Press illustrations form the bulk of her work and they have appeared in dozens of international magazines. She also designs book and CD covers, and illustrates children’s publications.
Sławińska started out in fashion design, which she studied for two years. When she realised that she didn’t have a particular knack — or liking — for sewing, she changed her course. After completing her studies at the Department of Graphic Design at Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, Sławińska went on to study at L’Ecole Estienne in Paris, where she obtained her diploma in graphic design in 2010.
A crucial point in the illustrator’s life was a student exchange trip to Berlin. Enchanted by the city, Sławińska decided to settle in the German capital. Till today she believes this was a good decision, stressing that Berlin is one of the most inspiring cities in the world, a city which has a positive impact not only on graphic artists and designers.
Marta Sławińska belongs to an American illustration agency, and she also successfully sells her work to media outlets in the US. Her narrative, pictorial illustrations have on many occasions accompanied articles about social phenomena; their gentle mood perfectly complements stories about the changes taking place in the modern world.
In addition to providing illustrations for newspaper and magazine articles, Sławińska also designs posters, flyers and CD and book covers. In each of them lies an understanding of the medium’s specificity: whereas in her press illustrations Sławińska allows herself to develop stories, build narratives and introduce numerous characters, her posters and covers require a minimized style comprising expressive symbols and individual motifs that draw your attention. The two roaring tigers on the cover of The Thiams album, or the face of a black man on a flyer for a party at Berlin’s BarBoBu club, are good examples of pictures which announce events in a symbolic way. Sławińska also creates more unusual works, such as illustrations and graphic pieces for shop windows and menu boards in bars. Such graphic works may be ephemeral, but they are just as demanding, in that they rely on combining text and pictures in an attractive way.
Marta Sławińska also illustrates children’s books. She admits that this is a widely performed occupation among press illustrators and graphic artists. However, Sławińska’s interest in children’s literature stems from her own childhood, when she created her own illustrated tales. "It is extremely important to nature that element of childlike sensitivity that exists within," she explains.
Marta Sławińska remembers that her passion for drawing was born during physics, chemistry and math lessons — sketching was her way of escaping the boredom. Now she has her very own style, of which the tranquil and poetic mood of Japanese illustration, and sometimes the atmosphere of 1950’s photography, are discernable features. Sławińska creates moods and tells stories, not with colour or brushstrokes, but with texture. The textural marks she employs have their roots in traditional printing techniques, in lithography, and this is another reason for placing Sławińska’s illustrations firmly in the "vintage"style category.
From time to time even the artist attempts to modify her style, to avoid being locked into one style of aesthetic style and to keep searching for new ideas and forms. She maintains that inspiration can be found anywhere: in our meetings with other people, on the streets of our cities, in landscapes, in books, music and architecture. It is important to look for ideas by on one’s own — Sławińska believes that a bad illustration is, above all, one that copies a motif created by someone else.
Read more at: www.martha.pl (in English) / www.marta-slawinska.tumblr.com
Author: Anna Cymer, August 2013
English translation: Garry Malloy