Artist Spotlight: Karol Banach

Pushing the boundaries of creative reality.

Karol Banach is a Poland-based illustrator with a love of patterns, whimsical characters, organic shapes, and surreal, imagined worlds. While he tells us that his earliest childhood doodles of dinosaurs and cars were simple, his work today conveys complex, richly detailed scenes that make us smile and think. His pieces grace book illustrations, posters, and murals, and his clients include major international companies, from Ikea to American Express, The Washington Post, and Samsung.

Image source: Behance.

Hi Karol, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?

I’ve been in the illustration game since 2014, when I was in my second or third year at University of Nicolai Copernicus. But I’ve drawn my whole life. As a kid it was dinosaurs and cars, simple things. As a teenager, I mixed everything on the paper or canvas.

How would you describe your style?

I think my style constantly changes, so it’s hard for me to describe it. I’m obsessed with patterns, floral-like shapes, and sometimes geometric-oriented compositions. I like to experiment, trying new color palettes and new techniques of drawing characters, mixing it up. Almost everything looks interesting to me.

Image source: Behance.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere! Organic shapes and people are my biggest inspiration. I like to draw ideas in my sketchbook, and when a commission arrives, I look through the sketchbook for something that inspires me. I have the best ideas early in the morning, when my wife and dog are still sleeping.

During sketching, I draw in silence. But when I’m working on the computer, I need to play some music or a podcast.

What music do you listen to while working?

That’s a tricky question because I love all genres. Today I listened to old favorites, like Metallica’s “Orion.” This track gives me so much energy.

Image souce: Behance.

We’re talking about creative reality on the blog this summer. How did you approach this concept in the piece you created for us? And how does creative reality feature in your other work?

I think the idea of creative reality is really strong in my work. Drawing hyper-realistic images was essential in the schools I attended, but I wasn’t so great at drawing that way. So, I found myself searching for my natural creative language.

In my piece for Adobe, I wanted to create a fantasy world with creative freedom. My goal was to give people happiness, a smile on the face. The idea of an imaginative new world is a perfect place to be as an illustrator.

I often draw unreal characters and objects, so the concept of creative fantasy is significant in my projects. I search for new colors, patterns, and techniques, which Adobe Photoshop offers. The diverse library that Adobe Stock provides was helpful to create an alternative reality with a psychedelic twist.

What do you like most about working with Adobe Stock?

Definitely it is the wide range of materials Adobe Stock provides, but also a simple, clear interface which is easy to use, even for a not-so-techy guy like me.

Image courtesy of Karol Banach.

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome as a designer and illustrator?

I wish I could tell a dramatic story with a happy ending, but in this case my career challenges were similar to other illustrators, graphic designers, and every person who makes “art.”

The lack of self-confidence in your own work is the thing which makes us not sure about what we are doing and if it’s worth it. By nature I’m rather a calm person, so the beginning of my illustrating career was pretty rough. But my family and friends helped me to believe in myself.

What has been your favorite project to date?

I think I have the most happiness and fun with the projects that involve book illustrations or mural designs. It’s hard for me to pick one.

Image source: Behance.

What are you excited to work on in the next year or so?

I wish I could transfer my characters and worlds into a 3D world of graphics or, even better, make them in a real-world setting, as figures and 3D models. That would be great. I would love to collaborate with someone to make this real.

3D animation with crazy colors, shapes, patterns, short GIFs, short movies, any image that lives. I don’t have the skills to make them yet, but I love to watch these.

Thank you to Karol for sharing the inside story on how he gets inspired and what he loves about creating. We can’t wait to see what he creates in the future. For more of Karol’s work, check out his portfolio on Behance, and follow him on Instagram.