Karolina Głusiec

Would you describe drawing as your primary form of artistic expression?

I would say that drawing is something that I do consider primary. As a form of a communication to be honest really.


I’m naturally not a person that is able to talk a lot / say a lot. I sort of always had this idea that most of the people that I know, including my friends, are naturally verbally expressive. Growing up in Poland was also about certain talking patterns that I have to consider I didn’t manage to yet adapt. It’s not anything that I am against, it’s just something that even if I try doing comes a bit as if against my nature. And, not to put anybody in a particular order now, I never meant that. But if you’d asked me if I prefer talk shows or sitcoms to films about driving I would immediately tell you that I prefer films about driving. Here’s why I mention that: At the moment, since we’re all experiencing a certain big demand in communication it shows how we’re all different in our needs of expressing and receipting certain elements that we need from communication, especially within a group.


Things do change. Sometimes it does take a wee bit of time to realize that there’s nothing wrong in a way that you perceive the reality and in the way you decide to vocalize yourself. “You don’t talk loud enough” “You don’t make eye contact” “You don’t sit straight” “You are not making an impression of someone that is sure of what they’re saying” “You don’t know how to make yourself seen” “You don’t seem to express your abilities / personality” “You don’t look capable of what you’re aiming to be doing”. Well, been there, done that. Same as lots of people that kept on listening to such comments in their environments. We all did at certain times of our lives really.


I think that it’s very important to hear everyone’s point of view, remembering that it’s a point of view which may later become a point of a reference.


Being 34 years old, I can admit I am able to make myself to learn to talk differently, walk differently, look differently but realizing it’s not for the sake of my own exposure but for the others to feel more comfortable with myself. Yes, you can do all that to discover that this is all that you always wanted because thank to it you’re able to become a social standard acceptable=invisible and that it’s all a big heap of bullshit at the same time. And I didn’t mean to offend anybody here.


I’m going to mention it once again. Doing all that – sure, willing to make the effort, to discover that rather than it’s for myself to benefit, it’s something for their own confidence – not mine. I’m confident in being who I am and how I am. Yes the one that talks not loud enough.


There are different ways people recept communication. I am a listener that takes time to respond to things. Not because I’m „too slow” or „too passive” or „too indifferent” – trust me – I’ve heard all this. And none of it is true.


I take the information to make it reverberate within my perception. Not thinking about it. It reverberates in its own time. I have a good memory (lol, sorry) I have a really excellent memory. Makes it for a couple of high-speed SSD drives from the top shelf.


Drawing is a gesture. You can learn all this – confidence body language, style that expresses ”who you’re really mean to be“ all these trips but certain gesture still do give away your true nature.


Oh, thank God for this, or, err, thank whoever you need to. If there’s any language that I think makes sense now – it’s sign language.


Try to think about a couple of Zoom / Skype meetings or phone calls when people talk at the same time. Can they hear anything rather than themselves? Does this sound glitch result in people taking their turns in talking? One talks one listens and the turns switch uhm?


Yeah so, drawing. Takes time to make, takes time to look at, makes time to register. To make contact. Not yell at one another, not show off in a lots of boasts drawings. Drawing can be a link, a material splinter of something that you’d tried to say but couldn’t vocalize, so, that’s drawing for me. A link between you and me. A contact gesture. A material thought that makes the internal still being humble, subtle, sensitive without putting too much meaning into it, but remaining true. That’s drawing.


If drawing is talking, animation is like singing, like making music, like skipping stones, running with eyes closed and going for infinite walks – being yourself without the need to tick any boxes of who you’d have to be like. Being yourself without the pressure of the necessity of being understood.


Animation blends in the drawing for me so I can let it all go. Of course, my films are personal but I haven’t done many. Most of my works online are collaborations with music artists. My own films took time and space. I did a proper “Kevin Shields” with my “The Fool” film which I was doing and avoiding doing for 7 years. (Kevin Shields did the same thing with My Bloody Valentine’s second album – keeping posting about it for years until most people lost any belief that this will be still happening. It did happen. Like 25 years later.) But that’s why animation is for me like making music or recording a music album, not that I’ve done any but – leaving space for fantasy, daydreaming, singing and dancing in the dark and letting it all be watched.


What is your background in drawing and animation?

I always used to draw. But drawing was never considered “a proper piece of artwork” in either academic or professional environment that I’d encounter.


Winning Jerwood Drawing Prize was something special for me that I never would even expect to have happened – because of the nature of my drawings. Often shy, vulnerable and rushed or – very emotional, dim and still.


