INTERVIEW WITH AN ARTIST: Kacper Gilka on Iconography, Insects and Dark Inspiration

Working in a variety of media spanning shirts, books and even skin, Kacper Gilka exemplifies what it means to be versatile in your creativity. His work draws on the natural and spiritual world, resulting in art that exposes the magic of the human condition. The Polish artist is often in demand from clients spanning novelists to metal bands who want his designs as the face of their brand.

Kacper has been developing his skills since he was just a young boy, making his current portfolio a diverse and exciting exploration of his world view.

We talked to Kacper to find out more about how he became the artist he is today.

Kirstie: How did you get into art?

Kacper: It’s a quite funny story. When I was a kid there was a TV show for kids and there was something like a “tutorial” or “how to draw” part. I have no idea what this show was called but I remember a guy who was drawing awesome things (awesome for 6-8 year old kid). I realised I want to have skills like him and the journey started.

Kirstie: Who were your earliest influences?

Kacper: I think mostly guys making some cartoon artwork like Masters of the Universe, Spiderman, Batman and all the superhero stuff, as well as magazines like Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt.

Kirstie: Who are your predominant influences now?

I like a lot of artists. I like tattoos made by Grindesign, totally adore art of Godmachine, Too Many Skulls and I definitely love illustrations made by Riccardo Federici.

Kirstie: What is your favourite material to work with?

Kacper: Couple of months ago I was using fine-liners, markers like Pigma Micron, or Faber Castell sometimes. But now I’m working in 100% on Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch. I feel that I have more accuracy and precision to make inking details which I love to make.

Kirstie: If you could design the poster for any movie, what would it be? What would your design be like?

Kacper: Can I choose at least two? I am a super fan of old horror movies from 60s to 90s mostly and my main character from childhood till now is Freddy Krueger. Also I am a fan of one and only Wes Craven (R.I.P) and actor Robert Englund who was playing a Freddy for all the time. So it would be A Nightmare on Elm Street and probably the second one would be Candyman, I love this guy too. Norman Bates from Psycho and hundreds more. And it would look like an old style comic poster.

Kirstie: What is the first piece of work you were really proud of?

Kacper: First was probably T-shirt design with some blind guy made for Gorillatype and definitely Perun (I love Slavic culture) made for Tirvall Wear.

Kirstie: How have you changed as an artist since then?

Kacper: When I started drawing for clients it was mostly tattoo designs in pencil. As I said before, I love ink style illustrations and working with bands, brands, magazines basically everyone who is interested in my “art” (don’t like this word, I don’t like be called “artist”, I’m just a guy who loves to draw). For example, I’m talking about details with one of my clients and this gentleman is owner of a Fishermans Store and I will be preparing T-shirt designs with few types of fishes which is awesome!

I think that I’m increasing my skills and I’m trying to be better than I was yesterday so things are changing in that way.

Kirstie: Some for your commissions have been for tattoos. How does designing a piece for a human body differ from a piece using a more conventional platform?

Kacper: It’s of course something different and I have it in my mind that this is going to be tattooed but every single commission is important for me. Generally it doesn’t matter if it going to be cover artwork for a band, T-shirt design, book cover (FINALLY I’ve got a commission for a book cover, it was on my wish list!) or skin.

Kirstie: You often use religious or superstitious iconography in your art. What drew you to this aesthetic?

Kacper: It’s very wide topic for me. I believe in God but not this “thing” which is created by any religion. I believe in source, in connection with universe, with nature, investing your energy every single day in things that are going to make you and others happy and in being a good person for everyone. “My” God doesn’t tell me “you have to live poor to be blessed” or “don’t work with all of those guys from metal bands cause they are in chains of Lucifer or Leviathan or any other demon” (yeah, I believe in other races, demons, dimensions, I’m just open minded).

My “man” upstairs is creator of everything so also the creator of those guys from metal bands and those demons. I’m not a judging anyone (I love to work with bands, those people are very interesting and mostly they are really super cool.) People might to say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but they are doing this all the time, and that’s sad. I respect every single being on this and other planets. So answering the question – there is no problem for me to draw any symbolic things. If anyone feels hurt by those words or my drawings – just don’t watch it, friends, remember we ALWAYS have choice in every single second of our life, and this is amazing.

Kirstie: You blend natural imagery with horror themes. What about the natural world inspires you to create art?

Kacper: I was raised in small town surrounded by lot of forests, there is even our national park in Poland it’s called Bory Tucholskie and I’m from Tuchola. So as you can predict, nature is inspiring me for all the time. I love animals and insects. A couple of years ago I had twenty birdeaters in my house. Soon you’ll see more of these beautiful things in my drawings and illustrations. I love forests. I’m planning to build a house with my fiancé near the forest.

Kirstie: You often post about books that you read. How does literature inspire your work?

Kacper: Yeah I love to read books but now I don’t have too much time for it. Right now I’m reading a book by Vitaliy Gibert, Modelling Future. I’m of course a fan of horrors. I love Gillian Flynn books, amazing writer! Check out Dark Places. Sometimes I love to read some quick books (200 pages is a quick book for me) like Tunnel by Harry Adam Knight. I’ve got some gifts from my love like a collection of Stephen King books so this is my next target. Also I love (I think I’m using this word to often but there is always place to send some “love” energy) to read books which can teach me something like books of T. Harv Eker, Brian Tracy, Joseph Muprhy, Mateusz Grzesiak and other great people.

Kirstie: You’ve recently some artwork inspired by the recent release of IT. What did you think of the movie?

Kacper: Movie was pretty good but it wasn’t something really awesome for me.

Kirstie: What did you think of the way that Pennywise’s design has changed?

Kacper: I really like every version of Pennywise but this one which I’ve started drawing is cool to draw with ink, the shape of his face and hair are really nice to draw with ink.

Kirstie: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Kacper: Keep going. And keep making it every day, check what you really love to draw and start analysing it, the shapes and angles. Never forget about the basics and about practising. It will pay you back in the future. You’ll draw faster without losing quality and you’ll be enjoying every drawing, every commission. Be creators of yourself, your life and your style. Like in the Pantera song “be yourself, by yourself” – that’s a great sentence.

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