Born in 1973, Monika Hanulak works as an assistant in the workshop of Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, her alma mater. Together with Grażka Lange and Małgorzata Gurowska, she forms the CMYK group. Hanulak specializes in illustration as well as organizing exhibitions. She is especially fond of art books.
Born in 1973, she works as an assistant in the workshop of Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, her alma mater. Together with Grażka Lange and Małgorzata Gurowska, she forms the CMYK group. She is involved in creating illustrations as well as organizing exhibitions. Hanulak is especially fond of art books.
Her vector illustrations to Pampilio by Irena Tuwim (publ. Wytwórnia, 2010) carry a modest range of colours. Hanulak introduces in it symmetric compositions, with large silhouettes of the main protagonists set against the background filled with smaller ones, arranged in pattern-like, perspective-less constellations. She combines simplicity with crisp outlines, playing with repetition, and forming rhythmical images that complement the story. The long path take by the rowing Piglet (Prosiaczek) is represented in a sequence of repeating identical images, which are larger at the top of the page, and become smaller towards it bottom, thus suggesting the boat's drifting away towards the horizon. The artist worked on her illustrations to Pampilio for no more than few weeks, until a dream she had made her change her mind almost at the last moment.
Hanulak was also in a group of young illustrators invited to participate in the publication of poems by Julian Tuwim (Tuwim: Poems for Children / Tuwim. Wiersze dla dzieci, publ. Wytwórnia, 2013). In this project, she made a witty attempt at reflecting the motion of a pageant of humans and animals, collectively trying hard to pull a turnip out of ground. Monochromatic characters make a line that runs across the entire two-page spread. Hanulak generates the effect of pulling by adding faded shadows of the figures, shifted to the left, as if she was creating a time-lapse recording of their movement. The final collapse of the line is represented with a characteristic sense of humour – all we can see at the end are the protagonists' legs turned upside down.
The orange- and pink- tinted illustrations to Smonia (publ. Wytwórnia, 2006) reference children's doodles: the characters are drawn by cross-hatching, which occasionally reach beyond the main outline, as happens in a child's drawing.
Hanulak's works also gained acclaim outside of Poland. She prepared two books for French publishing houses. For Rouergue, she illustrated the adventures of little bears (Boucle d’or et les deux ours), while for Lirabelle – the history of evolution (C'etait un crocodile. Petite histoire de l'evolution). The author talks about the latter book, largely based on the visual content:
It is cool to teach children how to tell a story through images. You offer them a puzzle that they need to solve, and think about for a little bit, follow the visuals, identify a certain pattern. [warszawa.gazeta.pl]
Hanulak does not limit her work to books for children. In 2009, she prepared a graphic representation of Leszek Kołakowski's text A Philosophical Debate on Justice Between a Rabbit and a Hoopoe (Debata filozoficzna Królika z Dudkiem o sprawiedliwości), structuring it in the style of a chess game, and therefore inviting the reader to lay flat the elements of the book as if it was a chess board.
When asked about her future plans, Hanulak says that she would like to illustrate the Grimm fairy tales, in their raw, unedited form.
I would like to create a series of books with ten most important fairy tales by the Grimm brothers, with modern graphics and illustrations that aren't easy, light, or simply pleasant. I would like to sacrifice the visual appeal, colourful attractions for the sake of mystery. I might manage that by the age of 80… [warszawa.gazeta.pl]
Author: Agata Morka, April 2015, transl. Ania Micińska, May 2015