Why do I do art?

Today, I have stumbled upon a Skillshare class by Guy Kawasaki, the chief evangelist at Canva. It has inspired me to think about my role as an artist and the art business I do. He suggested to ask me a few questions: What is the meaning behind my (art) business? What do I want to achieve in society by doing this business? Why do I do this? He advised us to answer these questions ideally in a short statement of 4 words. So here is what I came up with:

My artwork arose from the need for self-expression because I am rather a quiet person, it is my communication channel. I have a vision of the world translated into a simplified aesthetics and mostly flat shapes. I am a woman so that my focus is probably a female subject in my work. I love creating new stories too, so I inject my ideas into book concepts and animated short films.

The visual elements and interesting stories together play an important role in everyday life. They are a source of inspiration, knowledge and emotion.

1. I provide inspiration to others to become creative and create their own worlds, pictures and stories.

2. I am a source of knowledge I collected over the years and I published it in my own books.

3. My short animated films are emotionally engaging and moving.

That’s how I would sum it up.


I am listed on IMDb

I have done some work and became listed on IMDb (the largest and authoritative Internet Movie Database), so you can find my partial filmography in it along with some other basic information such as my publicity in media and my published books. Today, I was very surprised to find out, that my Starmeter ranking has rocketed up to the position of 44350. I read somewhere on the internet, that the Hollywood stars and crew usually rank above the position of 15000. However, for someone like me based currently in Slovakia, it is a huge success to be among the first 50k film and television creatives from all around the world. 

Dala som si trochu práce a tak som uvedená v najväčšej filmovej databáze IMDb, kde môžete nájsť zoznam mojich filmov spolu s ďalšími základnými informáciami ako moja publicita v médiách a publikované knihy. Dnes som bola veľmi prekvapená, že moje umiestnenie v Starmeter vystrelilo na pozíciu 44350. Niekde na internete som čítala, že Hollywoodske hviezdy a tvorcovia sa obvykle umiestňujú na pozíciách do 15 tisíc. Avšak, pre mňa je to obrovský úspech, že som zaradená medzi prvých 50 tisíc filmových a televíznych tvorcov sveta. 


Parkylife won Bronze and Silver Award

The UK based agency Havas Lynx won two awards for Parkylife project at the Drum Roses Awards 2020 last week! They were awarded Silver and Bronze in Sports/Health and Illustration/Animation categories. I provided an illustration for the project thanks to Eallin Animation production company. More information on the awards web site.

Anglická agentúra Havas Lynx vyhrala dve ceny za projekt Parkylife v Drum Roses Awards 2020 minulý týždeň. Získali striebornú a bronzovú cenu v kategóriách Šport/Zdravie a Ilustrácia/Animácia. Poskytla som ilustráciu do projektu vďaka produkčnej firme Eallin. Viac informácií je na stránke súťaže.


Little pixies and colours - animated poetry (Farebníčkovia a farby - animovaná báseň)

Together with a poet Aurelia Štefanková, I created a short kids animation about little pixies in the world of colours in the Slovak language (Farebníčkovia a farby). 

Credits: Director / Writer: Petra Štefanková, Writer / Narrator: Aurélia Štefanková, Designer / Animator: Petra Štefanková.

Spolu s poetkou Auréliou Štefankovou som vytvorila tento krátky detský animovaný filmík k básni o Farebníčkoch vo svete farieb v slovenskom jazyku.

Credits: Režisér / Námet: Petra Štefanková, Text / Rozprávač: Aurélia Štefanková, Dizajnér / Animácia: Petra Štefanková.


Values of my artistic practice

Illustrator and designer Brooke Glaser inspired me today with her lecture on Skillshare focused on the topic ‘Make a Living as an Artist: Strategies for Crafting Your Creative Business’.

So I was thinking and came up with 3 most important values, that can be found in my works (as Brooke Glaser recommended us to define some of those). It is a fact, that my art is varied, it is applied to different customer needs from commercial illustration in books and magazines to art objects, drawings and paintings. These are three elements, that could be identified in my work in my opinion:

Authenticity

My work is originally based on the automatic drawing method and so-called unconscious doodling. I use also handmade materials such as handmade papers, marbled papers, handmade sketchbooks and art books. I transfer my signature style on different materials – canvases, textiles, wood, leather by drawing, painting or printing and laser burning.

