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Andrzej Klimowski

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  • Andrzej Klimowski is a graphic artist and a designer of theatre, opera and film posters. He is an international illustrator of book covers and press and magazine illustrations and an author of graphic novels (publishers include Faber & Faber and SelfMadeHero). His research interests are in narrative, investigating new relationships between text and image.

    Born of Polish parents in London in 1949, Klimowski trained at the Saint Martin's School of Art before studying at the Academy of Fine Art and working professionally in Warsaw. His east-European legacy deeply influences his work. From the late 1970s he designed posters and book jackets – including novels by PG Wodehouse , Simon Louvish, Lionel Shriver, Milan Kundera and Kazuo Ishiguro – and illustrations, TV graphics and animation, following his particular of from examples of his 'Polish School' design.

    The early twentieth century photo-collagists, Surrealism, Dada and Expressionism have been an influence on part of his work, but he has developed his own personal style with a combination of fantasy, anxiety, ambiguity and eroticism which keeps his works from becoming pastiche. He is the current head of illustration at the RCA, His work includes short films, illustrations and books, including Lo Sguardo Deviato (The Deflected Gaze), and most recently The Secret. His work has recently been the subject of a retrospective at the Theatre Museum in London.

  • Biography

  • From 1968 to 1972 Andrzej Klimowski studied sculpture and painting at St Martins School of Art. 1973 to 1980 he lived and worked in Warsaw, the first two years of which he studied poster design under Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and film animation under Dr Kazimierz Urbanski at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He has designed many posters for cultural institutions in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Opole and Lodz and collaborated with leading book publishers. He directed Dead Shadow, a short experimental film shown at international film festivals in Krakow and London (1981). On returning to the UK, he worked freelance for Faber & Faber, Penguin Books and The Guardian. He has been a recipient of many international prizes, including: The Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards for best film posters (Los Angeles 1977 and 1978), Campaign Silver Award for RSC theatre poster (1987), The Daily Telegraph Award for Excellence in press campaign for British Telecom (1988), DA&D Silver Award for a Royal Mail Millennium stamp (London 1999), V&A illustration Award for the graphic novel Horace Dorlan (2nd prize 2008), 12th International Biennale of Theatre Posters (Honorary mention, Rzeszow, Poland 2009).

    Andrzej Klimowski’s works are in public collections including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, National Museums in Warsaw and Poznan, Library of Congress in Washington D.C. He has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad (retrospective exhibitions in Villa Bottini in Lucca, Italy (2000), The National Theatre in London (2001–2), The National Museum of Photography, Film and TV in Bradford (2003) and the Arsenal Gallery in Poznan, Poland (2006). Narrative student projects (The Visual Editor) are informed by his own experimental work and recent lectures and workshops have been delivered in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Oxford, London, Moscow and Brno (Czech Republic), as part of literary festivals and graphic design biennales.

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  • Practice

  • Andrzej Klimowski’s professional activity as an illustrator and graphic artist has always been informed by his personal experimental work in photography, painting and printmaking.

    In his early career, work in the photographic darkroom and in screen-printing influenced his approach to photomontage and collage, which he further developed in book cover, poster and record sleeve design as well as press and magazine illustration. It also led to experimental filmmaking and moving graphics (film titles) for TV. His main clients have always been in the cultural sector (theatres, film distributors, TV, book publishers, the national press and the music industry). Subject matter has been literary.

    More recently he has focused on narrative. Faber & Faber, for whom he designed many covers over the years in collaboration with Pentagram Design, began to publish his own books (The Depository, 1994, The Secret, 2002, and Horace Dorlan, 2007). Paradoxically as digital technology has rapidly been expanding, his production methods have undergone simplification relying on the imagination and understatement. He has turned to drawing with ink and making linocut prints. The first books were entirely picture based, whilst the last one has combined text and image, reflecting the psychic state of the main protagonist. He has also worked with Danusia Schejbal adapting modern classics into a graphic novel form (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson), both published by SelfMade Hero and translated into many languages. His interest in film continues to influence his narrative works. In 2006 he directed a short film, The Sphinx, combining animation and live action techniques. The Irish Film Board who also produced a film based on his first book, The Depository, financed the film. 

    Andrzej Klimowski’s ongoing projects have directed his research to historical and military archives.

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    • External collaborations

    • Andrzej Klimowski has been bringing his professional contacts into the RCA environment. His publishers have sponsored prizes for the Visual Communication Programme over the last one and a half decades. Initially Faber & Faber sponsored an award for the best collaboration between a graphic design and an illustration student. Icon Books run a project over several years commissioning the best students to illustrate books for the Philosophers for Beginners series. Over the last eight years Oberon Books have been sponsoring the Oberon Books Awards for the illustration and design of classic and contemporary literature (a college-wide project). His graphic novel publisher, SelfMadeHero, has commissioned students to adapt modern classics. Catherine Anyango, a recent graduate and now a visiting lecturer in Visual Communication has just brought out her version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to high critical acclaim.

      On behalf of SelfMadeHero and the British Council he has conducted workshops on pictorial narrative and lectured on book cover design at the Moscow International Book Festival (June 2010).

      Between 1987 and 2009 he has worked as an external examiner for Gwent College of Art in Newport, BA Illustration; John Moores University in Liverpool, BA Animation; Brighton University, BA Illustration; Canterbury College of Art (KIAD), BA Printmaking; ESAG (Ecole Supérieure d’Arts Graphiques) in Paris, diploma in Art & Design; Glasgow School of Art, BA Illustration; Falmouth School of Art, MA Illustration – authorial practice; Dundee University (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art), BA Illustration; Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, PhD.

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    Selected work

    Research

    Research interests

    Within the discipline of illustration Andrzej Klimowski is researching visual narrative. In his own practice and in his work with students he endeavours to open up new forms for storytelling, both linear and fragmented, employing images, text and design. Drawing from his own investigations he designs projects that allow students to deepen their imaginations through a stream of consciousness approach to generating narratives as well as a rigorous analytical method for editing. Most of the work centres on the book, although it ventures into animation and printmaking.

    Research