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Down to Business: Artist Kristyna Baczynski

Down to Business: Artist Kristyna Baczynski

Kristyna Baczynski is a Leeds-based artist whose work has featured both locally and nationally, celebrating the joy of colour and fantasy. We found out more about her working life, creative history and the inspiration behind her "weird" designs…

Reader's Digest: For those who do not know you, can you briefly outline your creative projects?

Kristyna Baczynski: I’m a freelance illustrator and comics creator, which means I'm often working on multiple projects at once. These can range from editorial illustrations, to book publishing, to large-scale installations.

Often, freelancing means you can't set your expectations, because every client is different and may want something unique, so you have to be flexible and open to their ideas. Alongside illustration, I create comic and zine projects, which are a place where I explore weirder ideas that might spook a client.


down to business illustrations


RD: How does your work complement your personality?

KB: My work tends to be colourful, striking, emotive and playful. That doesn't necessarily come across in my personality when I first meet people, though.

I'm an introvert, so am most at ease in my own company, which means I can seem reserved on first impression. I get to live out my extroverted fantasy with the characters in my work.


"Freelancing means you can't set your expectations"


RD: What, if anything, did you study, and how has it influenced your working practice today?

KB: I studied Graphic Arts & Design in Leeds as a degree. It afforded me three years to experiment and grow, which definitely started my practice rolling. It was a multidisciplinary degree, which meant I was trying out printmaking, animation and illustration all at the same time.

I think all those disciplines and skills converge in my work, especially in my comics. I loved printmaking at university, especially screenprint. I still make illustrations with limited colours because of how much I love that printing method.


RD: What was your process of becoming self-employed?

KB: An extended weaning period of years. My final project at university won a national award, which got me some recognition and my first clients. I still had to work other jobs, as a full-time designer or part-time print technician to supplement my freelance illustration income for quite a few years.

In 2017 I got to a point financially when I could quit my part-time lecturing job and give illustration my all.




RD: What does an average day of work look like?

KB: My days can be very varied, for instance, I'm currently in Denmark for two weeks talking about my comics and running workshops.

It can also be very repetitive, especially for graphic novels or children's book projects, as the volume of pages is so massive that I'm doing the same thing, in the same room, every day for weeks or months at a time.

Every new email from a client can be some new adventure or more of the same. It's a dice roll each time.


"I get to live out my extroverted fantasy with the characters in my work"


RD: Who inspires your career?

KB: My talented friends are a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. Jo Crawford and Jules Scheele especially.

I love seeing my friends succeed and grow more powerful day by day. It gives me the motivation to be better and aim higher.


RD: What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?

KB: My favourite parts of my job are working alone and self-determining my career and schedule. I love it so much. That level of responsibility used to be daunting, but now I feel empowered by it.

My least favourite part is chasing invoices, administrative emails, doing my taxes and negotiating contracts. They are absolutely essential skills, which would topple my little business if removed, but that doesn't mean they're any fun.


This image and header photo by Joanna Crawford


RD: What do you do to switch off?

KB: I have a difficult time switching off. I decided to turn my hobby of drawing, which I used to do as an escape from my day job, into my full-time profession. So it can be tough creating a boundary between drawing for work and drawing for fun.

I also work from my home studio, so the temptation to keep working into the night is very real. The most effective way for me to detach is to play video games and escape to Hyrule.


"The most effective way for me to detach is to play video games"


RD: When you're not working, where are your favourite places to be?

KB: Whenever I finish a big project or have a little success to celebrate I go to Temple Donuts for coffee and sweet treats. Their rhubarb and custard doughnut is my favourite, I think about it most days.

I live close to The Brudenell Social Club and Hyde Park Book Club, which are amazing gig venues, but also do great food and drink. It's ridiculous that such excellent venues are walking distance from me. Leeds is great.




RD: What is your number one business tip to people looking to grow an audience online?

It's a tricky one, as social media can be a bit of a time-sink and emotional vampire, but it’s also a useful tool to promote your business. So it's about balance. Don't rely on it for all your motivation and encouragement, but use it to share smaller pieces of your work.

Everyone's audience or followers are different, so don't aim to please an existing audience by looking at what other people have. Build your own by pleasing yourself first, then like-minded people will respond to that.


RD: Where can people follow your creative work?

I'm easily found online, but only if you can spell my name. That's the magic trick that unlocks my content.

Actually, I'm lying, you can misspell it because Google suggests the correct spelling now, which is some kind of achievement. Where's my medal?

My full portfolio is at www.kristyna.co.uk, and I’m also on Instagram and Twitter.




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