Originality

A strong element of my work is a linear drawing and miniature drawing with an emphasis on the bold outline. Some of the artworks tend to be more abstract and use irregular shapes of patterns.

Playfulness

Colour palette is adjusted to a current mood from earthy and natural tones to fresh pastel colours, also with some use of black and white. My works often depict characters and people in different stylizations, who see the world by their many eyes.

Ilustrátorka a dizajnérka Brooke Glaser ma dnes na Skillshare inšpirovala svoju prednáškou na tému ‘Zarábaj ako umelec: Stratégie pre váš kreatívny biznis’.

A tak som sa zamyslela nad tým, aké sú 3 najdôležitejšie hodnoty, ktoré možno nájsť v mojich prácach (na základe odporúčania Brooke Glaser). Faktom je, že moja tvorba je rôznorodá, nachádza veľmi odlišné aplikácie od komerčnej ilustrácie v knihách a časopisoch po voľné objekty a kresby či maľby. Toto sú 3 elementy, ktoré v nich podla mňa možno identifikovať:

Autenticita

Vychádzam pôvodne z automatickej kresby a tzv. bezmyšlienkovitého „čmárania“. Využívam aj ručne vyrábané materiály ako su ručné papiere, mramorované papiere, viazané skicáre a „art“ knihy. Prenášam svoj rukopis na rôzne podklady – plátna, látky, drevo, kožu (napr. kresbou, maľbou, tlačou či laserovým výpalom).

Originalita

Silným elementom mojej tvorby je lineárna kresba a drobnokresba prejavujúca sa výrazným rukopisom obrysu. V niektorých dielach prechádzam do abstrakcie a kresby nepravidelných vzorov (patternov).

Hravosť

Farebnosť je prispôsobená aktuálnej nálade od tlmených zemitých a prírodných tónov k sviežim pastelovým farbám, ale aj s využitím čiernej a bielej. Moje diela najčastejšie zobrazujú postavy a postavičky rozličných štylizácií, ktoré pozerajú na svet mnohými očami.


New experimental illustrations

I decided to use my marker drawings as the basis for digital colouring on iPad Pro using Artstudio Pro app. As for the markers, I used Molotow black liners and the Aqua Color brushes. It surprised me, the results are really nice. For now, I created only drawings of unreal people’s faces (fictional portraits). In the future, I will be thinking about more complex ideas using this style too. So it could eventually match some of your briefs, I hope.

Rozhodla som sa použiť moje kresby fixkami ako základ pre digitálne kolorovanie na iPade Pro a aplikácie Artstudio Pro. Použila som black linery a Aqua Color brushe od firmy Molotow. Výsledok ma prekvapil, vyzerá to fajn. Zatiaľ som vytvorila len kresby nereálnych ľudských tvárí (fiktívne portréty). V budúcnosti budem uvažovať o komplexnejších nápadoch v tomto štýle. Snáď sa vám to bude hodiť k nejakým zadaniam.


The artist outside of the hub

I have a past of a world traveller – I have been to places such as Western Australia, Rhode Island, California, New York and many cities in Europe. I lived in Prague, Dover and London many years ago. I studied or worked as a freelancer there too. And I spent my whole childhood in Bratislava, where I was born. During my childhood, it was quite popular to travel for holidays abroad – for example, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Croatia or so.

At the moment I shuttle between the capital, Bratislava, and a small village in Zahorie area of Western Slovakia. It is surely a huge difference in my lifestyle because I am not inside the hub of creative events and the professional community. I am surrounded by a small number of neighbour’s houses – we have a filmmaker, a customs officer, a lawyer and people from some other backgrounds here. They usually work in their gardens and around their houses when they are at home, which is actually not the work I tend to do too often.

Zahorie does not provide much visibility to the artists, there are just a few public galleries and museums. Therefore I am more focused on my creative work and (mostly online) marketing side of the job. This opportunity to slow down provided me with the space to explore my creative outputs more actively. I try to draw every day. I sketch many ideas and compositions until I am happy with at least one of them. Then, the process depends on whether it is appropriate to draw it digitally or use traditional acrylics.