I do look up at people that are precious about their work, like, for instant my housemate Jamie who is a printmaker, pays a lot of attention to detail. Measures things slowly and accurately. Makes things meaningful after the printmaking process is finished by signing the working taking care of it. Observing this made me realise how much I always would love to do this. To approach what I make with such attitude – because it takes courage to be that sensitive and gentle with fragile and delicate things and not get anything or anybody get in your way or snap on your heels when you do so.


I’m used to being moved over. I’m used to having to adapt quickly. I’m used to not have any requirements. That’s my autopilot. It doesn’t mean that I always want it. Sometimes this is my escape mode. To escape what I really do want to make and do.


My good friend Josh is a painter. We studied together at the RCA and I would always tell him how I wished I could do paint. Because you don’t let yourself be rushed. And I do think it requires a great deal of bravery. To be able to work on a painting for three years or to look at the sky for ages, to spend time to look at this one and only particular color. To look at your own painting. To be with it in the space.


I’ve lost places I would call my home a couple of times. I’ve lost my spaces a couple of times. My borders have always been crossed since I was little. That’s what I got used to. At the same time I’m able to fall asleep absolutely everywhere and everywhere and all over the place I can feel at home. I fall in love with the spaces. I’m not used to “hold a space” “take place”- I’m more in-between places. I don’t consider it a skill at all. It’s still a lack of belief or a lack confidence – or rather – a fair of being moved over again. A fear of having everything taken away.


I never wanted to have any special possessions, really, I wanted to have my own space – which I have now, but it takes a bit to adapt. Even though I feel completely at home – I’ve got thoughts making me think of what I’ve been through.


It’s not a failure and it’s nothing that I regret. I didn’t blink my eye when that would have taken place.


My films were often being made under very difficult circumstances but were some safe outlets, comfort zones, pieces where I could re-invent the existing reality into somewhere where I could express what I want how I want.


Drawing has no place.

Drawing is a link.

From the inside to the outside.

From the basement to the hill.

Has no borders. No opening times. No fences.

But it can be offensive if you mean too.

Doesn’t knock on your doors.

It’s here if you want to.

It’s here for someone if you want to give it to them.

And they don’t even need to want it.

They may never know.

It’s ok.


My films are an internal dialogue too. A dialogue with whoever wants to look at them. Memories of things we think we saw could have been seen but someone else elsewhere in the same way.


Or the opposite. We may remember encountering the same thing differently. It’s like making a cake for all day together and then taking pictures of it when it’s finally baked.


My picture will be different from yours.


We’re all processing what we’ve been through and nothing we say make and think is without a reason. Same as what brings us together is looking for some pivotal points in reality without meaning particular ones. It’s like passing by on the seashore and stopping when you see something interesting brought up by the sea waves to the sand. Why? Were you even looking for it?


But you say it. You stopped to pick it up. You’ve made a contact with this thing and gave it some attention.


What aspects interest you regarding the relation of drawing and moving imagery?

I guess this will be a straightforward and honest answer: As drawing is something natural to me, I always wanted to do animation as an extension of it. Something that would allow me to be even more free with the images that I can make. Free to express – as I mentioned – there were times in my life when the hand-drawn images would make me tell much more that if I’d do talking.


Can you describe the process of how you approach an animated film?

This depends pretty much from the film, from the nature of the project and from… it’s never the same. I wish I’d be one of these artists that have a set of rules and rituals that they’d apply to their workflow, making art but… I’m still learning.


Of course, there are some things that I know I can do well and that they work and I like the way they do but I prefer to stay curious – that’s my main rule – as most of my animation work is collaboration, I like being a beginner and feeling I’m starting something new every time I listen to a song I’m given to work.


How do you develop the concept, the dramaturgy and the narration for a film?

Same as the answer before: I’m a listener and a partner rather than a leader or a follower. I enjoy making things together so that I engage in the project same way as the person whom it originates from, e.g. – the author of the song?


My way of working is to interpret, enjoy, listen and to be there – response to music visually – play, learn but never overtake – that’s why I don’t make any spectacular animation, haha!


I prefer it to be a bit dim, when you’re listening to the music, because – that’s how it goes – a music video is a video for the music. Not the other way around.


In which way do you think the process of making guides the way the film evolves and – however vague or evocative – how do your films create ”meaning“?

I think it’s emotions mainly. Then the images come.


Even with “The Fool” – and the early stage of making it in 2013 when it was a very ambitious thing to make and obviously – was driven by a couple of images – that are rooted in my head just because of the emotions they would bring me to. Andrzej Wróblewski, Jan Dziaczkowski, Josef Beuys, Josh Armitage, Jozef Czapski – their art set up my mood for the film which was inspired by… the process of painting and with how much I cannot grasp things pithing my reach – just because of the fear of it being taken away from me – oh irony!


