The Handbook
The Handbook

What does love mean to you? Is it a tender and warming feeling nested inside you when you daydream about somebody or something, or is it a deep belief or emotion sparked by affection? Whatever it might mean to you, there’s no escaping it.

Love in its entirety is explored in The Royal Exchange’s all-new Love Is… campaign, incorporating mesmerising work by Polish illustrator Justyna Stasik. Having worked with major brands including Apple, Sony and The New York Times, Justyna’s work fuses the universal theme into her work through statement colours, unnatural proportions and female subjects.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we met up with Justyna ahead of her artistic installation at The Royal Exchange’s Love Is… campaign to find out how she incorporates a little love into her bold and thought-provoking work. 

What does love mean to you as both an individual and as an artist?

For me personally love is about patience and acceptance. Artistically it can mean anything and everything, the more the better! 

With Valentine’s Day just days away, do you agree that there needs to be an entire day dedicated to the magic word? 

I don’t think that there needs to be an entire day dedicated to love but I definitely don’t mind it. Whatever rocks your boat! 

I want my characters and my work in general to be relatable, heart lifting and fun.

A lot of great art stems from having a romantic muse, do you intertwine the theme in your own work? 

I sure do. It’s such an universal and bottomless subject resonating with us all, it’s virtually impossible not to. 

Your artistic work boasts vibrant colours, draws on proportions and makes a statement, what inspires you to create in this style? 

I want my characters and my work in general to be relatable, heart lifting and fun. This is why I love bright colour palettes and slightly off proportions. I try to base as much of my work as possible on real, so-called regular people and situations. This way everyone can potentially find themselves in my work. 

You also incorporate a similar colour palette throughout your work, is this an artistic choice or purely down to personal taste?

I just feel very comfortable in this realm of bright yellows, pinks and purples, they lift me up and make the piece instantly better. I like muted, gloomy palettes too but I just leave them outside of my work for now.

Much of your work is female body orientated, what is the message you’re trying to portray?

As I mentioned, I want my characters to be as relatable as possible. I always try to create girls who are cool-looking but also approachable. Like this stylish girl at a party who also looks like a nice person you’d like to spend the evening with and it turns out you have a lot in common, maybe including slightly bigger dress size and love of everything with sriracha.

You’ve worked with huge global companies and grown a significant Instagram following too, what can audiences expect next?

You never know and that’s ok!

What impact do you hope your work will have on individuals who see it for the first time at The Royal Exchange?

I hope it will put a big smile, or at least a little smirk (I’m a smirker myself!) on their faces.

For more information on Justyna Stasik’s installation at The Royal Exchange, visit theroyalexchange.co.uk 
Shop your Valentine’s gifts at The Royal Exchange’s February Edit