I’m SUPER excited about this featured creator as she’s been an inspiration to my work ever since I decided I wanted to become an illustrator. Kristyna came to uni when I was a first year to deliver a talk to us about being a freelance illustrator, and ever since then I’ve been hooked on her work & pursuing illustration! 🖍
Hey Kristyna! Tell us a little about yourself:
Hello! I’m Kristyna Baczynski, a freelance illustrator and comics creator. I work from my home studio in Leeds and most people say my name wrong, but it’s okay.
Where do you get inspiration for your illustrations?
Everywhere, really! I’m easily impressed and enthused about things. I love plants and animals, old clothes and trinkets, nintendo video games and science fiction.
You use both traditional and digital tools to create your work. Which do you prefer using: pencil on paper or the Apple Pencil and iPad combo?
I generally favour my iPad set up these days, simply because it’s quicker and I’ve had a busy past year so I’ve been forced to speed up my process. I still start all of my projects in my big project sketchbook, drawing with a mechanical pencil. But have less time to work on paper for finished pieces. I’m hoping to make more time for it, because as magic as the iPad is, you’re still staring at a screen for hours.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I set up my business within a few months of graduating because I’d got a few freelance animation and storyboard jobs as a result of winning a national award for some of my uni work. I didn’t really know what I was doing (who does?!) but my mum had been self employed for a long time and helped me to get registered with HMRC and it all started from there. It was tough at first, and I had to also work full- and part-time jobs for a few years before I felt confident enough to rely on my business as a full-time job.
Last year you published your very first graphic novel, “Retrograde Orbit”! What was the most exciting/rewarding part of the process? Do you have any advice for any artists who would like to produce their own graphic novel?
I wish I’d done it sooner! It was a mix of terror and excitement when I first started working on it - I would wake up and immediately my stomach would churn thinking about people reading it or reviewing it. That wore off after a few weeks as I leaned into the process of drawing it, which took just under 3 months. I loved working on a long-format project all summer; I’d wake up and know exactly what I was doing every day and draw images that I didn’t know I could draw. It was an exhausting rush. My favourite part is seeing people love the book, enjoy it, feel it, cry a bit, laugh... that’s the best. Knowing that the complex stuff I tried to capture was communicated in a real way. Nothing beats that.
What’s your proudest achievement so far?
It still blows my mind that I can make a living from comics, zines and illustrations. Financial independence makes me proud, because it has seemed impossible at times. Apart from that magic, getting nominated for Best Short at the Eisner Awards for my comic Hand Me Down (which I drew in 24 hours!) was pretty great for the ol’ self esteem.
What’s your favourite thing about being an independent maker?
I love the combination of solo-time and social-time. As an introvert, I found working in a design studio with 100 other people exhausting, so I really appreciate being able to spent most of my time alone in my studio, pleasing myself. But, this obviously has it’s dangers: hermit danger, forgetting how to talk danger, turning into a blob danger. So, I appreciate the fun social side of it, too: online and offline. Doing fairs and comicons is most of my social life, really! I have met some fast and true friends through it, but also getting to connect directly with fans and customers is wonderful.
Would you ever consider a brick and mortar shop for your products?
I’ve thought about this before, but I’m not sure! I love that solo time. I’d prefer a brick and mortar print and bookbinding studio, instead - with a small shop on the side, that is open maybe once a week.
Do you have any role models who helped motivate you to were you are today?
My family are especially important to me. I learned my work ethic from my maternal grandparents and my impossibly hardworking mum. Like, how do you bring up 3 children on your own and not be inspirational?!
Do you have any advice for anyone who’s just starting out or struggling to find their way in the creative world?
March to your own drum. The digital world is designed to quantify your success in numbers of likes or follows and it’s toxic as hell. Don’t let that determine what you think success is, define it yourself and know that if your work means something to you, it’s automatically worthy. Real connections are one hundred time more valuable than a casual double-tap.
Where can we find your work?
My portfolio website is kristyna.co.uk
My shop is kriski.etsy.com
Find my online at instagram.com/kbaczynski
So that’s Kristyna! If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out her portfolio - especially Retrograde Orbit! I have a copy and it’s such a beautiful novel, both aesthetically and story-wise. Thank you Kristyna for being this month’s featured creator!
Adios for now,