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Popular artist, Roman Klonek first fell in love with art when he was only four years old. Like many young children, he developed a fascination with cartoon characters. His heroes were the duo “Lolek & Bolek” and “Nu Pogody”, the Polish wolf and rabbit counterpart to the United States’ famous “Tom & Jerry” cartoon. Unlike most children, however, this love of cartoons didn’t stop at comic books and television programs- Roman wanted to create his own.
Around the ages of 10 and 12, Roman’s open-mindedness allowed him to push past insecurities and continue to practice drawing. While other children began to quit their artwork due to self-consciousness over fear of the art lacking naturalistic qualities, Roman continued onward.
“Somehow I ignored this [fear] and never lost my interest or desire for drawing even when it looked ‘wrong’. I was always thrilled over cartoons and found that it’s a great thing when you just realize you can create your own worlds and stories with only a few strokes,” Klonek explained about the moment he realized he loved art.
Today, Klonek is a popular artist specializing in woodblock printing. His work is heavily influenced by the cartoons he has admired since childhood, mixing in modern themes and messages to produce a whimsical feeling. The 49-year-old is originally from Poland but now resides in Dusseldorf, Germany.
A Day in the Life of an Artist
Klonek’s morning starts simply: he works his way through two cups of coffee while perusing the daily newspaper then rides his bike to the art studio. Once there he quickly begins working; a rotation between the computer for design work, cutting, and printing stations. He likes to keep a consistent schedule each day.
He said he typically doesn’t begin to work with a specific destination in mind for his art. He actually clears his mind of all thoughts and lets his hand go as it pleases, driven by his subconscious. Klonek finds his way into a flow or a “melody within the lines of the drawing” and can later reflect upon the drawings and extract the segments he wishes to further develop.
Does this popular artist ever get in a creative rut? Absolutely. In these moments, Klonek says he turns to doodling. Sometimes up to five times a day he’ll begin to mindlessly draw. While most of these drawings are never built upon, Klonek says it’s impossible for him not to find an idea worth pursuing after these sessions, or at the very least feeling as though his mind has been reset to continue working.
Woodblock printing is Klonek’s medium of choice. This practice dates back to 9th century China but has evolved over time and with the help of several different countries. The basics of woodblock printing involve creating a design with lead pencil (or with computer software and printed) and transferring it onto a block of wood using a burnisher machine.
Of his love for the practice of woodblock printing, Klonek says, “It’s simply the feeling of the material. I love the smell, the manner in which the blade runs through the surface, and the sound when the splinters break out.”
Beyond the art of cartoons, he said his foundational inspiration for art comes from his father, the world of Walt Disney, the Muppets, Tintin, and Gary Larson among others. Additionally, he draws inspiration from musical artists. Popular artists and bands like AC/DC, Metallica, the Beastie Boys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers help him find relaxation and a renewed sense of curiosity through sound. These visual and musical influences are evident in Klonek’s work. Bold color, fantasy, and unique storytelling draw readers into his world.
Collaboration With Paperwallet
Paperwallet founder, Elad first met Roman Klonek at one of his art shows in New York City in 2011. After a long chat, he was invited to design his first Paperwallet! Klonek said he was incredibly excited to design art for wallets- a first for his career. He wasn’t inspired by any one direction, he simply wanted to represent the journey of his thoughts.
“Art can help us understand that the world is not always just as we see it. Another world is possible. I think “strangeness” is a good word for my art. Even if strangeness generates fear, it might be good to come a little closer. Strange or different does not always mean evil.”