The art market, either for commercial illustration or fine art, is very small in Slovakia. So I feel quite dependent on the interest and trust of foreign commissioners. They allow my creativity to flourish and stay alive. So if you are just reading this and have something in mind, do get in touch. I really love to hear from you.


Appreciation of painting

For 20 years I have been a digital artist. I started as a vector graphic designer and illustrator designing posters, logos and brochures. Later on, I worked on magazine editorial and advertising illustration commissions for clients in Italy, the UK and the USA. My characters have been funky and simple, very technical and based on computer-like geometry.

In the meantime, I was exploring automatic drawing as a technique for relaxation. They were just doodles to me, nothing much. So for the higher aesthetics purpose, I created 3D computer models of these drawings and suddenly became quite well-known for this type of work. It was more than 10 years ago.

I was pushing my drawing skills further every day. Of course, I had graduated from an art academy before, where I undertook the basic figure drawing training. I usually sketched on small sheets of paper, then larger and larger ones. My work was very abstract with some characters, heads, eyes and other figurative elements in it.

Another stage was a pure line work with black markers. These were just strange and funny characters connected by a single line all over the artwork. I used the style in a children’s book too and led a few workshops with kids thanks to the simplicity.

Then I did many more drawings on paper again. Now I realised that the stylisation of my figures was becoming more mature. I also translated some of it into vector illustrations, where every part of the human body was exaggerated. I used new drawings on paper as a starting point for my iPad creations as well.

After many years of doing creative artwork, I started to explore acrylic painting. It was not an easy process, I tested out gouache, oils, watercolours too. Finally, I arrived at a stage, when my art feels ready for people to appreciate it more and more. And it actually works!


Lady in gold

For the first time ever I tried out the gilding technique on canvas with my acrylic painting. It was tough, but I did it! Fortunately, I found a spare small canvas at home (of the 50x60cm size). I sketched a few ideas in pencil on paper first. The final artwork represents a fashion female icon as if seen in a magazine editorial of a famous brand. Some elements such as the eyes and the gold leaf itself might remind Klimt’s artwork, but the signature drawing and figure stylisation are unique. I used metal gold leaf, it is not the genuine gold. Below are some sketches from the initial stage, which I usually draw on a smaller paper. This way I can achieve a nice detail of the linework as well as tweak the composition.

Prvý krát som si vyskúšala techniku zlátenia na plátno s mojou akrylovou maľbou. Bolo to ťažké, ale zvládla som to. Našťastie, našla som doma čisté plátno vo formáte 50x60cm. Naskicovala som si niekoľko nápadov ceruzkou na papier. Výsledné dielo reprezentuje módnu ženskú ikonu akoby sme ju videli v časopiseckej prezentácii slávnej značky. Niektoré elementy, ako oči alebo zlaté plátky samotné môžu pripomínať Klimtove diela, ale osobitá kresba a štylizácia figúry sú úplne unikátne. Použila som metalové zlaté plátky, čiže nejedná sa o pravé zlato. Nižšie je zopár skíc mojich nápadov, ktoré obvykle kreslím na menší papier. Takto sa dá dosiahnuť pekný detail v linke, aj vyladiť kompozícia.


The Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic Award

I feel very honoured to announce that I became a laureate of the Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic Award 2019! I was awarded for the long-term international presentation of Slovak visual arts abroad. Other ten artists from all backgrounds of professional arts have been recognized by this prestigious prize including the amazing opera singer Titusz Tobisz and the principal ballet dancer from Vienna State Opera, Nina Polakova. I would like to thank the Minister of Culture, Ľubica Laššáková and the jury, that made this decision.

Cítim sa veľmi poctená, že môžem oznámiť, že som sa stala laureátkou Ceny ministerky kultúry Slovenskej Republiky za rok 2019. Bola som ocenená za dlhoročnú prezentáciu slovenského výtvarného umenia v zahraničí. Medzi ocenenými z rôznych oblastí profesionálneho umenia sú napríklad úžasný operný spevák Titusz Tobisz a baletná sólistka Viedenskej štátnej opery, Nina Poláková. Ďakujem pani ministerke kultúry, Ľubici Laššákovej a tiež komisii, ktorá rozhodovala.


