The Prolific Illustrator of Alphabetics and All My Animals Shares His Story

From his home in Pulawy, Poland, artist Dawid Ryski puts pen to paper to create stunning album covers, posters, and illustrations. Most recently, his charming and personable paintings were featured All My Animals and Alle Meine Tiere this past autumn. We caught up with Ryski, who also illustrated Alphabetics from Little Gestalten, to find out more about his playful practice.

When did you start drawing?

I have been drawing since my kindergarten years, and I was influenced by an older friend of mine. He drew cars so well, and I come from a long line of firefighters, so I drew firetrucks all the time. In my primary school I was redrawing metal bands logos to my notebook. As soon as I started high school, I got involved with the skateboarding scene and everything related to it: stickers, t-shirts, and the artwork on each deck. I started digging deeper and looking for all the artists who were behind the artwork of my favorite skateboarding companies. I decided to study landscape architecture; I also had the chance to start drawing my first press illustrations, record covers, and posters. That’s when I realized that I had found my calling.

Have you always worked with digital illustrations?

My adventure with computers began rather late—probably in 2006? Before then, I focused mainly on handmade drawing. Punk album covers and flyers don’t need colors…! When I was commissioned to do my first press illustration, I started to discover graphic-design programs and all that they can facilitate. My entire creative process has changed since then.

I begin my projects with a pencil-drawn sketch on paper. Once the draft is finished, I scan the design into Photoshop, wherein I add the colors and all effects. Lately, I have become even more modern: I started using a tablet for drawing. 

For All My Animals, did you conduct any field research or draw from memory?

I approached each animal differently. I tried to make as many sketches. Some of the animals were easier to draw, as I had drawn some if them earlier for other projects. However, the book was the first time I had to draw many of the animals, and I had to work hard to figure out how to represent them in my style. 

Do you have a favorite animal?

In All My Animals, I think the crocodile illustration was my favorite. In reality, dogs are my favorite for sure.

Your illustrations take a number of forms: books, band posters, murals. Do you have any notable or especially memorable commissions?

I can say that one my most interesting projects was Alphabetics. I’m fan of Patrick Conceptión’s work so the working alongside him and his wife was great privilege for me. That commission was a turning point for my career. It happened at the same time when my first son was born, and it was the first book for children that I illustrated. 

What advice would you give to a child hoping to become a professional artist or illustrator?

I certainly don’t feel like a professional artist, and I don’t have a diploma in illustration.

However, I have enjoyed drawing ever since I was a child, and at some point, I started to devote a lot of time to this. I had to use the trial-and-error method to reach perfection. I would say that I am lucky: I do what I love and I can make a living. The only advice that comes to my mind is that dreaming is worth it, and so is being persistent.

Outside of illustration, what are your passions and hobbies?

I don’t know if I can say that my family is my passion or my hobby, but it certainly takes up most of my time. The remaining free time I waste on discovering new music and adding records to my collection.

Apart from of all this, I play drums in two bands: Hidden World and The Feral Trees.

What is your dream commission? With whom would you like to work?

One of them has already come true, I mean illustrating the book for children (or even two of them)

If I had to point another goal it would certainly be another book and cover for a favorite band/label (for example sub pop records).

Images © Dawid Ryski

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Author: nathan

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