Fotos: MACIEJ KUCIA @ avgvst international
Illustration: PRZEMEK SOBOCKI @ avgvst international
Fashion Director: KEITH S. WASHINGTON
Makeup: YOSHI-T @ Mondo-Artisit.com
Elegant illustrations by Tokyo transplant Przemek.
Interview MARCUS SPAINER
Przemek Sobocki is an illustrator and art director who started his career after he graduated with a Master’s in Fine Arts from Wroclaw University in Poland, and moved to London shortly thereafter. In 2004 he had his first publication in 125 Magazine, and soon after he had an exhibition at the Speak For Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. His work demonstrates an incredible range from the soothing pastels of his floor design for Isetan Department store in Shinjuku to the austere yet inviting reds and blacks of his recent collaboration work with Alain Mikli in Tokyo. Przemek’s work is featured in 4SEE’s premier issue in print and online. We were able to catch Przemek in between projects to ask him a few questions.
When and where did you start you career in illustration? Do you have a mentor?
My background is in interior and fashion design, but I officially started my illustration career in 2004 when I did my first professional illustrations, ‘The TOUCH,’ a series of 5 illustrations. It was also my first published work and my first award – the V&A Illustration Award for Best Editorial.
A lot of your work has an ethereal, dreamlike quality to it. What inspires you to pursue this theme?
Mostly, I am inspired by cinema and books, and I really like “reality” with a twist – basically “magical realism” – I think our lives are not only about what we can see or hear or touch or taste, etc., they are also about the reality “between the lines.” I am very interested in that part of life and of telling stories in this way; to evoke the feeling of “suspense.”
What projects are you currently working on?
I have a mini exhibition and installation in collaboration with Vermeerist Beams in Tokyo. I also have a project on display in one department store in Taipei, as well as some packaging work and private commissions.
What brought you from Poland to Japan?
Coincidence. I was living in London before and really wanted a change, then I had my big exhibition in Tokyo and the rest just happened.
Has the culture in Japan influenced your work since moving here?
I’m sure it has in some ways – you keep evolving and changing and the environment and people you are surrounded by definitely have an influence. But I don’t think much about it. Actually, recently I’ve noticed that because I am here I’ve started longing for inspiration from my roots more, like from Poland or European culture in general.
What role do you think an illustration artist has in the fashion industry?
They can show things differently. They are not bound by the physical limitations of their environment or the models in the same way that a photographer might be. Instead, an illustration artist can bend the rules a bit and really explore the concept behind the clothes.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
When you feel complete inside. When the composition, the color, and the “message” are perfectly in line with each other. Or when there’s a deadline, and you just need to send the data out. Sometimes you can keep working on the piece forever.
Tell me about your recent project with Alain Mikli in Japan?
It was a chance for me to get back to my interior design roots. It was great to do research on the brand and to try to create the project, which would be a modern representation of the DNA of the brand. For me, it’s the whole thing, the whole process as one. Even the display was the main representation of it. I’ve created the checked pattern in black and coral red – based on iconic patterns and glasses of Mikli and warped the boutiques themselves – inserting optical “effects” referring to magnifying glasses or rain drops.
What drew you towards the black and red checked theme?
As I just mentioned above it was a direct reference to Alain Mikli`s colors. Actually, we used the exact CMYK proportion that the brand is using for their visual identity, like in their logo for example.
What is your favorite pair of glasses?
My own Alain Mikli frames from our collaboration –a limited edition only for Minami-aoyama and Marunouchi boutiques in Tokyo. I also love Prada glasses.
What is your favorite city for inspiration?
Hmm… maybe Hong-Kong. Or Paris.