Adriana Krawcewicz a.k.a Adriana Deco, fashion illustration grad from LCF, has quite literally drawn herself a life of freedom, colour and magic. Existing in the worlds of art, fashion and music, she merges her many talents together in a melting pot of fun experimentation and emotional expression. Her drawings, maximizing on line and colour certainly succeed in provoking that air of wonder and awe that all good illustration should. Her voice is smooth and soulful, her music inspired by the eighties pop scene. Upcoming for this multi-tasking media maverick is plenty; London Fashion Week coverage, her latest EP, a spot in Somer Flaherty's The Art of Fashion Illustration amongst many other projects, some secret. I met Miss Deco in Mess, next to the beautiful Saatchi Gallery where she'd been checking out Post Pop: East meets West, to chat about Barbarella, eighties pop culture and her man crush Nick Knight.
Continue for Q&A...
LC So to start, could you talk me through a typical day in the life of Adriana?
AD Okay well it’s always divided between art or music … so lately I have classes in the mornings or I usually go to studio and work on some stuff. Like yesterday I was recording one of my songs so the morning was spent with music, but it varies. Sometimes its illustration or art and then back home to work on my commissions. If you do something you love you don’t really get tired, but at the same time if you think about the artist’s life, in my case at least, its 24 hours doing something all the time. Even writing emails, researching and meeting new people, trying to get out there on social media, it’s really diverse. I'm all in one in a sense. Probably what I aim for one day, it’d be amazing to have an assistant.
I just finished my intern-ship at Show Studio and I was really busy - it was 2 days for music and my commissions, and 3 days a week for Show Studio. I've always been hard-working but that was the most I'VE had in one period of my life ever. I literally have no time to think about myself.
LC So you’ve finished at show STUDIO now but what where you doing there?
AD Well I was gallery assistant, taking care of the shipping the selling part. They’re really involved with fashion illustration that’s why I wanted to get involved. And I’m a really big fan I love Nick Knights work. I felt it was a really good opportunity to see him work in real life.
LC So tell me about your work for 55 pages magazine this upcoming Fashion Week?
AD It’s one of these things I continuously work with this guy the editor in chief he’s a friend of mine he really likes my work and believes in me so I get huge responsibility and at the same time it’s a wonderful gift to go to fashion shows cos he can’t go himself. I've also done illustrations for other issues; but this time I'm going to be representative so it’s really exciting.
LC So which shows are you most excited for?
AD I’ve not yet, we are still waiting for tickets
LC Who are your favourite designers anyway?
AD I definitely love crazy stuff - very shiny, very wonderful so Gaultier would definitely be one of my heroes. I really appreciate designers who have a vision, that’s why Nick Knight is one of my idols; I admire people who are more than just one. He’s a photographer and Gaultier a fashion designer, but they have a huge vision around them and are picking up lots of things from different categories so its art, fashion, music and it’s just ‘whole brand thinking’.
LC So that’s something you’re aspiring too…
AD Definitely I'm inspired to be this kind of person.
Back to the question, I love Mary Katrantzou cos she’s just so colourful and crazy, Louise Gary who’s not really a huge designer now, Meadham Kirchoff - I like crazy stuff. I'm not scared to be crazy; I'm already planning these crazy outfits for fashion week!
Choking on Sunshine, 2012
LC I was going to talk to you about David Downtown cos he actually selected your work for LCF’s external grad show last July….
AD It was really amazing it was, how do you say… the cherry on top of the whole three years because I basically found out about fashion illustration through his work.. So yeah getting to know the person who had a huge impact on your life…it’s a sign you’re going in the right place. The end was also the beginning in a sense. He’s definitely someone prestigious!
LC I can see similarities in your work...
AD I'm not heavily influenced. I always try to be more quirky, I do of course refer to old masters like Rene Grau but you can say they’re more glamour and the thing about my work is it’s not glamour I’d say a theme from my work would be extravagance, for him its glamour, for me it’s extravagance and the avant-garde. It’s really important to find your niche, your direction. That’s the thing about art it will be real if it’s coherent with the self. You cannot lie in art it will reflect
It wasn't always easy. It’s never always easy, but there were some darker moments of uncertainty when I wasn't sure where I was going. For example when I was doing a fine art degree before I came here, back in Warsaw, I was fascinated straight away by fashion illustration but I was surrounded by fine art artists, and there’s a tendency in fine art to discriminate illustration which isn't really fair – you've gotta have amazing skills. I felt really misunderstood, that people weren't getting what I was doing and it didn't sell there, it wasn't popular you’d think omg not sure I should do it should I do something relevant to the market graphic design or whatever but that is not the case. Never do that because sooner or later if you’re dedicated to something it will bring you benefits. I don’t want to sound arrogant but many people were trying to follow the rules and weren't honest with themselves. That’s the problem; you have to be honest and work for yourself. So I'm really happy that I took that step. If someone would have told me 6 years ago id be sitting here doing all this stuff…..
Another Bad Dream, 2012
LC So, going back to David. I watched the interview he did with Lou Stoppard….
