Famed around the world for his fantastical illustrative paintings, the Insider puts artist Jakub Różalski under interrogation.
Describe the worlds you paint…
Importantly, they’re not fantasy worlds, rather an alternate history fused with diesel-punk.
Not solely though, right?
Correct. I’m working on a dark world for a graphic novel titled The Cursed Knight.
Think of werewolves and a demonic Teutonic Order.
Where did it all begin for you?
From an early age I was drawing my own worlds, so the style I have has been developed over the course of my whole life.
The characters you paint speak of strength, defiance, fearlessness and pride…
Totally. My paintings are an escape from our often disappointing world and the heroes in my work are what I’d like to see if this planet was a better place.
Your work is deeply influenced by history…
History is my passion. I’m fascinated by antiquity, the Middle Ages and the great wars.
And Polish history, clearly.
Yes. In my 1920+ series I wanted something more personal and original so I chose the history of my country as a background, specifically the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920.
What interested you about that…
The fact that it’s one of most important landmarks in European (and world) history, yet it remains curiously unknown.
The hand of the 19th century masters is very evident in your work. Beyond them, where else do you seek inspiration?
Things from my childhood and teens, so movies like Alien, The Thing, Seven Samurai, Blade Runner, The Deluge and so on. Present cinema does nothing for me.
Anything else from your formative years?
I grew up in the countryside – a real village. I think you can tell that by my paintings and their general theme.
Is there anything your work mirrors?
The things I paint reflect my personality, what I love and everything I’m afraid of.
They’re quite suitable to these current wild, scary times!
The pandemic will turn the world upside down. It can be compared to a war, so in this context, yeah, my work reflects the fears we face.
How should we view your work?
That’s not something I think about! Build your own story around it. I create my art for myself, not for others!
What’s the magic of your work?
No idea! It’s sincere and personal I hope, and it leaves a lot of space for interpretation and the imagination. But I really don’t know – ask my fans!
Are you ready for lockdown!
A few years ago I fulfilled my dream of living in the woods high up in the mountains so I’m well prepared.
So quarantine: what do you have…
A woman I love, animals, my own orchard and the internet.
What MUST you have to work?
Music, definitely music. Other than that, my own ‘force field’.
You’re a time traveler for a day – where are you headed?
Ancient Egypt or Greece. Capital cities. I’d walk around just admiring the architecture and diversity of the world.
Your called Mr. Werewolf – why!
Well, I have lycanthropy…
Your workspace is…
A cozy corner in a wooden house surrounded by nature.
A film set in one of the worlds that I paint. There’s been some interest from Hollywood, but nothing final.
For more on Jakub and his work, see: jrozalski.com