Kajetan Wykurz a.k.a Kajman

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up, and still live in Poland. Here the term "artist" is hardly being connected with stuff I do, which is more a commercial art. In Poland people still connect art with everything, but commercialism. Personally I don't have that problem. For me everything that requires creative thinking is an art of some sorts. I don't recall the moment, when I decided to be an artist. I draw since I remember. But of course there were always different approaches to become an artist. Since I love movies I always wanted to be a movie director. Yet I realized, that I would have most artistic freedom  making comics, which is mostly a one person job and creating stuff from your imagination doesn't need any budget.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I graduated art high school and culture/film studies. Fortunately that kind of education was the best to become the comic book artist. I have achieved some artistic skills along with narrative skills.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Disney was always my hero. In my youth I wanted to become an animator at disney studio, but later I realized, that there's not enough creative freedom in that profession. There was also Spielberg who had started my love to movies and storytelling.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I like to draw movie characters fan-art. It relaxes me. Also I love drawing badass girls. Well, who doesn't?

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
Of course it depends on the commission. But most of a time I'm trying to become the character in my mind. It's all about the felling. I strongly believe, that If I don't feel and understand the character, there will be no appeal factor for the audience. I also try to figure out, what's the element of an idea, that really resonates with me, and work on the project from that particular point.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
That's the tricky one. The most fun is creating a rough sketch, but it is also the hardest one, cause it needs lots of focus. The easier it gets, the least fun it brings. If I'm doing something mechanically it bores me pretty quickly.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
I'm currently working at the publishing studio, so my typical day would be spending part of a day at the office and the rest of it at home, making commissions and my personal projects. I prefer to work alone, but my studio colleagues are also artists and a very creative people, so there's kind of a healthy competition between us, that challenge us to be better at what we do. Also it teaches us how to work as a team. Working at home however brings less distraction, so I can really focus on what I want to tell and how to express it with my work.

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
There are so many... I try to find and follow artists I can feel strong artistic connection with. I regard some of them as my sensei masters :) It's important to have this understanding at the basic level, because then you can really grow with what you do. There will be much less misleadings. Of course you can admire everyone's work, but who you are an what you do is a very personal thing. And with a lead with an artist who has similar approach to art you can truly improve with your own artistic life.

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I'm still a beginner. What I post online is mostly my free time drawings. I've never worked for big studios or publishings. But my current job is strongly connected with the Lego company. We make activity and story books based on the Lego brand. In case of my personal projects: I make drawings and partly colors to a webcomic, called "The Portal". We've just started to work on a second chapter. 

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
My goal is to have as much freedom at what I do as possible. I'm trying to build a career that will eventually create a trademark out of my name. I know it's difficult and takes lots of time and effort, but I discovered that I'm not very happy working under someone's direction :)

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
As I mentioned earlier, I prefer freelancing. I consider myself as a quite disciplined person, but only when it comes to work on my own terms. I really like to set up my own daily schedule. And even though I'm working at the company, I'm still trying to compose my free time and my work time.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
First of all it cannot be forced. Sometimes people trying so hard to get out of creative block, that they actually close themselves even more. I would suggest to do something relaxing and opposite to drawing. Take a walk, do your laundry, and if that doesn't help, then try to surprise yourself with what you wanna do. Every fresh thought and action motivates your brain cells to think creatively. Art-block happens to me all the time and it usually takes some time to bring back that fresh thinking. Then I just start to work on something random, or something that doesn't need my strong focus. After a while I get the flow and then its even hard to stop that creative thinking :)

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I think it has to come naturally. You just draw and draw, and then suddenly it just clicks. You can also think about whether You want to be a storyteller or do you prefer focusing on characters and design. It will all come in time. Or You can just challenge yourself in many departments. Maybe You can do all of it.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
It depends. Sometimes it's good to develop many styles. Then it's easier to get a job and just fit in. On the other hand it sends the message to the employer: this guy will draw whatever and however we want to. And then even if you want to develop some specific style, you'll probably would have to be more flexible and compromised in order to maintain a job. So if you can develop one specific style and market it really well, the employers will come to you when they need that style, and will automatically connect it with your name, which is helpful when you want your name to be your trademark. So it all depends on where you want your career to go. 

If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
I think "Understanding comics" by Scott McCloud, cause it's not only explaining in very detailed and almost philosophical way the meaning of comic medium, but it's generally about visual storytelling and ways of communicating with a viewer.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I love to follow artists that not only create new contents, but also trying to be helpful for the other artists. Guys like Jake Parker, Stephen Silver or Aaron Blaise make some great videos about how they approach their artistic life. They inspire me to keep my passion for art alive and at the same time, they also help me to improve my artistic skills. 

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I think the most probable way is the synergy between hand drawn and 3d animation. It already happens with great examples like Disney's "Paperman" and "Feast" shorts. The next level would be adapting this technique to feature films. There were rumors that disney's "Moana" was gonna be made that way, but as I saw with promos its not gonna happen. Maybe this technology is still to expensive and time consuming. I hope they will usher it anyway some time soon.

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
I think it's a great time for social media and with pages like Kickstarter or Patreon, we as artists can finally have our way around the big companies and corporations, creating what we love and make a living out of it. It of course takes lots of time, hard work and some marketing skills.

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can find my works on Behance ( behance.net/kajman_arts ) and DeviantArt ( kaj-man.deviantart.com ). You can also follow me on Facebook ( facebook.com/KajmanArts ), Tumblr ( kaj-man.tumblr.com ) and Twitter ( twitter.com/KajmanX ). 

Thank you Kajetan :)