Jagoda Stączek loves wordplay, taking things out of their natural environment, changes of context. The deteriorated, yellowed paper of old newspapers and herbaria. From each travel, she brings back old magazines, fragments of worn-out books and forgotten photographs from antique shops in side streets and Sunday flea markets. Her main inspiration is traditional painting. Baroque pictures in countryside churches or renaissance portraits which when seen in childhood awakened something resembling fascination combined with fear. All this broken up by a hint of macabre humour, hidden joke, or subtext. Most of her collages is created in analogue. She has all the pieces in a physical paper form, and her favourite tools are scissors and glue.
Your morning routine?
I’m something of a night owl. I work best after dusk, which translates into the fact that my mornings start late and are rather slow. Shower, leisurely breakfast preparation, music, bathrobe, answering emails, getting orders for dispatch ready, and the creative work most often only after dark.
The first thing you do when you come to your studio?
Music, light, tea.
Instagram, Fb or no social media?
Definitely Instagram, I think in pictures not text. I even believe that Instagram is my small addiction, and I’m trying to limit my use of it. On the other hand, how can I not have an Instagram working in the creative industry?
Magazines/books you read?
Pismo. Magazyn Opinii – I both illustrate and read it 🙂 Same for Newsweek psychologia, KUKBUK, Kmag. That’s it for the Polish magazines, on top of that foreign press online issues. Books are a broad topic, I go through different phases, recently it was reportages of Ilona Wiśniewska: Białe, Lud, Hen. It is a kind of reporting that has something of fiction in it – written with a wonderful tender language yet talking about the cold – a topic that fascinates me a bit as I lived in Iceland for a while. I also love the ironically tragic style of Kurt Vonnegut (my favourites are The Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse-Five, Bluebeard). Another book that impressed me profoundly is Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. And from Polish literature, next to Wiśniewska, is A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Myśliwski. I could keep expanding this paragraph for a long time as my literary fascinations are vast, from Lem to non-fiction, a few books of the Brave New World type, and a few reportages from North Korea.
Three objects which are essential at your work…
Scissors, paper, glue, but also a scanner, without it there would be no posters afterwards.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Definitely scissors and a precision hobby knife, I carry out some collages in a digital form, but I love to create in analogue. Cutting, different structures of the paper, old newsprint, that relaxes me, becomes meditative even. I come back to my senses many hours later, usually in the middle of the night, I cannot feel my legs as I spent several hours in an awkward position, cutting away.
What inspires you and motivates you to get your work done?
I think because I just like to do it, I don’t need special motivation, creativity in itself comes to me in surges and gives me great pleasure. It’s worse with paperwork, supplying with practical things like tubes, packaging paper, stickers. But here I find my motivation in the recipients and that you want to buy my work. It’s uplifting and it’s worth carrying out that part of the job.
One funny story from your work.
The funniest stories almost always take place when you interact with other people, so in my case they happen at design or poster fairs. I created a guardian of my stall, it’s realistic pig figurine, the kind that you buy when you are a collector and you want to build a miniature farm. I stuck butterfly wings to it as a joke and to make it match my works. Children fell in love with it. Once a small boy, about 5 years old, became hysteric about it and was begging his parents to let him take the pig. His mom threatened to take his favourite whistle away. The boy calmed down, thought it through, and took the whistle out of his pocket. He gives it to his mom, saying cool-headedly: “Now I want the pig”.
The project you are working on right now.
I often work on several projects at the same time, recently I have been fascinated by spatial moving collages, there has been quite a bit of those made already and new ideas keep coming. I’m also working on one secret project that I will keep to myself for now. Other than that, I also periodically illustrate texts for several Polish magazines.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love not having a boss, setting my own working hours and environment, and the fact that I have a creative job that keeps giving me new challenges and is never boring. A shortcoming of such a job is that I am “in” it all the time, when I go for vacation, somewhere far away where I cannot create, I often miss cool orders and collaborations, and when I’m sick I still need to ship the parcels and accept the orders because I would lose them otherwise. The income is unstable, like e.g. right now during the epidemic when the design fair got cancelled. But I still consider this a low price for independence, creative freedom and being the mistress of my own time and working conditions.
Hand-made or mass-production?
Something in between, I sell the copies of my works in the form of posters, yet I’m unsure if you can compare the scale to the mass-production one. It is still a one-person entrepreneurship. And you can also buy the analogue collage in its original version.
Do you work individually or with a team?
Only me and my small universe;)
But in the case of design fairs and mass events I get help from my partner or my friends. My partner also becomes the mastermind in situations that require engineering skill.
How do you rest and relax after work?
Woods, mountains, yoga, swimming or rather wallowing in the water. That’s when I have energy for being active, otherwise it often comes down to Netflix and chocolate.
Do you have advice for anybody who wants to work in your field?
Don’t be afraid to invest in high quality of product form the start, better, more refined print, more exclusive sales fairs. More expensive fairs mean more recipients and better profits. Better quality means returning customers that, even if they don’t have any more empty walls in the house, will bring their whole family and all their friends.
Purchase posters by Jagoda Stączek (Blueberrythinks) here: