Valentína Figeľová: In simplicity, beautiful details are hidden, creating a perfect whole

Who is Valentína Figeľová?

Valentína Figeľová is a Slovak graphic designer, illustrator, and author of children's books. She loves coffee and the city where she lives. She enjoys life with friends, meeting new people, coming up with ideas, and, above all, seeing art even where others may not. She likes to capture everything in photos and finds meaning in things, where others may not look. At INSPIO, she is responsible for creating marketing visuals and simultaneously develops new products – Playmats for children and wall stickers or modern paintings for adults.

Join us to see how the new author's INSPIO playmats for childrenyou'll also learn about the difference between creating children's illustrations and marketing graphics.

What led you to creation? Did you study visual arts?

Since childhood, I have been a creative being, constantly drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, and sewing. I attended elementary art school. since kindergarten. Later, I decided to study at the School of Applied Arts in Košice with a focus on promotional visual arts. I chose this field because it covers a broad spectrum of visual arts and aims to teach problem-solving not only in graphic design, but also in applied and spatial design. This way, I could explore various areas of visual arts and find out what resonates with my heart the most.

The most challenging aspect is to create in simplicity, without unnecessary elements, shapes, or details. However, when creating products for the little ones, it is essential, and so I tried to approach the entire creative process as simply as possible and as close to the little ones as possible.

Reveal, what difference do you perceive between hand-drawn illustration and digital illustration?

The only and fundamental difference is that in digital illustration, I can take a step back :). Sometimes I paint illustrations by hand, but I definitely consider it more demanding because in such creation, you need to know how to work with color, brush, master technique… And come to terms with the fact that it can't be „fixed“ with the press of a button.

What is typical for your creation?

The most crucial aspect of creation is to establish your own ”signature”, so that people can easily associate the artwork with the artist.. Honestly, I don't know how that is built; probably only through years of practice, experimentation, and the search for a personal style. I certainly have my own style and execution, but I don't look at my works with such detachment to clearly specify that „something of mine.“ However, people apparently see it :).

At work, you engage in creating advertising graphics, but you also illustrate. Do you perceive any difference in that?

At work, I focus more on advertising graphics, outside of work, more on illustrations. I like both, but it depends on what I'm specifically doing. Illustration is closer to me in some aspects because I can be more expressive, and it's a way of self-expression – or me – showing how I see and perceive things. Of course, both graphic design and illustration require communication, conveying something to others.

What is challenging for you in the creative process?

In the creation of marketing graphics for INSPIO, it is more challenging for me to look at the work from a commercial perspective. In this type of work, it is crucial to create what people like and what will sell. What I personally like is not as important. And don't tell anyone, but I always try to infuse „that“ personal touch into my work :).

Do you engage in illustration outside of work?

From time to time, I create for external clients, occasionally make illustrations and prints just for myself or friends. And sometimes, I come up with smaller projects. But, honestly, currently, most of my things are in progress on the computer and waiting to see the light of day. I am a perfectionist and prefer when things are perfect and completed – down to the last detail. So, the world has to wait for some things.

We'll reveal one more thing about you – you've published a children's book. Can you tell us more about it?

For my practical high school graduation, I was tasked with illustrating (and therefore writing) a children's book about traditional crafts. Illustration was my strong suit during school, so it was a joy for me. I had to choose 5 crafts and then present them in an illustrated form for young readers. I chose crafts that were close to me and that I knew best, and in some cases, I had even tried them in real life.

How is a children's book illustrated?

he illustration process itself wasn't that challenging; the crucial part was choosing what and how to draw to best express a specific craft and its procedure. I knew what individual tools looked like and the approximate production process. However, I had to research some information. Although the entire graduation project, originally titled „Get to Know Our Crafts,“ was highly successful, it was still not a published book. It was just a graduation project featuring five crafts and only in one print.

Of course, I had planned to take this publication further, but right after school, I went abroad and didn't pursue it anymore. It then became a funny coincidence upon my return to Slovakia.

Such coincidences are indeed the best…

Yes, especially when you don't plan it at all. The whole process of publishing the book with a publishing house started because I forgot my notebook in a friend's car. On the way to the west, he gave me a ride to Sliač, where I lived at that time. Since I needed the notebook for work, in the following days, I had to make a trip to Bratislava.

On that day, I met with friends who were photographers, and I showed them my graduation project in the studio. They were excited and wanted it to be presented to a publishing house. A few days later, I received a text message that went something like this: „Today, I met someone from the publishing house, and I sent them your book right away. Good night.“ A few days later, the publishing house contacted me, expressing interest in my graduation project, and they wanted to meet with me. And it all started from there.

Even though I couldn't believe it myself, over a year later, thanks to the Slovart publishing house, I was already holding my book in my hands, titled: Džbány, košíky, medovníky – Spoznaj naše remeslá („Jugs, Baskets, Gingerbreads – Get to Know Our Crafts“). :)

For INSPIO, you created a collection of children's playmats. How was it?

Sometimes, I like to complicate things, so the most challenging part for me was to create in simplicity, without unnecessary elements, shapes, or details. However, when creating products and playmats for the little ones it is essential, so I tried to approach the entire creative process as simply as possible and as close to them as possible. I played mainly with colors, as they are one of the key communication tools for expressing emotions for children :)

What is your message for your author's collection?

Simplicity is what makes our lives easier. Let's learn that. In simplicity, beautiful details are hidden, creating a perfect whole..

Interview prepared for you by Lucka & Valentína, photos taken by Zuzana Jakabová