Stepping into a Dream | An Interview with illustrator Antonia Glücksman.
Antonia Glücksman is a fashion designer with a flair for illustration. The winner of a competitive pitch, Antonia’s fifteen gorgeous illustrations form part of the narrative in Holly Corfield Carr's poetry collection Subsong, a response to the coastal environment at East Soar in Devon. Interview by Daniella Ferguson-Djaba.
What prompted your career shift from fashion design to illustration?
I still work in the fashion industry and enjoy this part of my life very much. I always particularly liked the illustration side of my fashion jobs. After working with Falmouth University for several years now, I decided to enrol on the MA Illustration Authorial Practice. I felt it would offer me the perfect opportunity to inject new energy into my creative practice, serving as an ideal platform to support my exploration of other creative interests beyond fashion.
So, the move to illustration allowed you to experiment with different areas of your creativity - Had you found that fashion had become dissatisfying or even boring?
No, not at all. In fact, my current fashion job is not boring at all. It’s very technical and engineering-based and feels completely different to my illustration work. I feel very lucky to be able to keep a good balance between the two.
Before your main discipline move, what kind of fashion did you design? Sportswear or couture, for example?
I have worked with lingerie and swimwear for large commercial brands throughout most of my career. I still remember how proud I felt the first time I was on a beach and spotted one of the bikinis I designed! Now I develop dry-suits for scuba diving which are much more technical products. But it is still the positive feedback from our customers that keeps me excited.
What transferable skills has fashion design given you?
It is definitely helpful to already know my way around the Adobe Suite. Other aspects that I carried over from fashion to my illustration practice are my design-centred thinking and my ability to imagine the finished product, its context and the story that I want it to tell.
What was it about Holly's Subsong that made you want to pitch your designs to the National Trust project?
Holly’s poems immediately got my imagination going. They are so rich in pictures and beautifully musical. This made the whole process of making the illustrations and responding to the poems such a joyful and natural process for me.
Which of Holly's poems were you most excited to illustrate for?
I loved illustrating “Spectral Glide”. To me, the poem is full of energy, movement and sounds which I was hopefully able to bring across in the illustration.
Earlier on in our interview, you also said that you usually imagine the finished product before you have even started your designs. Do you create your own individual backstories for all your artwork?
For me, it’s a balance between having a clear vision of the finished artwork and not being afraid to change the approach halfway through the process, if necessary. But I always try to step back and question: does the artwork communicate what I set it out to do.
How has it been working so closely with the author of this project? With your artwork at the moment, are you more inclined to do collaborations in the future?
It was great to hear first-hand from Holly what inspired her to write the poems. Her thoughts definitely fed into the creation of the illustrations and I feel that pictures and words have built a real symbiosis now. I would absolutely love to do more projects like this; poetry lends itself wonderfully as a creative starting point.
Are there any poets in particular that you would love to collaborate with?
I would love to illustrate Alice Oswald’s poetry.
Your pitch designs are so vivid - the colour contrasts between the variations of blue set aside the white is striking. How did you come up with these minimal yet bold design? And how was it achieved?
The illustrations are all based on cyanotypes, which are photographic blueprints. I love the dreamlike ambiguity this technique offers. I created the illustrations as an invitation to pay attention to the wonder and beauty of the small things around us and of our everyday lives.
I loved what you said about, your illustrations being 'an invitation to pay attention to the wonder and beauty of the small things around us.' It is so beautiful and profound. Do you feel as though, in today's society, we as a population are neglecting about the 'small things' because of our obsession to be consistently plugged into with what is happening in 'celebrity sphere'/ the persistent outpouring of information, either through Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media?
I think all art invites us to pay attention and take new perspectives and it’s our own personal choice to follow this invitation or not. Of course, social media can be distracting, but it is also an opportunity to connect with and appreciate art from all around the world. To me, it’s a huge inspiration. As with all things, it’s the dose that makes the poison.
Has this experience made you more inclined to make poetry (if not someone else's, your own) a frequent component in your future work?
Yes, definitely! I don’t think I will ever write my own poetry but words in general, be it poetry, song lyrics, short stories or even movie dialogues, are a huge creative inspiration to me.
What's next for you as an Illustrator?
I really enjoyed this collaboration and would love to continue to illustrate books, responding creatively to other authors and poets. At the same time, I am also currently working on writing and illustration my own short stories.
Antonia Glücksman's other work can be found on Instagram @along_those_lines. Subsong by Holly Corfield Carr will be published in September 2018. The publication is a result of the partnership between the National Trust and Falmouth University's staff, students and poet Holly Corfield Carr.
by Daniella Ferguson-Djaba