Illustration can be a difficult world to navigate, especially as a young creative trying to find their feet. We speak to illustrator Aleksandra Matwiejczyk about her company nonesense-warehouse, how to utilise social media, and how she got to the place she’s at today.
At what point in your life did you want to become an illustrator?
I have never really considered becoming an illustrator. Actually, as a kid, I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up. All my kindergarten friends were grossed out whenever I mentioned this, so finally, peer pressure started to apply.
Eventually, I reconsidered my career prospects. I was a pain in the ass to my school’s career advisor, deep inside, she must have been thinking “damn here goes another productive hour of explaining a 13-year-old that at this age it’s ok not to know how your entire life is going to look like”. When starting high school, I was convinced that I want to study architecture. This one didn’t work out either. Later on I started to have strong feelings for economics (or maybe just disdain for physics). At the moment I am studying Business Management at Queen Mary, University of London.
Coming back to illustration. My mom used to draw and paint quite a lot when I was little, so I think that might have made me conditioned to be interested in the arts. However here’s a thing – I never attended any “proper” art classes and so, I never regarded illustration as a professional career I might want to pursue as a grown-up.
Although throughout my whole 20-year-old-life I have always been artsy. Usually, you draw at kindergarten and later on it kind stops being fun, so people drop it. I didn’t – I kept doodling during boring classes and such. If it wasn’t for my friends, who supported me and told me that my crappy doodles were cool, I probably wouldn’t have started nonsense-warehouse.
As I gained confidence, I submitted my drawings to Rookie Mag. Having my illustrations published for the first time AND being paid for it was completely mind-blowing to me at the time!
Is creativity something that has always come naturally to you?
I like to think that I’m a naturally creative person. Although it seems to be more and more difficult since I turned 20 – I’m an old lady now and fighting creative blocks is an ongoing challenge!
What’s your favourite part of living in London?
Well, I have a love-hate relationship with London, but since I’m supposed to talk about favourite things I’m gonna keep my grumpiness to the minimum. I really like Shoreditch with its indie shops and coffee places (generally, East London is super-cool). Finding those tiny gems in such a big city makes me really happy, whether it’s a stationery shop or a weird art gallery.
I currently live in North-West London and I was complaining a lot that it’s boring, but I’m slowly starting to appreciate it. I have my favourite pizza place here (Sacro Cuore), there’s a nice indie cinema nearby (Lexi) and Queens Park has a tiny zoo with cute rabbits so it’s not that bad.
How do you balance illustration with day-to-day life?
It’s quite difficult to find the time to draw as I have to squeeze study, work and, occasionally, boyfriend into my schedule. In my free time, I either watch Netflix, sleep or draw. Adult life ain’t easy…
We love the little animation on your instagram. How do you tackle learning a new skill?
Aww, thanks! If I’m excited about something I just give it a go straight away. GIFs are way more interesting than regular illustrations – even if it’s a really simple animation. It does take some time to draw each frame, but eventually, it’s all worth it.
Your line work is amazing. What do you use to create your illustrations?
I use Muji pens for the lines and Posca pens for colour. Those are my go-to art supplies.
What’s your favourite, and least favourite thing to draw?
My favourite things to draw are girls and plants. I hate drawing eyes, so usually, I draw them closed, it actually became a part of my drawing style.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start selling their own work?
Do your research well. Don’t spend money on things you’re not so sure about. Go for smaller quantities to test the idea first.
I’ve made quite a lot of mistakes when launching my shop. I got into a start-up programme at my uni, so I got some funds from there. My biggest mistake was investing in Brick Lane market. I wasted so much money and sold nothing, it was quite heart-breaking. I’ve been previously told it’s easy to make a profit there, really naïve of me to just jump at it.
Online marketing is your friend if you’re just starting out. So yeah, today I would have spent my grant differently.
How do you stand out on social media when it is so saturated with content?
To stand out as an artist it’s not just about the art itself, it’s also how often you post and, more importantly, how you present it on social media. For example, Furry Little Peach – she has great photos, knows how to keep it interesting for her followers and thus has a really good engagement. I hope I can find some more time to polish my Instagram!
And finally, what are your plans for the future?
I definitely have to create more illustrations and promote my store a bit. Giveaway is coming soon, so stay tuned!
You can find nonesense-warehouse on instagram here
And her online shop here