AD Oh yeah I was there that day
LC I thought you might be. So he was talking about how illustration isn’t so popular in fashion magazines now, why do you think this is?? Does it affect you…
AD It does. You have to be really smart around this market. Art is a niche in today’s commercial world. Nobody really NEEDS art and nobody really NEEDS fashion illustration. David Downtown’s a very talented gifted artist who already has respect. But there’s always gonna be some niche for you if you’re good at it. Speaking for the magazines that’s unfortunate but I don’t think magazines are the only medium for fashion illustration its more for commercial use, that’s that I'm trying to actually do with my art work expand beyond the sketchbook, okay it looks amazing but so what! I'm thinking about new ideas of how to incorporate art through the modern world for example through gifs and videos and animation and even product design I feel there’s so many artists out there super talented but you have to be smart that’s my experience, just try to find where your illustration fits in. I feel it should be somewhere, instead of just an image there should be something more behind it. I don’t want to discriminate but illustration, it’s not pure art in a sense. Like Saatchi, I don’t think Saatchi would ever showcase, I mean I may be wrong.
LC So do you think it’s harder or easier, to establish yourself as any kind of creative in this internet age.
AD Oooooh. …Yeah it’s.... a blessing in disguise it gives you the exposure and you can reach out to many people, Facebook has played a huge role in my illustration, now people have started to turn away from Facebook it’s more Instagram now and I think there’s huge potential in this. They do always say…. ‘If you don’t exist in social media, you don’t exist in general’ so it’s really important to be aware of this. I wouldn't say it’s the most important - the most important is your work - but without the right promotion the most amazing artwork will never go beyond. Many artists struggle with this concept they feel shy, like they’re never good enough.
LC And with the fashion industry do you feel completely absorbed by it or do you feel a bit separated, can you look at it from a distance?
AD I feel a bit separate yes. I definitely don’t follow the trends, and yes there are loads of people there who just want to be in it. For me, I’d say it was an accident kind of, fashion was never my interest. I started to be interested in fashion when I was 18 which is quite late but it was a wake-up call when I lived in America for a year on exchange ( a huge step in my life), when I had these proper magazines in my hand for the first time like ‘This is Vogue, oh this is fashion, really’. I never expected it could be so beautiful. What I love about fashion now is that its story telling, its clothes but you can interpret them in your own way. Fashion is a huge element of art. Fashion serves as an expression and as for my work, many people have said, it’s not illustrating the collection its more the vibe I get from it. I just like to be inspired by fashion rather than anything more.
LC Let’s talk about music, which you’re most excited by. So you said to me that it connects really well to your illustration can you explain….
AD Yes my concept. Okay so last year I had this… Basically I'm very happy with fashion illustration it’s my dream, and is ongoing quite well but I always felt like there was something missing in my life and a few circumstances led me to think I should go back to it music, I came here and prioritised LCF, but the longer I was focusing I felt something was missing. I wasn't fully satisfied so I invented this concept which is still ongoing of visual singer songwriter. Because I have very strong skills in illustration which I wouldn't say any musician I know has, I started to think how can I merge my worlds together.
So it was actually my BA project based on Barbarella- my very very first experiment - that was my waking up. I love art direction, I love styling I love music, that was when I came up with the idea to merge fashion illustration, film and music which is what I'm working on now, and I’m really inspired by the eighties culture.
I just started working with my producer on some completely new material it’s gonna be very Disclosure or Sam Smith inspired. We’re recording a new EP completely, it’s gonna be a bit heavier than what I used to do…. an EP dedicated to my life in Poland, as an outsider. It’s about the struggle of being an individual, doing something you love, when people think you’re crazy, chasing you’re dream. So there’s this song were just working on and there’s gonna be a new music video for this it’s actually gonna be filmed where I grew up, by the lake. It’s gonna be called ‘One Day’ it relates to this idea of ‘one day I'm gonna… ‘. I think it could be something really personal, and I hope to inspire people with this. If it works out well, it will be the most significant work of my life. With illustration, I do put personal feelings into it but it’s not that obvious, with music I'm always kind of naked, emotionally and that’s what I like about music. I really can release that emotion. I want to share my feelings with everyone around me.
LC You’re inspired by the eighties pop scene. Any particular favourites?
AD Yeah I like Madonna, and also the Blitz Kids, this kind of underground disco style, and not so much punk but new romantic, but I wouldn’t say there’s one specific person from that era. What I like about it is people were innovative they didn't copy each other, the main idea at that time was individualism and I love the concept of the individual. That’s the beauty of the 80s thing. Even if it was really cheesy and the outcome wasn't so great, I love the guts.
LC So we’ve spoken about a lot of your goals but where do you see yourself in 5 years? What is ‘One Day’, is it a destination, will it stop or just keep going?
AD ‘One Day’ is definitely a tour…. If I can play live and to be moving around, like London to Paris to New York. I love travelling and I don’t get tired by it. I definitely see myself on the road whether for exhibitions or concerts. And to have an apartment in New York is a huge dream. I don’t like to be in one place. My ultimate goal is to keep my freelance freedom; to depend on someone else drains your creativity. I’d like to avoid structure.
The World Goes On, 2012
(all images are Adriana's of course)