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Featured Artist Interview - Maciej Hajnrich

Maciej Hajnrich aka Valp is a graphic designer, illustrator and art director.

Born in 1981, living and working in Katowice, Poland. Self-taught and full-time freelance artist with five years of experience in print and webdesign. Valp has established himself as a creative digital artist - after years of experimenting and playing with imagination he has build his own style with high attention to details, colours and textures. Graphic design for Valp always was something more than just a profession.

During last two years of his full-time freelance work he was commissioned by Back Row Productions, Platige Image, Weinsten Company, Warner Music Poland, Armada Skis to name a few. Valp designed illustrations for such a great musical Pricilla - Queen of the Desert; he was also a judge for iStockphoto's Battle Royale and his work has been widely published.

Valp is also a member of Keystone Design Union and Depthcore digital arts community.

TAXI>>Hello Maciej, thank you for being in the Front Seat with us! You also go by the name Valp Nietylko - what does it mean, and why did you adopt it?

Maciej>> Hello! I'm glad to be here and appreciate your invitation - it's a big honor for me.

The "Valp Nietylko" name has a funny story. I started my online portfolio under the Nietylko.net address around 6 years ago. "Nie tylko" means "not only" in Polish which was something I was identifying with at that time. I mean diversity, flexibility and spontaneous thinking - not only one style, not only one technique and so on.

But last year I decided to run with Valp now, instead of the old name. I found it will be easier to pronounce (especially for people abroad Poland) and remember.

TAXI>>You call your foray into graphic designing 'a big fascination and finally a profession' - it seems that you're currently living out your dream! What is it about designing that you love?

Maciej>> That's true, I feel lucky with this situation and I'm very thankful for the opportunity I was given. In my opinion, the most interesting thing in graphic design is... designing. I mean the process of raising ideas and getting them alive; plus the whole new techniques and software possibilities that are outstanding nowadays and can bring such various effects. Obviously it's not that easy if you are working with briefs, demanding clients and so on but I'm thinking just about process.

I believe contemporary graphic design, including (digital) illustration connects commerce and art in a very good way of thinking. I guess lot of people consider that as a defect but it isn't. Whole industry and daily viewers need and appreciate individualism and artistry on their walls, in magazines, outdoor ads or on web. For me creating has no boundaries, no limits and that's why I like to say I'm playing with imagination. And I do believe it's good way to stay unique and fresh.

TAXI>>You've a huge and vastly different clientele. Which job was your favourite, and who would your dream client be?

Maciej>> Well I've never been thinking about a dream client as some particular brand or person. I avoid boring or underestimated projects, so every project I'm involved in is interesting and usually the recent stuff is my favourite one. I was working with print and web but recently did some layout works for a Knorr tv ad - working for motion was something absolutely new for me and very exciting. I also enjoyed Priscilla - Queen of the Desert illustration a lot.

I felt that the project was made especial for me and I could show my skills and style in 100%.

Besides that I love Trust the Future, Last Supper, Winter Espionage, theFuel, A Touch of Me or released in 2006 P7 and Questlove illustration because these pieces gained a lot of exposure and positive comments which was a big surprise for me at that time.

And finally, my dream client would be someone from entertainment, definitely. Music, cinema, tv, fashion, food, video games - I like these industries so why not. I would like to create some official celebrity artwork for example, so wish me luck.

TAXI>>A lot of details, colours and textures are incorporated in your works, which have been described as a 'merging of chaos and colour', and exploding with colours and imagination'. What have you been inspired by?

Maciej>> These descriptions are marvelous and says a lot about my piece of art. The truth is I'm keen on playing with imagination and want to stretch viewers brain with all these details.

Currently I'm fascinated with surrealism more than abstract images which I did some time ago. And using much more matte painting and photo manipulation techniques is something new in my workflow. I still love simplicity and clear idea for illustration so connecting both styles is something I'm being inspired by most.

TAXI>>Many designers have a signature style, whereas you choose not to have 'a style that is recognisable at first sight'. Has this versatility ever worked against you?

Maciej>> When I was saying these words I was experimenting a lot and want to make each artwork unique as much as possible. Till now I say that my portfolio should contain various artworks instead of all made with same/similar effects or resources.

I believe this way of thinking describes my intentions best.

But on the other hand, you need to have your style to stay unique from all other designers, the more people know you and the more your style is recognizable the stronger your position is.

Also if someone gets close to you will look like a copier. Take a look at Scott Hansen's or Chuck Anderson's portfolio and you will see how strong they are and how they impact other designers.

So being versatile never worked against me since I can jump across few styles and techniques and keep my own style at the same time.

TAXI>>If you had to use one of your existing works as a self-portrait, which would it be, and why?

Maciej>> Trust the Future. Because of its spontaneous and simple technique and intrigue, mysterious meaning. If I only were half that pretty… ;).

TAXI>>A music lover like yourself is bound to plug in at work - do let us in on your playlist!

Maciej>> My playlist is changing from week to week but I need to be plugged in while I'm working (or not).

I love all electronic and rock stuff with trip-hop on the peak, as my favourite genre ever. Dj Shadow, Dj Krush, Amon Tobin, Herbaliser, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, IAMX, Sneaker Pimps, Moloko, Daft Punk, Massive Attack, RJD2, Flying Lotus, Parov Stelar, Goldfrapp, Unkle, DMX, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Fatboy Slim, Paul Van Dyk, Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle, The White Stripes, AC/DC, Alice in Chains, Tool, Nirvana, Korn, Linkin Park and others. Besides that I like movie/game soundtracks and internet radios (WeFunkRadio forever)

TAXI>>I'm sure our readers will love to hear about your playground. Mind giving us a description of your workspace?

Maciej>> Sure thing. I've moved into new flat few months ago so my studio is not finished yet - I guess more furniture will appear when after hot summer days which I love spending outside.

My working space takes place at my home - one of two rooms on a 6th floor with beautiful view of my city (east and west, almost 360 degrees :). I have two desktop machines - I'm working on a PC platform, and my fiancée on an iMac.

Also the a4 size tablet is something I get used to and that's all about hardware. I love books and magazines which are laying everywhere.

TAXI>>Once again, thank you for sharing with us! Now, which fantasy land would you like TAXI to take you to?

Maciej>> Two tickets to go Around The World and back to home, please.

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