Collecting Japanese Art Awards

This post is a little flashback to the past when I was collecting awards and diplomas from the Japanese organisations for my computer graphics and illustrations. I wanted to find out more information on it for some special professional occasions. I discovered, that two diplomas I received from Toray DCA, were signed by the most prominent digital artist in Japan, Yoichiro Kawaguchi. A number of times he presented his work at the SIGGRAPH conferences in the US. His work in robotics was also mentioned in a video on the web site of the BBC. The other award and trophy I received were from Hirosaki City mayor. He granted it to me during the group exhibition of DIDO - Digital Discovery Illustrators Organisation. DIDO was founded by the illustrator and teacher Marty M. Ito.

Tento príspevok je krátkym návratom do minulosti, keď som zbierala ocenenia a diplomy od japonských organizácií za počítačovú grafiku a ilustrácie. Chcela som zistiť o tom viac informácií kvôli aktuálnym profesionálnym príležitostiam. A tak som objavila, že dva diplomy, ktoré som dostala v súťaži Toray DCA boli podpísané najprominentnejším digitálnym umelcom v Japonsku, Yoichirom Kawaguchim. Predstavil sa niekoľko krát na prestížnych amerických konferenciách SIGGRAPH. Jeho práca v robotike bola tiež spomenutá vo videu na stránkach britskej televízie BBC. Ďalšiu cenu a trofej som získala od starostu mesta Hirosaki, ktorá bola udelená pri príležitosti kolektívnej výstavy s DIDO - Digital Illustrators Discovery Organisation. DIDO založil ilustrátor a učiteľ Marty M. Ito.


Artfacts Performance Award

I received an award certificate from a Berlin-based company running the online artist database Artfacts.net. My global artist ranking advanced 125 % in 2019. The highest rank I earned in my art career was number 9242 in 2000. The numbers are calculated from the evaluation algorithm of my exhibitions added to the system in comparison to other approximately 600k artists on the web site. You can see my full profile here.

Dostala som certifikát od Berlínskej firmy, ktorá prevádzkuje databázu svetových umelcov Artfacts.net. Moje globálne umiestnenie v rebríčku sa v roku 2019 posunulo nahor o 125 %. Najvyššie umiestnenie v kariére som dosiahla v roku 2000, bola som na priečke 9242. Tieto čísla sú vypočítané z hodnotiaceho algoritmu na základe mojich výstav v systéme v porovnaní s ostatnými, približne 600 tisíc, umelcami na tejto stránke. Môj celý profil si môžete pozrieť tu.


My noble life story until today

I spent many years living with my parents in the Bratislava city centre, in a large flat of one of the oldest Art Nouveau buildings. Both of my parents worked for national newspapers and I literally felt like being raised in a very noble manner. This starting point of my life gave me the confidence to be a helping hand to my peers. With a basic internet knowledge of the old days, I built a community forum for them online. I even organised competitions for young artists and animators with some publicity and sponsors.

When I moved to England between 2006 and 2010, I was suddenly celebrated as an artist-illustrator when I won a nation-wide talent competition organised by Channel 4 television called 4Talent Awards. As a direct result, I was invited to the Royal Society of Arts Fellowship in London. This shifted my life completely, I was part of luxurious events at different historic landmarks of London. I got to attend the same events as many representatives of British or foreign nobility. To name a few, it was a private view of Rubens and Brueghel exhibition at the Buckingham Palace Gallery, networking meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and many more. Princess Royal introduced the President’s lecture at the RSA House and I was honoured to be there too.

Later, while still living in London, I supported illustrators from Slovakia and the Czech Republic and helped them to find projects abroad, so we made a contribution to international publishing. I brought and presented a selection of Slovakian animated shorts to a festival in France and flew to Western Australia to give a lecture about computer art.

However, in 2011, I had to come back to Slovakia. I lived and worked in a beautiful house in the Western Slovakia countryside. It became a time of some intense introspection and family life. I did not wish to lose my connections to the UK, so I began volunteering as the RSA Connector. I promoted the RSA in Slovakia and nominated a number of interesting personalities from Slovakia, France and the UK to the Fellowship successfully.

