An interview with one of our favourite artists, Kasia Jacquot from Laikonik - creator of our much-loved and very popular Once-a-Year Books, hand-printed wrapping paper and gift cards. Thank you Kasia for your wonderful and inspiring responses to our questions!
Your designs are so beautifully intricate but retain a sense of playfulness and spontaneity. How does a design come into being? Does it begin with some dreamy doodling or are the designs more carefully constructed? Thank you! My designs nearly always begin with some kind of flower. A center and several petals coming off in different directions. I am always pulled towards symmetry so whatever I draw on the left will be repeated on the right. Constant repetition of leaves, flowers, stems, swirly lines and circles. This kind of drawing is very meditative for me and what I find as I draw is that my eye moves between the detail and the overall design and I am always pulled to the place on the page where balance is required. So I guess for me it is about achieving visual balance through the use of floral patterns. I am also greatly inspired by construction, I studied architecture and briefly worked as a draftsperson. The aspect of order and symmetry, and objects belonging in certain places is part of my process. Then conversely I enjoy tipping that neatness on its head by doing messy screen printing with uneven edges, smudges and fingerprints. I like my printed fabrics to be finished off with rough edges and to be left unironed. In a sense this messiness is also a balance point of the symmetry and neatness. When did you first begin paper cutting and what first inspired you? In Poland paper cutting is everywhere. We used to do it as kids and it featured heavily in common folk art, such as a wall decoration in someone’s home. During religious festivals paper cutting was also used to decorate walls of homes or to make decorations for Christmas trees. It’s been part of my life since I can remember and I really enjoy the quietness of the process and also the joyful surprise I get when I open the folded up and cut up paper to reveal a beautiful design full of (of course) symmetry! Do you have any Polish heritage or did the inspiration come from a love of Polish folk art? I was born in Poland and left at the age of 11 with my mother due to economical and political instability. For most of my early childhood I lived in a small village where most of my family is from. This was a very traditional village where all the religious festivals were followed with great fanfare, strict tradition and that joyful expression of Eastern European culture. So that time in my life I was immersed in vivid colour, flowers, elaborately decorated churches, folk costumes and painted designs everywhere. Eastern Europeans love to decorate! How do you use your creativity with your own children? Do you have a favourite craft activity to do with them? For the most part we love to make our own things out of cardboard which we usually then decorate. My kids love doing this and especially if I am sat down on the floor with them with the glue and scissors. We collect old cardboard boxes and make little houses, towns, robots, vehicles. I will often decorate a little cardboard house with some floral patterns or fabric. We have built villages which we populated with plastic animals and Lego people. We once made a night city for fairies which we set up on the dining table. We put potted plants in between the cardboard houses. Then we put little tea lights in between everywhere and I lit them and we turned off all the house lights and we went to magic land! It was so beautiful! I just love doing this and it’s a good thing my kids love doing it too because I’m not very good at sitting down watching a movie with them or playing board games! The Once-A-Year books are very special. How did they come about? Yes they are very special to me as well. Despite the fact that I get bored of certain designs eventually and move on with products these books have remained very close to my heart. When my daughter Isabelle was born I, like most parents, set about photographing every move she made from day 1 and creating a stunning photo album. This did not last long and when my son Stanley was born 14 months later the photo album idea was shelved! I think this happens in most households no? I wanted to keep a record of my children growing up though and I wanted it done simply and in my own personal way. I did not like any of the baby books available. So I made the Once-A-Year Books. What everyone appreciates about them most is exactly what was important to me; and that was that it’s simple and you get to choose what you write each year about your child. There were no specific details to fill in just a small page with lines on the back of each photo page. But what you get in the end is a wonderful story of your child. It was also this idea of telling a story of someone’s life that was so important to me. We don’t realise that it’s easier than we think to write someone’s story. Just a few lines each year will gather together to build a picture of someone. Isabelle is now 7 and a half and I love seeing her book and how she has changed since 2004. I noticed on your blog that you do have exhibitions of your hemp paintings. Are the paintings something you do often? The wall hangings are something I have started doing just over a year ago. Working as an artist is something I love to do and Hemp is very important in my business and in my life. I am a member of the NSW Industrial Hemp Association and using Hemp in my work is a way to continually promote this ecologically sustainable crop. I paint as often as I can, not as often as I would like! The painting is another way for me to express the symmetrical designs that I love but through a different medium than drawing or paper cutting and screen printing. It’s very soothing. I am about to take part in an art show in Marrickville, Sydney at the end of July and then I’m taking part in a joint exhibition in Seaforth in Sydney in August. So I am very happy to have lots of work ahead of me and I will be blogging about both those events soon. Do you have plans for new Laikonik products in the future? Always! Haha! The creative brain never stops. I have just made some samples of screen printed table linens and cushions, they are on my blog and will be in my online shop soon as one-off’s. Table linen is another thing that is in my heart from my childhood. A beautifully set table with a crisp table cloth is what I remember from every Easter, Christmas, All Saints Day etc. I’m sure my love of table linens is that link back to my childhood in Poland. But also I want to bring more hemp products into my business and use Laikonik as a vehicle to tell people about the amazing health and ecologically sustainable properties that Hemp comes with. Also I love screen printing so bringing out a fabric range gives me the opportunity to put my designs onto another surface.