Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Artist Interview: Aljona of ProPro / Katlix

Hello dear readers - as life goes back to it's normal pace, so will the blog carry on with the series introducing great talent.
Today's guest is Aljona, owner of Katlix Designs, a collection of illustration work and paintings - and my first encounter with Aljona's work. Now she's venturing into new territory with her new endevour, taking a beautifully sarcastic look at the world of  "inspirational prints" - with Proverbial Productions, or ProPro.
please tell us about yourself / background / childhood impressions / important books or movies
My name is Aljona and I am a student of English Literature. I started out with studying Graphic Design, but because of personal/medical reasons I dropped out of Art School. I was planning to study Art History, but after one literature class I was sold. I have always been a huge fan of reading and devoured many books when I was younger. I used to go to the local library almost every day and come back with five books which I would read immediately.

My favourite genres have always been fantasy and fairytales, and I was a fan of humour as well. Asides from normal books I would bring home Donald Duck and Garfield. One of my favourite books is Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and it is my strong belief that everyone should have read this book at least once in their lifetime. And preferably twice: once when they're young and once when they're older. It is a great reminder to stay in touch with our younger self and to not forget that life is about more than just working and paying the bills.

where / when / how did you learn your art/craft?
I have always been a creative person, but I never thought I would be "good" enough for Art School or a career in art. I always thought that for something like that you had to be good at drawing, and I can't draw to save my life. It was not until my last years in highschool that this became a possibility for me.
I first came in touch with photography through a course at my school. It was a little while after my older sister took a photography course while she was still studying. In my course I learned a lot about photography in general and analogue photography and the developing of pictures in particular. I absolutely loved the dark room! It also became one of my favourite courses later in Art School and it laid a great basis for me to experiment with photography.

Then in my last year of highschool I started out with digital art and graphic design and from that point on I was actively looking for a study in art. Aside from the photography courses which taught me a great deal about the technical stuff, I am completely self-taught as an artist. 
where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from all over the place and I try to keep track of them. However I am not a very organized person so I lose ideas all the time as well :P So to talk about my inspiration it is probably to start at the beginning: why I wanted another shop and where the name comes from.

I started my first shop, Katlix Design, in December of 2011 and it was all over the place. I had digital art, traditional art and photography and it was just a mess. Eventually I decided to let go of the photography aspect as it just didn't really fit in and get enough attention as the rest of my art. However, I didn't really wanted to let go of it completely so I kept it in the back of my mind. It was around this time that I really started seeing these pseudo inspirational pictures with text over them on tumblr. To me they were just so incredibly silly and something that only naïve teenage girls like. I just couldn't resist to make fun of that so I started texting silly sayings to my boyfriend and we had a laugh.

Then an idea popped into my head, an idea that was actually a continuation of an old idea. Once upon a time when I was still in Art School I wanted to make these tiles that people in the Netherlands hang in their bathroom with inspiration sayings or bible texts on them. I wanted to do something similar, a combination of graphic design and silly sayings. This idea fit perfectly with me making fun of the tumblr pictures. I started looking around in my huge database of my own photography that I never used anyway and I combined them with the sayings I already had created.
What is even more wonderful to me is that it also combined perfectly with my study. My poetry analysis course and in particular the theorist Victor Shklovsky had taught me that language can be a wonderful form of Art. Especially through defamiliarization the attention of the reader can be caught and can turn a passive reader into an active reader. To put it in more simple terms: when a writer describes a scene or an action in an unusual and unfamiliar way, it immediately grabs the attention of the reader. Instead of just reading a text, the reader is now actively trying to put pieces together in a new way.

This is basically what I am trying to do with Proverbial Productions, or ProPro for short. I wanted to be in the business of creating sayings, proverbs and idioms that are silly, humorous or simply inspire people to go outside their comfort zone and see things in a new way. That is one origin of the name. The other origin is Profane Proverbs, which is kind of an unofficial name. I use a lot of profanity and curse words in my designs. I do not do this to shock or hurt people, but simply because I find them funny. A word in itself cannot hurt a person, it has to be in some kind of context. What I try to do is to put profanity in a context of cute or funny, where it usually does not belong, so that it creates a new meaning all together. Naturally I draw the line somewhere, there are a few words that I will leave alone no matter in what context. My goal is to make people smile, and I will not try to force this.

Do you have a studio in your home / workspace / playlist / preferred working hour / or work everywhere?
At the moment as I am still a student I am completely operating from my bedroom. Unfortunately this has its drawbacks as I do not have a lot of room for everything and as a result my room is always a gigantic mess. Luckily I have two laptops, a big one that is always on my desk, and a small one I take everywhere with me. This allows me to work, design and create art everywhere, from breaks during class to on the road in the train. As I am travelling a lot to and from my parents, my boyfriend and his parents this comes really in handy. As my schedule is super irregular I can work at any time of the day or night. Though in the end I am a night person and I am at my most productive in the late hours. 
About my goals and aspirations, I really do not know. I am really flexible and have a lot of interests, so to me it does not really matter where I end up in life, as long as I am having fun. I hope creativity can play a big role in my work life in the feature and if not, I am sure I will find a way to mix it in with my personal life. 

You can visit the ProProStore via the link, or see Aljona's blog, enjoy :-)

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