PE Typography - Interview with monavx

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Project Educate Typography –
Interview with

During this week of projecteducate there will be some interviews with artists, designers and typographers from dA. This is the second interview of the week. Please enjoy!

This interview proudly presents New York based artist monavx, or Monaux.

His atmospheric and charming illustrations manage to transport bold and warm messages while leaving you in awe. Being a mainly traditional artist, monavx creates imagery that plays with your perception and puts a smile on your face.

You can also find out more on his Homepage, tumblr, twitter and dribble.

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Karl Kwasny. I'm an illustrator/typographer originally from Brisbane, Australia, currently living in Manhattan, New York.


How did you get into art and design?

This seems to be the answer everyone gives, but I've always been interested in it. However, when I was a teenager, I (wrongly) decided that illustration wasn't a realistic career path for me. I didn't think it would be possible to make a living from and I certainly never thought I'd be good enough, so I decided to devote myself to graphic design and typography instead.

When I was fifteen, as a little hobby, I started making Winamp skins. These were all painted digitally in Photoshop. I liked the limitations that the format provided - everything had to fit into a very tiny and constrained template. I still like working with limitations. I think it forces you to come up with inventive solutions that you may not have otherwise considered.

When the time came to go to university, I tried out every course I could think of. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I first studied multimedia at TAFE. After getting a diploma there, I went to various universities. I quite like writing, so I studied journalism and creative writing for a while. I studied film analysis and something called "creative industries," too. The course I ended up settling on, after all of that faffing about, was a bachelor of design at QCA in Brisbane.

In my last year of that course, I felt remorseful that I never gave illustration a proper try. If I didn't, I thought, I would never be truly happy. Despite it seeming almost impossible to me, and despite the fact that my skills were, in my opinion, far behind the pack, I devoted myself to improving, getting work and defining a niche for myself. Today, I am a working illustrator.

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Where do you find inspirations for new works?

This is always a difficult question. I like looking at inspiring art and I take lots of reference photos of illustration, design and typography that I see around the place. This is especially true now that I live in New York. I'm thinking of starting up a blog just for my reference photos, actually.

As someone who works in Traditional Media a lot: how important is the sketching process to you?

Quite important. It's actually the part I enjoy the least and have to put the most effort into. There's always lots of agonising over anatomy and composition and so on. The inking and colouring stages are much more carefree.

What advise would you give someone who wants to get into design, typography or art?

Don't assume that you can't do something just because it's difficult. Your skill level is bound to be far below your taste level for a long time, and it's hard to keep pushing forward despite that. It's important to be passionate about it and to immerse yourself in it, too. Buy art books, typography books, go out and look for nice examples of typography and art in antique book stores. Always take reference photos (this is a much easier task now that camera phones are so common,) and never give up.

Do you think it helps young artists to join online communities?

Definitely! I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am today if not for sites like deviantART and Tumblr. Feedback and criticism is one of the most important things a young artist can receive. In fact, I'm sure that community feedback has helped guide me into the niche I currently work in. I'll try something new, and if it's popular I'll do more of it. If it's not popular, I probably won't. It's actually a very useful barometer for how people in general will feel about your work.

I admire your work with negative space and framing… Where does the fascination about these come from?

I think it's largely to do with my design background. I got most of that stuff drummed into me at university.

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Your works always manage to tell a story, even with only one image.

Thanks! I like the idea of doing that. I'm trying to incorporate that idea into the picture-book I'm working on at the moment.


Can you give us a little insight in the process of creating one of your illustrations?

Pencil sketch, scan and fix up and obvious mistakes in Photoshop, print out at the size I want the final art to be, ink with a lightbox, watercolour, scan and tweak in Photoshop.

Is there any medium or style you haven't tried so far, but would love to play with at some point?

Yes - gouache and oils. I'd love to do gouache work like Mary Blair but I haven't worked out how yet. Oils would be nice to learn, too, and I'm sure I will in a little while.

The Typography in your works is usually hand-lettered. How do you manage to achieve such perfect results by that?

Perfect? I often try to make it look clumsy! Hand-lettering is mostly trial and error. I rule myself guides a lot of the time and, if I want the letter spacing to be TRULY perfect, I'll set some computer type and use the letter positions as guides for my own lettering.


What's your 3 favourite pieces from your own work?

That's a difficult one. I don't think I have favourites. I have certain pieces I'm more proud of than others, but I think I tend to move on after a drawing is finished.

You can also find him here:


Thank you for reading! :heart: :peace:

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iAmAneleBiscarra's avatar
where is this guy now? i've always liked his work...