ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: JUSTYNA STASIK

The illustrator talks about bringing her vision of love to The Royal Exchange

11 February, 2020

 

The Royal Exchange has commissioned the artist Justyna Stasik to create a series of original artworks exploring the theme of love as part of our Love Is… campaign. The first artwork in the series, titled The Closer We Get, will be installed at the main entrance of The Royal Exchange, where Cornhill and Threadneedle Street meet at Bank station. Here, the artist talks about creating a vision of love to bring brightness and bliss to the City of London.


WHAT WAS THE BRIEF FOR THE ARTWORK YOU’VE CREATED FOR THE ROYAL EXCHANGE AND HOW DID YOU INTERPRET IT?

The brief was to explore love in all its forms – a dream job! It was really fun working on this subject, looking at different kinds of love and trying to find the most universal angles, from passion and romantic love, through to familial love, self love and acceptance.

The piece I’ve created features tender, warm emotions both in the faces and the body language of the characters. The characters are so focused on each other that they don’t really see anything else around them. It’s portraying a love that is passionate, uncomplicated and really grounded in the moment.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE?
 

My work is often described as fun, expressive and simplistic, and this is exactly what I usually try to achieve. I want my characters to be likeable, approachable and relatable, which definitely makes an impact on the overall atmosphere of my work. My aim was to convey the same in the artwork for The Royal Exchange.


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WHERE DO YOU TURN FOR INSPIRATION?
 

In this specific case I turned to my own idea of love and romantic relationships, as well as love in pop-culture – especially music. I made myself a little romantic Spotify session to get into the mood (heavy on Mac DeMarco and Fleetwood Mac) and started working. Usually the inspiration comes from within; my pieces are often based on whatever I’m going through at the moment, or on memories from the past. Everyday objects, people around me, and random comments or conversations are a great source too.


WHAT EPITOMISES LOVE, FOR YOU?
 

Love is patience. It’s also going easy on the chilli while cooking, simply because your loved one has a lower tolerance for spicy food than you do.


IS LOVE ALL WE NEED?
 

It sure is enough!


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON VALENTINE’S DAY?
 

To be completely honest, I’m really indifferent. If you love celebrating Valentine’s Day then go for it, and go big! If it’s not your thing, just skip it and don’t think about it twice. If you’re in between, why not pick a random date and have your own Valentine’s Day then. I would gladly move it to summer time and have a romantic picnic in the park.

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YOUR WORK FEATURES A LOT OF BRIGHT COLOURS AND YOU LIKE TO PLAY WITH PROPORTIONS A LOT, WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK THESE KIND OF VISUALS HAVE ON PEOPLE?
 

Hopefully they bring a smile to people’s faces. I believe seeing an artwork with relatable, body-positive characters having fun – and in all these bright colours – can have a similar effect to meeting with this kind of lighthearted people in real life. This brightness and bliss can be contagious.


HOW MUCH DOES THE SETTING IN WHICH AN ARTWORK WILL BE DISPLAYED INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
 

The size and grandeur of the doorway in which the artwork will be displayed could feel a little bit intimidating. I wanted to make a light, fun and bright artwork to balance it out and create a captivating contrast.


WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HOPE THIS WORK WILL HAVE ON THE PEOPLE WHO SEE IT?
 

If they just stop for a second and look up to see it up close, that will be more than enough for me.


Justyna Stasik is a Polish illustrator based in Montreal, Canada with a fresh, colourful and playful artistic style. She has previously produced work for Apple and The New York Times, and has showcased exhibitions in Poland, Berlin and Barcelona

Visit The Royal Exchange to see The Closer We Get by Justyna Stasik brightening up our main entrance until the end of March. Join the conversation about #WhatLoveIs by sharing your thoughts with us on Instagram @theroyalexchange and Twitter @rexshopper, and share your images of the installation using the hashtag #JustynaStasikxTRE