Agata Dudek, born in Warsaw in 1984, is a graphic designer, illustrator, and author working in a variety of mediums. She has collaborated with several enterprises including the children’s clothing company Endo.
Dudek has received a number of prestigious awards including the main prize at the Książka dobrze zaprojektowana (The Well Designed Book) competition and the Grand Prix SATYRYKON LEGNICA 2009. She has been nominated several times for the Najpiękniejsza książka roku PTWK (PTWK’s Most Beautiful Book of the Year) and Książka Roku Polskiej Sekcji IBBY (Book of the Year of the Polish Section of IBBY) competitions. Her publication Wandering Across the Sky was deemed the Book of the Year 2011 by the Polish Section of IBBY and the Most Beautiful Book of Year 2011 by PTWK. She had been previously nominated for both awards for the illustration of Aldous Huxley’s short children’s book, The Crowes of Pearblossom. She has presented work at international exhibitions in Bologna, Berlin and New York. Her illustrations have appeared in a vast number of publications, including Newsweek, PANI, Przekrój, Bluszcz and Zwierciadło.
In 2010 Dudek obtained her diploma from the Faculty of Graphic Art of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts under the guidance of professors Zygmunt Januszewski and Monika Hanulak. Her diploma work, a book entitled, Literatura od kuchni, czyli opowieści smacznej treści (The Preparation of Literature, or Tasty Tales), remains among her proudest achievements. She remarked in an interview with Ryms, a quarterly on children’s books:
This is my authorial book and when I was realizing it I felt like a fully-fledged creator. From the selection of texts, to the last sign I set down.
Since 2010 she has been working as an assistant at the illustration workshop in the Faculty of Graphic Art of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Trylogia Gdańska (The Gdańsk Trilogy), one of her most highly regarded works, consists of three stories about meritorious inhabitants of the coastal town of Gdańsk. The consecutive volumes present the tales of Jan Heweliusz, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and Artur Schopenhauer.
Children make a very good audience. When you illustrate children’s books you can often let go and try something new. Besides, stories for children are magical and compelling and that can be reflected by the illustrations.
She recalls vividly the illustrations that embellished the fairytales from the former soviet republics in the books of her own childhood, in particular Janusz Stanny’s drawings and the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen. She doesn’t necessarily hope to imitate the sinister nature of those illustrations, but hopes rather that her works take the same active residence in the memory of her own audience.
Although she is best known for the illustrations she makes for children’s books, the artist doesn’t want to be perceived as a children’s illustrator.
I wanted and I still want to illustrate books, regardless of whether they are children’s books, artistic or authorial publications or fiction stories for grown-ups.
In 2012 she illustrated an anthology of crime stories entitled 7 grzechów głównych (The 7 Deadly Sins), marking the first time she illustrated a book for mature readers.
In addition to illustrating she also runs a graphic studio, Acapulco Studio, co-founded with her friend and fellow graphic-artist-and-illustrator Małgorzata Nowak. There the artist realizes projects 'for four hands' and makes sure everything is suitable and coherent. Dudek said in a conversation with Culture.pl:
When I work I like to have control over what I do, I prefer when all the elements amount to a whole. That is why I often choose collaborators that I feel comfortable with, whose work completes my activities.
Such is the nature of collaborations with the partner studio Poważne Studio, with which Dudek realized a number of excellent books, including The Gdańsk Trilogy and the children’s guidebook to Paris, Zozo & Lulu, by Elizabeth Duda.
Dudek is also familiar with the world of fashion. As a part of a cooperative project with Pan Pablo company she preared a series of T-shirt designs. Toying with a comic-strip -ike aesthetics , she juxtaposed dialogues, closed within dialogue clouds with a drawing of a sneaker monster. This rather messy composition is soothed by a modest palette she chose, minimalizing the number of colors used to red, white and black. Together with several other artists, Dudek took part in a charity fund raiser Mai Project, for which she created a pair of hand painted shoes. Her project is characterized by courageous use of color and pattern: she combines splashes or orange, black and yellow with a pattern of dots.
Despite having her hands in so many ventures, the artist manages to find time to realize personal projects and maintain several hobbies. She collects papers, junk and old letters, which constitute an indispensable inspiration to her, and grows ecological tomatoes on her windowsill. Although she works neither as a graffiti artist nor street artist, she very much enjoys using spray paints within a painting context. "This form of expression is completely new to me and I’m slowly discovering what it has to offer," the artist emphasized in a conversation with Culture.pl.
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