Gleeful kitties wrapped up in blossoms, bears playing guitar, delicate leaves dappled with busy little bees, and always illustrated in speckled greys and jewel tones. Joanna Świrska's work has a beautiful grace and fluid aesthetic that perfectly emulates the natural world in which she is so enthralled by. Her work is special; it's clear that what inspires her is fully incorporated into her artistry; you can see the joy and love that is the foundation of her process. In this interview with Joanna, she talks more about how she got started and where she hopes to go.
What is your artistic background? What are your first creative memories?
Drawing has always been a part of my life. I'm pretty sure that I've learned to draw prior to walking and speaking! Painting, as a profession, was in my head since I can remember and my mum cheered on it, so she had no doubts in sending me to the art school. I still do paint, but now on humans, haha. The specialization I chose in school, jewelry, has taught me to pay attention to details. I still believe this craft is much more difficult than tattooing. I was painting at school, at private lessons and taught it myself at home, I had no restraint – a day without painting was a day lost!
How did you get into tattooing? Why is it something you are passionate about?
I took on my tattooing adventure in 2013 when I tried to find studios in my city to start an apprenticeship. But...I quickly gave up being a trainee – I didn't want to only watch others tattooing. Well, I was not a humble student...For some time I was working from home and doing guest spots and later was employed by several studios. I finally opened my own studio: "NASZA – Przestrzen Kosmiczna", which translates to "Our Cosmic Space", where a whole bunch of talented tattoo artists work. I learned that apart from tattooing I enjoy arranging the interiors for creative spaces and managing others' work and events.
What inspires your work? What artists, tattooers or not, are your heroes?
I turn to nature, I find there everything I need. It is good, unsurpassed, perfect, delicate and sometimes brutal. In it you can find everything, I find it and translate it to the skin. I am inspired by tribal rituals and slavic traditions, returning to the roots. I have many "tattoo heroes", not only because of their work, but also the process of creation, the way they understand the term "tattoo" and what stands behind it.
What is your philosophy behind creating art, and tattooing? What do you think is the responsibility of the artist?
My art is bold and positive – I can relate to it. I believe that it is much easier to introduce a gloomy mood into art than to bring happiness with it. This translates well into us as a society. We like to find the causes for sadness and put them above what's good. I want to bring satisfaction and smiles to people. I prefer my tattoos not to have a deep meaning, rather than a meaning that would bring people down.
Can you tell us about the tattoo community in Poland? What makes it special or different from other places?
I can certainly say that Polish tattoo artists are among the most talented and progressive. I am glad that I can develop among them and raise my bar as well, this does good for my art. For sure we have irreplaceable graphic designers and illustration artists. And what makes Polish tattoo artists so special? Well, I think that Poland is still a difficult country to grow up and succeed. If someone wants to be really good at something, they must learn it for a very long time, honestly and consistently, and the result is an extremely high quality. We can compare to other countries, where you do not have to do much to live on a sufficiently good level, we can confidently say that we are at the forefront of the world tattoo scene.
What do you do when you’re not tattooing? What do you wish you had more time for? What is your favorite place on planet Earth?
I do tons of things. At the moment, I'm planning another trip, this time in a campervan to Scandinavia to explore the beautiful Sweden and Norway and by the way do some tattoos in the wilderness. I also make some natural cosmetics and recently I got interested in ceramics. My boyfriend carves in wood and resin and we try to combine our passions. I design, and he puts my designs in resin, which in combination with wood form a variety of decorative and functional forms. I'm also passionate about mountains and trekking. In my spare time I plan routes and disappear for a few days wandering from one mountain hostel to another. It's my form of meditation and straightening my thoughts, it allows me to tame my inner demons. My life is very successful and at this moment I have time for everything I want to do. Me and my boyfriend plan to live in the Polish mountains of Karkonosze, where we can create our cozy settlement.