Mateusz Napieralski (also known as Gust of Wind) works from a studio in London, where he explores the relationship between the handmade and the digital. Tribal Cumulus explores the unknown powers of mystic rituals, where humans and nature merge during ceremonial, hypnotic trances. His bold colours and textures show the powerful energy that is generated but can’t be seen by the human eye. Real gold leaf is used as highlights throughout the illustration.
How did you put your illustration together?
I wanted to create an abstract composition capturing the invisible energies created during mystical rituals and dances. I started with sketches of forms, textures and abstract shapes, which I then collage together. I then scanned in my original sketch and carried on with the composition in Illustrator. I like how much freedom digitalizing my sketches gives me. I love playing with scale, movement and placement of all the shapes. Once I was happy with the layout I started applying colour; experimenting with colour palettes is a very enjoyable part of the process for me. Although it’s also quite dangerous, because I end up with many different options and can’t decide which one I like the most!
What attracted you to the open brief?
I’ve been a big fan of Amelia’s Magazine for good few years and contributed some editorial work in the past. I think the open briefs are such great opportunities for young designers and illustrators to test and develop their skills. This particular brief was very special, because it is such a broad, open topic, which could be interpreted in so many ways, especially when you think of all the different artists involved and their approaches. I also loved the idea of seeing my work printed in gold, because I have never had a chance to experiment with gold leaf printing techniques.
Your day job involves motion design, how does this feed into your graphic design and illustration work?
I always enjoyed working across different disciplines and mediums, and motion graphics and animation have been present in my work for the past 4 years or so. I think it also gives me that edge to think about my illustration work in different ways and think how the characters and forms I create could work in terms of movement. I think there is also this flowy, smooth feel to my character design and composition, which I guess also comes from the moving image side of things. I guess being able to animate also makes my work a little bit more relevant, as clients are now moving faster into moving image based mediums, and it’s definitely an exciting time for illustrators – everyone loves seeing their work come to life through animation!
You are a member of Just Us Collective – who is in your collective and what have you been up together?
Just Us Collective was established quite a few years ago to promote up and coming talent of designers/illustrators and makers that are in full time education (usually in their final year of studies). I became a member during my final year of studies with about 30 others from around the country, working across various disciplines. Since joining Just Us I took part in a group show which was held at Beach London, and I also pitched some illustrations for an online stationary shop.
How much has your Polish background influenced the way that you create? and in what way?
I can certainly say that my style and thinking about illustration has been influenced by being exposed as a kid to some beautiful Polish illustrations and Polish poster design. I am in love with the bold graphic shapes of Polish folk art and I guess this comes across in my work as well since the shapes and forms I work with are usually quite bold and have that cut-out feel which is quite Polish.
What other projects have you worked on lately? Can you share some favourites?
I’m currently working on an illustrated fairytale about a Polish Mermaid, which is quite exciting as this is a purely illustration based project, which I haven’t done in a while. The final outcome will be a little illustrated fairytale zine. I’ve also been busy with making some santa-lovers to start feeling a little bit more Christmasy. I’m also working on a little branding project, but it’s still early stages, so stay tuned for more on that.
Please share with us any plans you have for Gust of Wind in the coming year…
I’m currently trying to develop my style and apply it to even more mediums, for instance I would like to look at product design and see how my work could translate in that area. I want to carry on working for various clients and see where Gust of Wind takes me. I’d like to experiment more with moving image, I think it would be great to have some bigger projects to work on. I love identity and branding, I think I would like to find an opportunity to create some playful, bold illustration led identity project. That would be a dream!
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