Instagram: @michalpecko

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I live and work in Poland, on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. I run a small graphic studio focused on design for cultural institutions, illustrate and teach at my alma mater, the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk.

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

Difficult task. I think that I strive for synthesis and graphic simplification, but the end result are often dense and layered compositions. Whether I use color or operate in grayscale, I am committed to building rich atmospheres. Probably because of my professional background – architecture – the dominant theme in my works is space, usually the one created by mankind. In my visual language you can feel the reminiscences of old graphic techniques (some of them are also a part of my process).

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

Despite the fact that the vast majority of my work is created in a digital environment, if I were to point out my favorite tools it would be pencil, pen and paper. Basics. There is no faster and more noble in its simplicity way to capture thoughts than a hand gesture written with graphite on a sheet of paper. And I’m in love with risography too.

4. What is your artistic process like?

It is quite complex. Basically it all starts with a sketch in a classic plain Moleskine (always XL size, 19 x 25 cm). Then I switch to digital tools – I work mainly with vectors. When the composition is ready, I move on to Photoshop – that’s where the main fun takes place. I build black and white images from textures processed by an old Xerox copier. I arrange the flattened compositions on several layers in Illustrator and pour them with flat color – this way allows me to keep a certain simplicity and avoid being too wordy. Once I’ve found the right color scheme, the illustration is ready. I would describe my process as post-digital. Despite the fact that most of the work is done in a digital environment, the way I build my illustrations is very similar to the process of creating classic analog graphics.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

I love to observe the works of old masters, from Proto-Renaissance artists to the fathers of modern painting. I am deeply immersed in the world of architecture. I am interested in the visual language of the old and contemporary representation of architecture that has not yet occurred. I try to carefully observe the reality that surrounds me, get the most out of everyday life. I do not run away from pastiche. I don’t believe in inspiration suddenly coming from another dimension.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Gives purpose. But let’s face it, it’s just fun too. 

7. Where did you study?

I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk (Architecture and Design Department) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vilnius (Animation and Stage Design).

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Good question. I still wonder who I will be when I grow up. Maybe in five years I’ll grow up.

9. What about in ten?

Even better question. I see myself in the middle of a midlife crisis and I think (hope?) this will be a good time.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

To be honest, I see myself more as a designer than an artist.  It is much easier for me to answer questions rather than asking them. I would like to participate in valuable projects that talk about important, not trivial matters. It would be great to inspire other creators, to catch the zeitgeist. Being part of the valuable visual culture of our time is already a lot.

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

I am a simple guy with simple needs. Gluten and peanut butter. My relationship with peanut butter is bordering on love and pathological addiction. 

12. Favourite book?

I can not point one. I mainly read literature related to architecture, city tissue, typography and graphic design. I love Michael Cunningham (A Home at the End of the World), Michel Houellebecq (Submission), Patti Smith (Just Kids), Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).

13. Favourite genre of music? 

If I had to name one, it would be trip hop, my safe place (Bjork, Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Unkle). I’ve gotten quite eclectic lately. One day I can listen to both good pop like Lady Gaga and heavier climates performed by artists such as Arca or Burial. Recent musical discoveries: Oklou, Gaika, Shygirl, Kedr Livanskiy, Amnesia Scanner, Sega Bodega …

14. What are your hobbies? 

I am one of those bores who claim that their work is also their passion. Honestly, in my free time I draw, make collages, I play with typography. Besides, I’m an urban animal – I like to spend time with my friends over coffee, sour beer, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, walks, etc.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I would probably be miserable. Or maybe not? Ceramics, basketry, metalwork, maybe I’d be a pretty good craftsman?