic I put on Grateful Dead or Steppenwolf. But there are days when my brain goes funky and I can literally listen to country or hard core disco music while working on a highbrow traditional flemish style painting.
So far your playlist includes; country music, Greatful Dead, Steppenwolf, Steve Miller Band, tangos, Joe Bonamassa, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms.” You are making me feel like an “uncultured American” for having Metallica, Imagine Dragons, and Nickelback (dont judge) in mine. Lol So, switching over to visual art. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to…
My, oh my. I won’t even try to name any names from art history, I’m way to humble and respectful to do it. But I can tell you about some of my contemporaries that I learn from or at least try to. The first is an incredibly talented traditional portrait painter Cesar Santos. I absolutely adore everything he does and also love the fact that even though he’s pure genius, he is so cool and down-to-earth. I just recently bought his series of video lessons and I know that it will help me to improve dramatically. When it comes to digital painting, I’m torn between the style of Wootha and his incredible use of color and light and my fellow countryman Piotr Jabłoński. In Jabłoński’s work I’m especially drawn by the mezmerizing details and most importantly his storytelling skills. You look at the imagery he creates and you are both attracted and taken aback by its morbid, disturbing subtlety. Magic. I know I won’t get any close to any of these artists any time soon, but dreaming doesn’t cost me anything.
Jablonski is 42 and Wootha is also in his 40’s. You’re 26? You have at least fifteen years to go before you are anywhere near their age and experience. I’m sure you’ll get there. But for 26, you have done a lot of traveling. I follow you on facebook, and you are always in a new place, doing something fun and making me totally jealous. What is your favorite or most inspirational place?
It’s almost impossible to name one place. I think it’s all about the general set of experiences and emotions that travels evoke. Everything is strange and intriguing. Bill Bryson once said that there is something magical about not knowing the language of a country you go to because you can feel like a 5 year old again. You don’t understand people, you marvel at new views, you taste food you’ve never tasted before, take part in customs you never experienced before. But up until my first trip I done on my own I backpacked Croatia for a couple of days) I didn’t realize that the true inspiration does not come directly from a particular place. It’s people, it’s friends, you take with you and meet along the way, it’s your familly. They are the best part of every journey. I felt that California was my place on Earth, but it’s not because the sun and palm trees. I miss all the lovely moments I spend with my aunt and uncle there. Then I moved to London then moved back to Poland after a year. Do I miss it the UK? Yes. Even though living there is far from being a rose garden I had so many great friends to see me through bad times and share the joy of good times. For the same reason I missed Poland when being in England. Now I discovered another place in Europe that is special for me for pretty much the same reasons but I will keep it a secret for now. If I reveal everything at once You won’t make an interview with me when your next book is out!
Awesome answer, and I look forward to hearing about this new place you found. Until then, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given when it comes to your art?
I was given lots of advice, all helpful, all motivational and I did benefit greatly from it. However, the one that started it all was a piece of advice from my Father. My Mom saw me as a child prodigy since I first drew a cat with 8 legs on a freshly painted living room wall and was always my biggest fan, but my Dad was more realistic about my life choices. He basically told me to get a real job, preferably follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. I was in high school a bit confused, never tried graphic design in my life, my painting skills were nothing exceptional back then. Why this was an important piece of advice? First of all, it made me decide against going to art school, which was the best decision in my life. Secondly, it got me to choose something relatively useful as my major. I picked English philology, which I saw as a vehicle for advancing my career and reaching foreign markets. Lastly, my Old Folk’s words made me so angry and rebelious that I became bent on showing him that he is wrong and I will make a living as an artist no matter what. He finally admitted that I was right in pursuing art career and that he’s proud of me. It was probably one of the most moving moments in my career so far.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I try to set myself short term goals. I don’t like planning ahead because my life is a set of random, accidental events and I just float along. I enjoy my life as it is, ever-changing and full of surprises. When I was younger I lead pretty boring, stable, and safe life and that’s why I grew convinced that stability can never give me happiness. That’s why career-wise I’m not looking for anything permament just now. Maybe eventually I will settle comfortably in a gaming or publishing studio. That’s one possiblility. Other is that I will start leaning more towards traditional art, take commissions, go to art shows, maybe even get a gallery representation. One thing I’m aware of, it’s a long way to the top and I still have a lot to learn no matter if I chose traditional or digital art. For now I just listen to my gypsy auto pilot.
You arent allowed to anyone’s book covers but mine – ever. lol So other than that, are you taking commissions?
Hah, I’m sorry I’m a notorious turncoat, I’ve just completed 4 more book covers this month. But I can assure my loyalty by saying that next time you reach out to me I will stop whatever I’m doing and go straight to working on your project. I take commissions mostly for fantasy game illustrations and children books pictures these days. However, recently I drew a huge traditional drawing of a lion and my client has already framed it in a golden frame. It was so satisfying to see it that I feel I should take more traditional commissions..
I want to thank Alex for taking time to answer my questions, and obviously for doing such a tremendous job on my book cover. If you would like to commission Alex for any work you can find her on Artstation.