I was also sitting at the board of the Slovak Art Forum (Umelecká beseda slovenská) in Bratislava for two years. The office of this visual arts society was in the premises of Matica Slovenská in Bratislava, the Slovak cultural and historical organisation. It was quite interesting to see all the pictures of the famous Slovakian leaders from the past such as Ľudovít Štúr hanging on the wall behind me.

When my children’s books got published between 2016-18 I delivered a number of creative workshops for children in libraries and schools across Slovakia. I always had a passion for sharing my work experience in the arts, so I also gave lectures at universities.

In the end, I realised that I only followed my ancestors legacy, despite knowing so little about them. My great grandmother spoke French and played the piano and my great grandfather served the tsar’s family. Their son, my grandfather studied in Vienna but his heart was attracted by the land in Slovakia and he put his roots down here.

Unconsciously or not, I build upon the work of my family members. I am still curious and open to new chances that my exceptional life brings me. So do not hesitate to get in touch if you wish to propose a collaboration, project, art commission or so. I will always be happy to respond.


Exhibition of Parky Life project in London

On the 14th of November 2019, there was an exhibition of the illustrations from the project Parky Life in the building of the agency Havas (The HKX Building, 3 Pancras Square, London). There is my illustration on the easel (left) near the other illustration created by the most recognised young Swedish illustrator living in London, Alva Skog. Yay!

14. novembra 2019 sa v budove agentúry Havas v Londýne (The HKX Building, 3 Pancras Square) konala výstava ilustrácií k projektu Parky Life. Moja ilustrácia je (vľavo) na stojane hneď vedľa najoceňovanejšej mladej švédskej ilustrátorky žijúcej v Londýne, Alvy Skog.


The Art of Hate comics anthology

My work, a short comics of 4 pages, has been published in an international comics anthology The Art of Hate. The book was compiled by the London based publisher, Centrala. I created a short story with an ecological theme for this purpose. There is less than 40 authors from all around the world in the book.

Moja práca, krátky štvorstranový komiks, bola publikovaná v medzinárodnej komiksovej antológii Umenie nenávisti. Kniha bola skompilovaná Londýnskym vydavateľstvom Centrala. Vytvorila som krátky príbeh s ekologickou témou na tento účel. V knihe sa nachádza menej ako 40 autorov z celého sveta.


Photos from Brancaccio Palace in Rome

In July I did a photo session with an internationally recognised Italian photographer, Carlo Gianferro (winner of the World Press Photo Award for portrait) at Brancaccio Palace in Rome.

V júli som si dala urobiť sériu fotografií medzinárodne uznávaným talianskym fotografom Carlom Gianferrom (víťaz svetovej novinárskej ceny za portrét) v Brancacciovom paláci v Ríme. 

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

Petra Štefanková in Rome

About the venue: Brancaccio Palace is the last Roman Patrician Palace built in 1880 in the heart of the eternal city, Rome. Located on Colle Oppio, near Emperor Nero’s, “Domus Aurea” and the seven hills, between Colosseum and the famous Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Princess Mary Elizabeth Field, the American wife of Salvatore Brancaccio, gave parties here also in honour of the King Umberto of Savoy.

O paláci: Brancacciov palác je posledný Rímsky patricijský palác postavený v roku 1880 v srdci večného mesta, Rím. Nachádza sa na Colle Oppio, blízko Domus Aurea cisára Nera a siedmych kopcov, medzi Koloseom a slávnou Bazilikou sv. Márie Maggiore. Americká princezná Mary Elizabeth Field, manželka Salvatorea Brancaccia, tu robievala oslavy tiež ako poctu kráľovi Umbertovi Savojskému.




Book in the library of Artium Museum

Did you know, that my profile and artworks were included in a book written by Steven Withrow and Jack Harris ’Vector Graphics and Illustration: A Master Class in Digital Image-making’ published in the UK by Rotovision in 2008? It was even translated to the Spanish language and published by Promopress in Barcelona in 2010. Moreover, it is now listed in the library catalogue of the famous Artium Museum in Spain! Direct link to the library catalogue entry here.

According to Wikipedia, the Artium Museum holds works by the most famous artists, including Joseph BeuysJake and Dinos ChapmanSalvador DalíJoan MiróPablo Picasso and others.


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