Marcin Bondarowicz Portrait photography © copyright by Robert Bondarowicz
An exclusive Interview with Toons Mag Award-winning cartoonist Marcin Bondarowicz.
TM: Explain about yourself in 100 words: (Example: Where are you from? What is your profession? How old are you? Etc.)
Marcin: Based on the principle of not talking too much about myself, but letting others do so, I will try to briefly explain who I am. I was born in 1976 in Starachowice, Poland and I still live in Poland as a freelance artist. I specialize in press illustration collaborating with a wide range of Polish and international magazines and newspapers. I work as a cartoonist, illustrator and graphic designer. I am also a participant, juror, and winner of many international cartoon and press illustration competitions. A wide number of my artworks can be found in private collections in Poland and in foreign countries.
TM: How/where did you learn to draw? How long have you been working as a cartoonist / Artist?
Marcin: I was fascinated with art from my childhood. It is fundamental that I grew up alongside a master. My father, Leszek Bondarowicz, invented individual, unique techniques for creating the icons – religious paintings joined the experience gained in designing bas-reliefs. His works refer to the medieval and early renaissance paintings.
As a little boy, I fell in love with art. After years, this love has become a reciprocal feeling. I am filled with art. As I was watching my father during his work, I knew what I desired to do in the future. Shelves packed with albums of old master’s works, paintings on the walls, the scent of paints and varnishes – these are the memories of my early childhood.
As a child, I drew a lot. Many slides and photographs have remained from that period. From time immemorial, I tried to avoid coincidence – everything had to fit the composition initiated in my head.
Even nowadays, the principle of which the final effect must be the same as the vision sketched by my imagination within remains true. It does not mean that I do not use coincidence. Nonetheless, it is largely controlled by the elaborated adumbrations. My father, due to (also pedagogical) experience in the art-field, used to tell me that at the beginning one has to make work extremely arduous, just to cherish the easiness of creation later on. He was right. As the years passed by, I can see how much effort must be put in self-development and how important monotony is if one wants to achieve satisfying results. I know that childhood is crucial for our future choices. In this stage of life, sensitivity and the need for surrounding oneself with beauty – in every aspect – is elucidated.
Hence, it is not a coincidence that I studied arts. I graduated in painting and graphic design. I was given the rector award for activity in the academic field (Graduated from the Radom Kazimierz Pułaski Polytechnic).
TM: What work do you most enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
Marcin: I love photography and movies. I also deal with photography and short movies. Mainly, however, I am engrossed in the cartoon, press illustration and poster.
I do not want to confine myself to investigating only a single field. I hope that in future I will find the time and enthusiasm to engross in cartoons, traditional illustrations, and CG illustrations. Lately, I have returned to traditional paintings – big formats in acrylic and oil paints. Sometimes I need such a change. It lets me yearn for cartoons and illustration again. I think that working as an illustrator and cartoonist can complement each other or serve as an inspiration to the other. The message is more important than the messenger.
I choose a medium that will suit the theme and idea. I consider cartoons enchanting mainly for the reason that the medium can tell us stories based on humor which is (and should be) understood worldwide. Illustrations are very powerful as well; nonetheless, in a different manner. For they would rather expand the topic, they complement it without being an exact mirror reflection of the text. Such an apparent shift from the main subject attempts to show reality from another perspective. The shape of a tree seen from a bird’s eye view does not resemble the prototype of our primary associations. Multidimensional seeing allows the reader to elevate above to comprehend and perceive much more.
TM: Name three artists/cartoonists you are inspired by? How have they inspired you?
Marcin: There are plenty of Polish and foreign artists whom I value, whose art I admire. We all are particles of the same world and despite living in distant parts; our existence has many similarities and mutual references.
My works refer to the tradition of Polish graphic design which is philosophical, direct, and minimalistic to the borders of abstraction but, at the same time, with the ambition to attract the wider audience. Apart from the whole range of remarkable Polish graphic artists, such as Franciszek Starowiejski, there are several artists who had a particular effect on me, Hieronim Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, and as for the more contemporary ones, I would name Olga Boznańska and ZdzisławBeksiński.
TM: Why did you decide to be an artist / Cartoonist?
Marcin: Everything goes back to business newspapers and business magazines. Paradoxically, I made my debut there as a cartoonist. Firstly, I was charged with a topic. The next step was getting familiar with the notion. I was investigating the matter that was to be expressed. Afterward, I was seeking after the symbols of an optimal mental shortcut.