But I guess, proving that I have these insecurities that can help me see how far I’ve gotten. It’s ok, I’m making small steps.


Does the process of animation have an influence of your drawing style? Is there a difference for you between drawing a sequence and a sequential drawing?

Well, the process of animation and the process of drawing is something that is inspiring as it evolves with the way we all grow up, learn things, un-learn, remember and forget them. It’s very personal and it also shows the way how we all wanna to be seen, want to be remember and what we prefer to hide away.


There is this way of drawing that I feel comfortable in and I know why. But I also know why I preferred to have it visible – “you draw like a bloke” said by someone in the college was like a compliment. It’s true. And it’s true that my way of drawing can be naturally very rough, very gritty, gestural and erratic but also emotional – If I’d to mention any artists that influenced my drawing. If I had to mention artists that influenced my drawing in any ways, most of them would be musicians – guitar, punk music, DIY – because I could relate to these sounds and ways of living. Using the available resources, working fast, being honest, almost brutal with honesty, with my heart upon the sleeve. My heart – a hand grenade.


Fugazi’s music helped me a lot to be myself because this ”you draw like a bloke“ comment was also not comfortable. What if I want to be more subtle? What if I stick out too much?


I remember being very vulnerable which I still am, with making images – with “Velocity” I abandoned any aesthetics which – I still do – I don’t intend the things to look pretty. But now I try to be a bit more careful, a little more specific and play with varieties of choices when I work, work slower, using different colours, try to approach things that I nicer and I always feared of making because ”they’re not meant for people like me“.


I started using watercolour, working in color in general and approaching drawing in less linear but more wholesome, textural and calm way. I kind of wish to make slower drawings, less drawings but drawings that would be reverberating drawings as they are. Moving images as they are.


Coming back to the “home“ relation of myself and feeling safe, not having much possessions, having things taken away from me, being made to destroy things, throw away drawings, it’s not the worst thing in the world and it’s not what I meant to underline here. These difficult situations made me appreciate drawing more and the healing quality of how simple images can comfort you. How simple elements can be with you forever and what you surround yourself with.


I never used to have a lot of things but I do remember things that I like. Images that make me happy. Nice memories even though they are as abstract as the smell of the air at night when it’s very cold and snowing outside. The color of the sky that is purple-brown and milky-coffee-brown with the smoke from the chimneys. They said it’s gonna start snowing, we’re going outside with this triumphant clouds of cigarette smoke in the lungs, feeling invincible. It’s almost midnight and we’re 21 years old, poor students living the best life ever. These sort of memories. Smell of an orange peel.


So these sort of drawings. Less in Quantity. More subtle. Slow. Calm. Peaceful. Even though sometimes not really in peace. It’s like that song by The Velvet Underground and Nico ”I’ll be your mirror“ – Every single drawing is my mirror and shows how I carry myself, haha . I should learn how to take care of myself a bit more.


Of course, there are some things that I know I can do well and that they work and I like the way they do but I prefer to stay curious – that’s my main rule – as most of my animation work is collaboration, I like being a beginner and feeling I’m starting something new every time I listen to a song I’m given to work.


Do you follow certain principles of traditional animation?

I’d be an ignorant if I’d say I ignore them – no it’s not the thing but sometimes these rules don’t apply. Sometimes there are things that are more important.


I’m a self-taught animator. I haven’t been taught any animation principles until I started hanging around animators – either when I first went to live in England and did the educational exchange at the University College Falmouth – when I did properly one of the first animated pieces which was a music video to “Karuzele Skutery Rodeo” by Lenny Valentino.


But yeah- it’s like driving a car – choosing proper gears, adjusting velocity – you would be driving differently when you’re on your own, in an open field – yeah great, but on the motorway these rules wouldn’t do. Sometimes there’s no road, there’s no rules, just you and your own car and it’s great.


Did you establish your own set of rules or strategies of how to set your drawings in motion?

Yeah I did. This is not that easy to answer but I’d try. It’s not about re-inventing the wheel or being over ambitious but about not giving up which, sometimes means doing what I can do at the moment. There’s no set answer for this one really. I’m sorry I’m repeating myself but – this was based on my experience with experiencing the difficulties in seeing.


When I was in college (RCA 2010 – 2012) I have experienced a really problematic health issue which nobody knew what was. It took me about 4 years to be fully recovered and to acknowledge that I did great and that I could then gradually some to its roots where it was coming from.


