Interview with illustrator Jan Konopka creator of Luckens
Jan Konopka is the founder of Luckens, a nature inspired designer and illustrator from Sevenoaks in Kent. He shares with us his inspirations and mission, and gives us insight into his journey with illustration.
How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always had a love of art and design as far back as I can remember and I was encouraged to keep sketchbooks by my art teacher at school. I studied illustration and design at London college of printing at Elephant and Castle in London. About ten years ago my wife and I moved to a village in Kent. I found the countryside really inspiring and my work started to reflect the open spaces and animals around where I live.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process behind your practice?
Everything I make starts from an idea in a sketchbook. I’m usually influenced by nature, so I guess the first part of my process is a walk in the countryside with my dog. I carry a small sketchbook and brush pen, I make very quick sketches and sometimes I’ll take a few reference photos of anything that catches my eye. I work up quite a lot of ideas and approaches on large size cheap paper. I usually just tape a few A4 printer papers together. This means I’m not fixed to any size or scale. If I need more space I just tape on more paper. At this stage I like to work quite freely and let accidents happen that could influence the final design. I then usually scan what I have and work up the final images digitally.
What inspired you to start your brand?
I don’t really think of Luckens as a brand, more as a creative outlet. I work as a gift-ware illustrator and designer and basically I love creating so much that I can’t stop! I started Luckens out of a love for making and creating.
Describe your brand’s mission.
I think the Luckens mission is to try to make designs that will be appreciated by someone. Something to maybe make their domestic space a little bit more homely and personal. I hope that some of my designs will become part of a home for a long time. I love rummaging in antique and charity shops. I’ll find something that I really love, but I won’t always understand why I’m attracted to it. It’s usually because it has a folk art feel or just has lovely colours. My dream is to make something that gives that feeling to someone else.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I use objects that I find in the fields and woods as inspiration. Twigs, feathers, pebbles and leaves are my favourite finds. I’ve found a couple of buzzard feathers and lots of pheasant feathers which are amazing. I use sharpened twigs that I’ve found for ink drawings. I love using Holbein acrylics, Tombow brush pens and Caran d’Ache Supracolor pencils. I get through so many Conté a Paris 601 pencils that I’ve started buying them in bulk now!
Do you have a favourite work you’ve made to date?
One of my favourite products I've worked on recently are some seed packet designs that I did for an online retailer in London. My hope is that people will like the packets as much as the seeds inside and perhaps even give them as a gift. The seeds are all cottage garden varieties and good for attracting bees and other pollinating insects. A really lovely project to have been involved with.