Slovakian artist Petra Štefanková studied graphic design and film and TV graphics in Bratislava, Prague and London. She has worked on advertising, editorial, animation, publishing and fine art projects globally. She collaborated with VooDooDog Animation in London on the animated title sequence for the Hollywood film Nanny McPhee Returns. She is an author, designer and illustrator of books Moje malé more, Don't take my dreams from me, Čmáranica a Machuľa. Petra Štefanková is a winner of many awards, such as Channel4's 4Talent Award 2007, Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic Award 2019, American Illustration 42 Winner in New York and she is a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.
What are the primary concepts and focus of your art and how do these ideas relate to your medium, and creative process itself?
My current focus is acrylic painting and drawing, although my creative journey started with a graphic design degree and I have also worked as a commercial illustrator and digital artist globally. My initial concepts started with automatic drawing known in 20th-century surrealism. I now use drawing as a signature in combination with acrylic painting and I use tools, that are commonly used by street artists like acrylic markers. The works are rather figurative but also abstract and represent my feminine optics. I originally tested many traditional techniques before deciding to develop my artistic programme in acrylic painting.
What is your artist's message, what do you wish to communicate to the viewer?
Since I have worked as a commercial illustrator, my works have been widely published in magazines, books and newspapers worldwide. The aesthetics of illustration, graphic design and comics are also very recognisable in my paintings. The specific subjects are often women, who are seen in mass media and press and they are role models, personalities, icons or fashion inspirations although I don't want to depict individual celebrities or their portraits in my work. The important part of the pictures is the abstract settings of cities, streets or home interiors. I often see my characters in harmony with nature too.
Which artists of inspiration and influenced to you?
I was born in former Czechoslovakia in 1978 when the country's borders were closed behind the iron curtain. I, therefore, appreciate the freedom that came at the end of the era in the Velvet Revolution in 1989, I was only 11 years old at the time. During my childhood, the Western cultural influence was limited so I was inspired by the local Czech and Slovak artists – Albin Brunovsky, Viktor Kubal, Adolf Born and others. I was excited to explore the world around us so much, that I decided to move to the United Kingdom in 2006 and I travelled to the US, France, Germany, Portugal and Australia to develop my artistic presence. My paintings are hugely inspired by my travels around the world and the artists and their works I got to know thanks to my international movements. My work is a mixture of multicultural creativity and the eclectic visual language is reflected in my artwork. I am influenced by Spanish cubism, French surrealism, American Pop Art, and Australian Aboriginal art, but also by some contemporary artists in the United Kingdom such as Mr Doodle or the Japanese greats, for example, Yayoi Kusama or Takashi Murakami.
Which of your works stands out as a highlight, a favourite, or a significant point in your creative growth and development? and why?
I have to mention the 3D computer graphics I was known for internationally between the years 2007 and 2011. These were the works I won many international awards for, including Channel 4's 4Talent Award in the United Kingdom. This major event actually influenced my career so much, that I had to focus on a full-time artistic production and I never stopped. However, there was an important twist to fine arts and painting in 2016, because I had to move on, experiment, reinvent myself and find new markets for my work again. I am now fully immersed in the world of fine art and I dedicate my life to it.
What memorable reactions have you had to your work?
I remember nice articles about my work written by the editor of Computer Arts Garrick Webster for the Channel 4 television website and their 4Talent magazine. He named me a trendsetter referring to my digital illustrations.What is your dream project?One of my dreams is to exhibit in solo exhibitions in alpha galleries and museums worldwide.
What advice would you give to your younger or older self?
I would probably recommend myself to start painting earlier than 2016 and it had to be during my long-term stay in London because the opportunities there would be extensive.