Before the idea turns into realization, time to search for an accurate metaphor is required. The final stage is the greatest gift to me. When an applicable signal emerges at once, when this flash in my mind and idea of an outline arrive independently, then, work becomes a pure pleasure.
There is no stated date, no specified circumstance. This is a permanent process based on hard work, observation and the quest for an appropriate form to create a self-metaphor – a tale about the deepest meaning in life. The more we try to be serious about what we do, the more ridiculous we appear to be. Then, we become a perfect target for a cartoonist. For nothing happens separately. A keen glance of a cartoonist can find an interesting topic everywhere and will present it in a suitable form just to evoke certain emotions. I do not aim at making the receiver laugh. My goal is to sensitize them. Humour is not the end in itself but it is a way to shift the attention towards the topic.
The shallowness and the infantile nature of the social information conveyed by the mass and electronic media are the subjects of my art. My illustrations refer to the tradition of the Polish school of poster art, a poster art that was philosophical, brief, and economic to the verge of abstraction yet, at the same time, harboring ambitions of a wider social resonance. There are symbolic pictures of an autobiographical and existential character. Autobiography became a shelter and a starting point for my work. But it must be emphasized that the work of my pictures is far from apolitical, but it is not overtly propagandist. Their involvement was often expressed by the use of color contrasts in patches of paint, symbol – by the interpretation of a sign, and by frequent references to the cultural context. The omnipresence of the mass media, and of advertising, brought about by the violent development of the free market has meant that they have taken possession of the visual capacity to create images. The creation of pictures or images stopped being the special preserve of artists and became something done by advertising executives. In today’s world – in an age when traditional patterns are threatened by globalization, when value hierarchies are being blurred by the dominant liberal ideology and when the autonomy and individuality of the artistic message is being undermined by advertisements, billboards, spots, and clips – the individual artist’s manual and craftsmanlike dexterity are in greater than ever demand for me. The painter’s image – “corporeality of Art”- is the counterweight to the stereotype proposed by the media, the counterweight to the virtual reality of the electronic media.
TM: What is your aim in life? Where do you want to see yourself after ten years?
Marcin: I do not want to change anything, I would like to continue to draw, comment reality and be a carrier of truth…
The biography has become both the shelter and the starting point for my works. The meaning of their involvement in commentating on the world around us expressed from the perspective of personal experience and observations. It is encircled within a contrast of a symbol, be that from an interpretation of a common reference sign to the cultural context. Faceless humans “exposed heads”- empty as if they were ready-to-be-filled vessels often appear as the motives of my works. This is the reference to the harassment of the traditional culture with globalism, the depravity of the hierarchy of values through prevailing liberal ideology together with the impairment of the autonomy and artistic message in the name of publicity, billboards, spots, and clips. A human being overwhelmed by the informative hype frequently feels helpless; shed from the quest for the new, they adopt set views, unsteady patterns, and gain questionable commercial values launched by mass media. This is life and the course of events that impose the world’s perception. It is impossible to work and create in isolation. We watch and listen to the same news, we meet people and talk to them. We dream and wake up just to cope with reality. Therefore, I would like to continue to create for myself basing them on my observations.
TM: Recently, we arranged an international cartoon contest and exhibition, and you were one of the winners. What do you think about Women’s Rights? How important is it to you, and why?
Marcin: Cartoon is the worldwide phenomenon uniting cultures through the use of a universal message. This type of art demands unusual quality due to the form and information that it conveys. Therefore it is important that the artists talk exceptionally loud about things important and relevant.
I am very proud of this because I could be part of this great cause. I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the organizer of Toons Mag First International Cartoon Contest 2016 for such an important theme about Woman’s Right. Special thanks go to Arifur Rahman great artist and initiator of this important international event.
This artistic activicompelspel governments and people everywhere to listen, look and face the world’s most pressing problems like Women’s Right.
TM: How can we build a better world in our cartoons?
Marcin: Furthermore, the fact that a significant part of my creations has a political substance, I perceive this function as a heavy responsibility to bear. Even if I have lots of pleasure doing what I’m doing, I have the strong feeling that it’s a duty, that I must use this special sensibility, my freedom of expression and my will to share my opinions and sentiments in a graphic way.
I am always affected by human sabotage and social injustice. It is important to see the truth in order to be its carrier. For despite the vast distances that separate people in the world, I have to be near the reader and give more of myself. A cartoonist’s keen eye will always find an interesting topic and a way to present it to raise certain emotions. Reality will not allow us to be ‘unemployed.’ Politicians always will give us themes for reflection.
Interviewed by Arifur Rahman
Script Editor: Sophie Cheng