Words: Zuzanna Stachura

Illustrations: Katarzyna Baranek-Stachura

My mother – Katarzyna Stachura – graduated as a Master of Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice in 1998 with an excellent mark. Over 20 years after graduation, she still works as a graphic designer.

How old were you when you decided to go for the artistic path? What were the signs that showed your deep interest in art?

Art has accompanied me from an early age. I grew up in a house with an artistic tradition – both parents were artists, I watched them while working. Nobody encouraged me to draw at the time – I was reaching for crayons and paints myself. I’ve spent so many hours.

Why did you decide to go for graphic designing instead of more traditional ways of making art, like painting or graphic techniques?

I went to the Academy of Fine Arts with the belief that I would be a graphic artist, a painter. However, during my second year of studies, I was fascinated by graphic design, lettering and typography. I have noticed that I can use my skills and experience acquired in drawing, painting, graphic or sculpture studio differently.

Have you had any background before entering the Academy of Fine Arts? Or were you self-taught?

I’ve been drawing at home ever since, for pleasure. However, it turned out that before taking entrance exams, it is necessary to have a kind of training, systematic work (just like a musician or an athlete). That is why I decided to take an intensive, 3-year preparatory course in drawing, painting and composition.

What would you recommend for young artists? Did something in the time of your education help you? Do you have any tips that they could find helpful?

It seems to me that you must not waste your talent, not give up your passion, but above all, work very intensively, gain experience. Every new project, order enriches us, teaches us.

Did you participate in any additional student internships or extra-curriculum activities during your studies?

During my studying years, there were two computers at the university that were very hard to get to and occupied by students constantly. We had to sigh up for them and often burn a candle on both ends to get the work done. Students looked for additional opportunities on their won, tried to get their hand at befriended advertising agencies to gain experience.

What skills did you have to acquire on your own that you did not learn in class?

The biggest and best school I went through was job in a graphic design studio, where I started working on my second year of studies. I had the opportunity to learn from great graphic designers. I draw from those experiences to this day.

Have you met female artists who have influenced or inspired you?

My first and strongest inspiration was my mum – she was the one who made me passionate about art. Thanks to her, from a very young age I had the opportunity to look at the life of an artist who combines the duties of a mother with those of a professionally taken, strong woman. During my studies, the male part of lecturers and professors prevailed in the teaching staff. Now, with a smile, I see more and more women at the university, including many of my colleagues from the year.

How do you define an „artist”? Is it the education that makes one, or just the talent is enough?

For me, it is primarily a state of mind, sensitivity, the ability to see the world ambiguously. And a great sense of freedom.

If you could go back in time, would you still choose graphic design?

I guess so. But another area that interests me too is landscape design – I could do that.

In conclusion, what’s your favourite memory from the time at the Academy?

Surely the people I’ve met – friends, students, lecturers… the unique atmosphere at the university. And working in a graphic studio, where I learned the most.

Thank you so much for todays talk, I wish you many more years in the profession!

Katarzyna and her colleague – Agnieszka Tyrman (Koćwin)