A day with illustrator Eva Macekova
Overlooking the famous crawling babies on the radio tower in Prague’s Žižkov neighborhood, we talked with Eva about her work, childhood memories and illustration.
“Ha, it’s not always been like that”, Eva responds to the question if she always liked books. “Actually when I was a kid, I was ripping pages out of all the children’s books at home. I quite enjoyed it! Every time my dad saw me anywhere close to the bookshelf he would put the rare books on the highest shelf so I couldn’t reach them. When I was a little older, I was secretly stealing the books, trying to complete them with my pen. What can I say, I was a perky child.”
Growing up, Eva Macekova spent her days pacing through the hilly landscape of central Slovakia. Her interest in arts probably came from her mother, a self-taught painter and braider. “My parents always supported me in everything and gave me a lot of freedom. When I was in an elementary school I already knew I wanted to do something with design later in life. The only non-creative occupation I considered at that time was becoming a surgeon. But I don’t think that would’ve ended up well”, Eva recalls laughing.
She began studying textile manufacturing in high school with a focus on pre-industrial methods. “I did 4 years of braiding, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. My mom had a small fashion firm so I grew up in that environment. I always liked drawing but I just didn’t have the courage to apply for an art school and study illustration because I didn’t know anything about bookmaking. My dream was to study textile design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava but my first two attempts didn’t work out. The third year, though, I applied to UMPRUM in Prague and was admitted. All my teachers were recommending the school in Prague anyway, plus I really liked the city, so I went to study textile design there. After three years I did one-year internship in the illustration studio and just never came back.”
12 Hours with Oscar
In her graduation year, Eva made the book 12 hodin s Oskarem (12 Hours with Oscar). Its style is often compared to the retro-graphic style of the French illustrator Blexbolex. “Before 12 Hours with Oscar, I was making really wild stuff. The chance that any of that would get published was really slim. But then my graduation year came and I had to come up with the final project, so I told myself ‘let’s make a real book’ that I could actually offer to a publisher.”
Her plan succeeded and the book got published by the French publisher Seuil Jeunesse and the Czech publishing house Baobab. “I tried to make it as simple as possible and looked for inspiration in books I liked as a child. It was also the first time I really worked on a computer. For about half a year I was just looking for the right visual style, testing different things. It was fun because I really enjoy learning new techniques. It is definitely my biggest achievement so far, considering I did it while graduating!”
Eva finds artists such as Egon Schiele, Alison Schulnik, and Josef Bolf to be a big inspiration for her work. “It depends on what I am working on though, sometimes it can be anything — curtains in the bathroom, mess in a room, conversation in a tram or music and dreams. Then the images just start to pop up in my head. When I draw them, usually at night, it all suddenly comes together. But it also depends on the technique I use. Making airbrushes, for instance, requires a lot of preparation so I have to make tons of sketches before I start making them. At first, I was afraid I would lose my punk side in all the meticulous preparations but then I found a way to enjoy the preparation and also preserve the punk in me. Now, when I am cleaning my airbrush pistol I feel like a man polishing his car on a Sunday afternoon.”
Eva’s artworks are often as dark as the artists that inspire her. “I do have a dark side and I feel it growing. My dream is to become a member of art groups like Le Dernier Cri or UDA one day. I’m drawn to their themes, subject matter, unrestrainedness, and violence. For now, though, I am just content going to bed with a sense of having simple done something that day and dream about swimming with the blue whale in orbit!”
If you are interested in work of Eva Macekova, take a look in our shop www.boycottbooks.com