Roman Klonek is an illustrator specialising in woodcuts. His bright and bizarre illustrations are a mix of cartoons, folklore and Pop art. Whimsical humanoids and creatures fill the boards, sometimes provoking amusement, sometimes discomfort, and sometimes both. Roman shares with us his artistic influences, creative process and professional path.
I was born in Kattowitz, Poland, but when I was three-years-old my family moved to Hanover, Germany. Nowadays I’m based in the German city of Dusseldorf which is where I studied Graphic Arts.
Every child loves to draw but at the age around 10 or 12, many kids just quit drawing because they start censoring themselves. Somehow I ignored this and simply never lost my interest and desire to draw. I was always thrilled by cartoons and it’s a great discovery when you just realise that you can create your own worlds and stories with only a few strokes. This pleasure is a perfect force. You can not stop it.
Quite early on, I developed a preference for strange and funny things. I was inspired by Jim Henson, Robert Crumb, Hergé, Disney and Tex Avery who were some of my big early influences. But before this Polish and Russian cartoons screened on Super 8 had a big impact. They depicted easy stories in basic colours and actually I still love bold and colourful image ideas.
Currently, I´m an Illustrator and Woodcut printer. After studying I started an acquisition tour in Hamburg, because there are many magazine publisher and advertising agencies. Fortunately quite soon I had my first Illustration jobs but that was not making enough for a living. Around 2000, I learned Flash and that was a very good time to make some money with simple animations for the internet. A few years later I started working with US Frank Sturges Reps.
Some of your notable clients have included BlueQ, Pepsi, Radio Flyer, Soyjoy, New York Times, Chronicle books, Wired, JNC Magazine. My favourite projects I’ve been involved in were a Mural for Butch Becker, a restaurant in Dusseldorf; designing bread packaging for Bakehuset, a Norwegian Bakery; and working with RPA advertising for a Soyjoy TV commercial. My big personal project is woodcut printing.
In terms of my process, when I start a drawing, it’s not my first intention to find a certain solution for an image. It’s rather to get into a good drive – or a good rhythm. And also bringing the thoughts, that attending me during the drawing, into this rhythm.The goal is to obtain a dynamic interplay. My brain is guiding my hand, and at the same time, my hand is also guiding my brain. In this way, a lot of material comes into existence and later in a mood of reflection I can pick up some elements for a further processing.