Animation and drawing are a form of a therapy but in everyday world we are being told that therapy is something nice. It’s not pleasant having your internal battles coming to the surface. It’s not pleasant to see where they’re coming from.


Drawing have saved my life and made me go places. My drawing was different in college when I was crying out of pain in my hands, my eyes would hurt unbearably. No I’m not a masochist, but, drawing was all I could have then. I didn’t realise that at that point I was at the beginning of acknowledging Post-Traumatic -Stress -Disorder oriented state and boom! – there you go:

Emotions are feelings

Emotions are memories

Emotions are communication

Emotions are drawing.


And we all transform our own emotions into something else – through actions, through music, through art, through making other things. I guess I wasn’t realising that at that time I was transforming past violent accidents and pain into something beautiful. I keep on maintaining this in everyday animation work / art making in simply being good for myself when I work. I find drawing comforting although sometimes it triggers some difficult memories too, so my main rule is to be good for myself. Taking myself for drawing dates almost, hahahaha.


What do you think is necessary to know about animation in order to tackle it? Or is it better to know as little as possible?

There are different types of personalities and different ways of working would be best for them, I teach, so, I cannot say to my students that ”oh, such way of working will do, the other is rubbish“ noooo, because we have all different personalities. Imagine – I love surprises, but some of my friends hate them, they like to be reassured the like to know what happens. I don’t like stagnation. But is this anything that would make me or them a better or worse artist?


I guess that this is the only thing that I would like to underline answering your question: stay motivated – and remember why. To work on an animated film is complex in many ways: regarding the traditional rules of how objects are supposed to move as well as the technical set-up. Compared to the simplicity and spontaneity of drawing and sketching, this can stand in the way of the drawing process.


What are the aspects that you love about animation and what are the aspects that you hate?

I’m not great with pacing myself. And I’m not great with dedicating my own time and space to work – I do to much multitasking but that’s for reasons that I’ve mentioned. That’s changing though. And it’s not my personality but these were the circumstances that would make me do so. I think I’ve been doing pretty good considering losing home and moving places more than 25 times over the past 10 years.


I think what I hate about animation is the pressure. It’s something I cannot avoid and nobody can, because there is time to submit things, to meet deadlines, to give your work to someone…


It’s also for me not easy to stop and move to something else abruptly, so, instead – I ease myself from exiting the project into fluently doing something else instead pf jumping to another quickly. I’m getting old – can’t bear to be rushed.


Do you use analogue as well as digital tools to create your moving imagery? Do you prefer to work in an analogue way or digitally?

Uh, I tend to switch – I like making new things, learning, being surprised and being challenged. I hate stagnation. If I’m being asked to copy what I previously did I try to do something completely different and I mostly get away with it. I’m very lucky. I’ve built my first multiplane recently. I’ts a new thing, so I guess that in 2012 I will be making new things and dream projects I alway wanted to make – I did mono printing recently – after more than 10 years of doing it last!


How would you describe yourself? A drawing professional, an artist, an animator?

I think I’d go for artist / educator / learner / professional daydreamer.


 Do you realise a film all by yourself from the concept stage through the process of production and post-production or are there certain aspects for which you collaborate with others / other artists? Do you apply your skills and create animation / drawings / commissioned work for other film productions?

This is actually what I responded to already – I’m really challenged and always happy to do collaborations and commissions and if I do so – my input is an interpretation of someone else’s music – a creative partnership and – to me what’s truly rewarding is being given a piece of one’s unique creative vision and a lot of trust and freedom to translate it into a visual language through animation. Image and sound together. And remembering that the image is made for the sound, not the other way around.


Where do you show your films and drawings? What audience are your films made for?

I wish to show my drawings in an accessible way to where they could be exhibited without any specific context. Like in the window of the shop next to the post-office everyone passes by, somewhere in the public space people do their errands. I also would like to have the ability to use the drawings directly through dialogue and therapy, when it’s impossible to talk about difficult things to be dealt with, which have to be tackled. I wish to have the ability to use this skill to make these things easier. By drawing, by contact, by the presence and by the spark of an attention so somebody who needs it in that very particular moment. And to be able to bring a smile through it. Maybe not through what one would be able to see in the drawing but through the experience for bringing them to something present in their memory, making them smile thinking of it.

Karolina Głusiec is a visual artist working mainly across animated and DIY film media, inspired by ways of seeing and ways of remembering. She is a visiting and faculty member lecturer in drawing and animation examining various ways of image-memorising and perception. Karolina is currently working on a PhD thesis proposal on material and non-material memories in communication.