My name is Roman Klonek. I have a spot for old-fashioned cartoons and Japanese woodcuts.
In the 90s I studied Graphic Arts in Düsseldorf and discovered a passion for woodcut printing.
Since 15 years now, I do posters with a wide range of whimsical creatures, mostly half animal/half human, preferential in awkward situations. Maybe you can call it a bizarre balancing act between propaganda, folklore and pop.
I work together with friends in a studio in Düsseldorf, Germany.
How did you discovered the handmade printing world and why did you choose it as your art of expression?
I had a course in woodcut printing during my study and realized quite soon that I had found my medium. For me, it’s a good way to make a little more of a drawing. It’s kind of makes something "official". I especially like to have the effect of an old story. That’s likely because the medium is not quite contemporary. I also like that it’s unavoidable to have mistakes on the surface, and every print has it own little mistakes so I can say every single one is unique. It sounds paradoxical, but at the end of a printing process I have a couple of unique prints and thats just great for me.
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I always try to get bigger in sizes because I love the expression of huge color fields. So right now I do a triptychon in a whole size of 100 x 210 cm.
I m going to show it in September in an Art show with only woodcut artists.
Can you describe your working routine and how is your studio space and how, at all, that affects your work?
It's very different. I cannot really talk about a special routine, I do a lot of things in the same time and change the focus quite often.
Sometimes I take the main time for developing ideas, sometimes you can see me one week only printing.
My studio is an important place for all this work because the possibility of getting sidetracked is low.
Tell me about your process, where or how things begin, how they with which material do you work.
Like I said before, I do a lot of things in the same time, but broadly speaking I can say the whole processing is divided in 3 stages:
Firstly: The intuitive, that means the scribbling. I just need a simple scribble book for this.
Secondly: The reflection, the further development and working out on the computer. I do this with my favourite graphic program: Adobe Illustrator.
And thirdly: The execution. This is the cutting and printing.
For the cutting I got simple cutting knifes and chisels. And for the printing I prefer poplar wood plates and oil colour.
What are you having the most trouble resolving in your process?
It's the printing. Every little step in printing contains a bunch of risks. The application of the color for example is always a balance act between "to less" and "to much" and especially in summer I got problems with the humidity of the air. I work with oil colours and this means that sometimes a colour needs a week to dry. When the air is to "wet" for example, it could happen that a paper change its size. It gets bigger and I get annoyed by loosing the congruence.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Actually I dot not much experiments with materials anymore. Maybe I should to. But on the other hand: the attributes of color and wood are always less important than the composition and the general idea of an artwork.
Tell me about your influences in the handmade printing range or in other ranges (music, cinema, etc)
Generally, if you got a penchant for woodcut printing its nearly impossible not to stumble upon "Moku Hanga" – the Japanese woodcuts. I love especially the old ones. For more than 300 years ago they already reached a very high quality (maybe the highest) with this medium. In 2009, I had the good fortune to visit an exhibiton of Utagawa Kuniyoshi in London. He was one of the superstars of the "Ukiyo-e" genre, next to Hokusai, Kunisada and Hiroshige. "Ukiyo-e" means "pictures of the floating world." Its mainly narrative and shows a lively sense of vitality. You can see everyday situations but also dramatic scenes in the area of theatre and war. They got this special kind of strangeness ...kind of exotic journey. Full of codes and mystery It was very popular and in the same time technically brilliant. Kuniyoshi carved super-fine lines in very hard wood and got editions up to 30.000. All in all, the engagement with this issue contains a big inspiring environment, regarding content and technique.