When I was a child, I was drawing often and everywhere – on the walls of my room, on paper in the dark with my eyes closed, or into my exercise book at school during history lessons. Most frequently, my drawings were animal figures and other fairy-tale creatures – a mole with a wheelbarrow, an ant queen, a witch on a broomstick or a black-and-white turtle. I was also a member of a visual art club at Elementary Art School where I was being prepared and perfected for practice in arts. Roughly since I was five years of age, I had been sure I wanted to devote myself to visual arts even though I had had no idea of what that actually meant. Of course, my drawings had been developing from a childish perception to a professional execution for a long time. However, I grasped principles of the perspective of buildings quite soon thanks to my mum – a visual artist – who was subtly giving me directions. During entrance exams for art high school, teachers’ criticism was harsh. That egg must roll! – they pointed out when looking at my pencil drawing. Unsurprisingly, the words were followed by my heart-breaking crying behind an art room door. It took about three more months of everyday work for my drawing to change from the shy one to courageous and from dull to attractive. The teachers could not believe their eyes. The way I experienced things internally and the outward expression thereof were also changing – deep emotions and timidity were alternating with daring steps. I think that by developing my own drawing production, I was acquiring not only skills but also self-confidence. My personality was thus picking up the pieces thanks to an ordinary pencil and a piece of paper. I was gradually learning to think individually, after all at the beginning of our training in drawing, we were putting only things we saw around us on paper, or we just copied masters’ pieces of art. Nevertheless, the process aimed at finding a way for us to express ourselves independently with a unique approach. At university, I specialized in graphic design. Therefore, a computer was the main tool of my art-making at that time, but we also dealt with traditional figurative drawing. Thus, we were putting figures – human models sitting or standing in front of students in an atelier – on paper using a pencil or a carbon schematically as well as realistically. Later on, I kept drawing almost always and everywhere as well – but that time, for instance, I drew train tickets, calendar or newspaper pages. I was drawing while having phone calls or surfing the Internet. These records had a nature of an automatic drawing, and they were hardly driven consciously. This way, a countless number of records was created. Doing so, I grasped my personal emotions and fragile moments of every-day life, inner dramas and peace as well as a constant change. Automatic drawing originated in the period of Surrealism in the 20th century, and its roots can be found in psychoanalytic Sigmund Freud or visual artist Max Ernst’s pieces of work. My drawings displayed quality in their content, but they also needed an aesthetic form to attract a viewer’s attention. Hence, in 2006, I came up with an idea to transfer my automatic drawings into a computer by means of a vector drawing and make simple computer 3D models with textures out of them. When my first pieces of art were introduced to the public in the Yet Another Face series, a minor miracle happened. I won the talent competition of young artists in England, and the pieces of art were exhibited in galleries and published worldwide in books, magazines and catalogues. The free graphics overstepped the boundaries of free arts, approaching commercial illustration and vice versa. I applied my style to the front page of 4Talent as well as to individual illustrations accompanying articles for example for Retail Traffic in the USA. These final computer illustrations were also published by the magazine Aesthetica or Computer Arts in England. At that moment, it already seemed that the adult drawing and visually artistic expression would indeed find its use. However, hard economic times came, and I again found myself struggling with myself and sometimes with my nearest. Nevertheless, every time I knew that I cannot quit drawing as a typical expression of my identity. At that time, I again had to pick up the pieces and drawing helped me to preserve my integrity. I tried almost every visual art technique and tool, in small and large format. Out of a number of individual sheets of paper containing my “miniature drawings”, I had several books bound. I scanned some of the drawings and combined them into separate computer prints originally authorized with an acrylic felt-tip pen. I named them A Tribute to Basquiat as naive pictures made in a childish style were typical for this author. Subsequently, individual exhibitions of my free drawing and graphic art-making were held in Bratislava, Prague and Berlin. During my independent exhibition, an entrance door of the Slovak House in Prague was “decorated” with a large-format black-and-white linear drawing interconnecting simplified funny figures forming a single lively unit. In A1 format, I also provided children with copies of my drawings during an exhibition on the premises of Bibiana, the International House of Art for Children in Bratislava. The incoming visitors had thus an opportunity to spend their time colouring in these compositions in the gallery. Finally, I drew on my experience in drawing during creative workshops for children which were accompanied by a presentation of my illustrated books. They were held over the course of 2017 and 2018 in several Slovak cities in libraries, kindergartens as well as on commercial premises of a fast-food establishment. One of the workshops organized in a library in Komarno was focused on the cooperation of school children in drawing. It was attended by more than twenty children with the presence of some parents. The group of children was given a large-format piece of paper, black felt-tip pens and colour pencils. Their task was to draw an image using a single simple full-line and colour in a final picture together. My intention was to point out a need for mutual interpersonal communication and collaboration already in early childhood. Another workshop covered the introduction of the children’s book Čmáranica a Machuľa (free translation: Squiggle and Blotch), which was published by publishing house Slovart. It was a spontaneous event aimed at showing that interesting and meaningful pictures such as figures, faces or complex situations can also be created from ordinary colourful squiggles and blotches. This project was a fast rehearsal of creativity and imagination. For me, drawing is an important and integral part of my expression. By drawing, I supplement my verbal expression when communicating with my closest as well as with the unknown. Moreover, I assert that in my case, drawing is a more expressive form of social interaction than speech or written word. Drawing is intellectual equipment that can be used in practice in numerous professional specializations to a higher or lower degree. Therefore, in my opinion, society’s interest in the drawing as a final artefact as well as a form of the record and visualisation of thoughts should not fade away.
Yet Another Face (2016), Lite-Haus Galerie, Berlin, 2 August – 16 August. Filmové paralely, Film Parallels (2017), Slovak House in Prague, Prague, 25 September – 15 October. Kino spod vankúša, Cinema from beneath the pillow (2018), Bibiana, Bratislava, 11 January – 18 February.
Through a private online communication channel of Anorak, the kids’ magazine from the UK, a number of illustrators from around the world were asked to produce specific illustrations. They had to draw ideas that came from the magazine children’s contributors. I was one of the illustrators, who took part in this challenge. My illustration was based on the idea of the 11-year old boy Alfie who wanted me to draw an axolotl with a fez and a bow tie.
Cez privátny online komunikačný kanál Anoraku, detského časopisu v Anglicku, boli oslovení viacerí ilustrátori zo sveta, aby vytvorili špecifické ilustrácie. Mali nakresliť nápady, ktoré vymysleli detskí prispievatelia do časopisu. Ja som bola tiež jedna z ilustrátorov, ktorí sa zúčastnili tejto výzvy. Moja ilustrácia je založená na nápade 11 ročného chlapca Alfieho, ktorý chcel, aby som nakreslila axolotla s tureckou čiapkou a motýlikom.
Together with 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.