Sharp-Eye Skills 2014

2011 – Studio of Illustration, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
2012 – Illustration Studio at Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk
2013 – Graphic Design Department of the Faculty of Graphic Arts and Media Arts, Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław
2014 – ?

The Studio of Book Graphics was launched in 2009, when the accelerating technological evolution of digital carriers and channels of distribution gave rise to many discussions on the future of the book. The more radical participants of the debate envisaged the impending decline of the archaic code, and so postulated putting a definitive end to book design education whatsoever.
The students of workshop graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice themselves had proven these opinions invalid. Faced with technological change, they suddenly exhibited an odd, unprecedented in years, interest in book realizations. This had become a direct push for the studio to be formed.

„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (7)
Dobrosława Rurańska

The unexpected liking on the students’ side fit in with the general tendencies for exploring creative opportunities that could accompany a change in status of the book. A traditional volume, now playing a lesser role as a carrier of information, gains in importance as an editorial object, and an autonomous means of expression. This situation is favoured by the wide accessibility of digital printing technologies. Using these, author’s creation takes various forms – from unique self-publishing, even to books treated as a sculpture matter, and laser cut.
Books made in the Katowice studio are also free displays of author’s expression. We need to stress, though, that in this case content is integral with form, and thus our students’ works refer to the tradition of author’s book and liberature as well.
The studio is situated within the Chair of Workshop Graphics, which largely determines the character of designs made here. Students, working in the mode of individual search, often closer to artistic activities than to functional design, are after a form possibly most relevant to the given theme. Not each and every realized work takes a form of a traditional book, but the technological aspect – bookbinding and current exploration of local printing shops – is a major element of students’ education.

The title proneness to sharpness naturally characterizes most of the books made in the studio, proves the sense of humour and unrestrained imagination of their designers, and brings incessant joy to all involved in the projects.

„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (6)
Barbara Rupik
Anna Wieszczyk
Anna Wieszczyk

Running the studio, we always try and foster our students’ dark visions, and even stimulate their sensitive insides by suggesting topics of semestral works. To be completely honest, however, we need to say that our suggestions sometimes make students flee. Undeterred, we still invite you to our studio and would like to thank all the students involved in the exhibition.

Bogna Otto-Węgrzyn
Roman Kaczmarczyk
Katarzyna Wolny

„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (11)
Martyna Wawrowska
A text on the Illustration Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice simply must be a memoir about its founder, who launched and developed the studio, whose personality and experience determined its direction, shaped its curriculum as well as its character. The person described above is Professor Tomasz Jura (1943-2013), a remarkable artist-designer, uncommon pedagogue, a person of great charisma and sense of humour. I had worked with Professor Jura in the Illustration Studio of the Katowice Academy for almost 11 years. It was the sixth or so studio he would run. Despite his tremendous output in press and satirical drawing, he kept saying he was not an illustrator. Tomasz Jura started his professional career quite early, while still a student, and achieved all-Poland success in various poster competitions. He often persuaded his students not to hold up the onset of their professional life until after diploma exam. He encouraged them to participate in competitions, including the Satyrykon festival in Legnica, Poland, he advocated with all his heart. In the long years of his career, he had designed tens of posters – from political ones, through ads, up to the whole collection of cultural posters promoting Silesian artistic circles. One of the most important periods in his professional life was designing covers and illustrations for, now legendary, lifestyle “Ty i Ja” [You and Me] magazine, published in the 60s. and early 70s., and for the satirical “Szpilki” [Pins]. He also worked on graphics, screen printing mainly. The motto for this exhibition – Proneness to sharpness – accurately defines all of Tomasz Jura’s artistic works. It’s the sharpness of his determined composition, strong drawing, of his posters and press graphics, and, first and foremost, his satirical drawings. His colleagues and friends recall that Tomasz Jura would draw anytime and anywhere, in any circumstances. Jura lived according to the maxim: “not a single strokeless day.” He made use of a humble workshop: black ink, penholder, nib, whiteout. He would draw at home, at work, on the train. In the last years of his career, he focused on satirical drawing, what’s more, he won many awards in this field. The leitmotif of his works are mostly man-woman relations, mainly erotic ones, approached with sense of humour and strong proneness to sharpness. Jura’s most famous work, 365 positions for 365 days, had spread all over Poland, and the world even – often to the surprise and not to the knowledge of the artist himself – in thousands and thousands of copies. In his talk with Irma Kozina, refered to in Jura. Remanent [Jura. Inventory] monograph published by the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Jura laughed he had designed these cartoons to help young people. The anecdotes told by Professor himself, and by his friends as well, echo the balls he organized at the Academy, Academic Horse-Riding Club in Zbrosławice, events, exhibitions and fêtes of Silesian artistic circles. These stories are an essential element that could not be missing from the memoir about Tomasz Jura. The Professor was bound with the Katowice Academy, not only by a contract, but also by his heart. Since 1968, when he became an assistant professor, he had achieved all the ranks of academic career ladder, up to the full professor title. He held the functions of a dean and head of the Chair of Graphic Design, he launched and ran many events of essence for academic circle. The most important one would be Biennale of Students’ Applied Graphics AGRAFA, the event of 20-years-long tradition today, upheld by Professor’s former students, assistants and graduates. Jura had educated a major group of artists and academic teachers, as he proudly said himself on many occasions. The Illustration Studio has proved very popular among students. It is a studio “from choice,” which means it attracts those truly passionate about illustration. They are students who want to develop in this field, aspire to achieve originality and the level to allow them to work as illustrators in the future. They come to the studio holding various experience and skills; students of graphic design, painting, workshop graphics and industrial design. The studio’s environment is thus created by different personalities. The idea of variety Professor Jura advocated so strongly, enables development of actual preferences and artistic predispositions of an individual student. I try and follow this idea. Professor Jura encouraged his students to undertake their own topics that would reveal their passions and interests outside the field of art. They have often turned out surprising, and shown our students in the new, interesting light. Students’ works presented in this catalogue have been assorted as to interpret the motto for the exhibition – Proneness to sharpness. They tend to be naughty, upstream, high on graphic expression and emotional load. I’m interested in illustration as a general term – in illustrating phenomena, as well as social, sociological and scientific problems etc. It is a vast field of action, hard to embrace. I’d like to see my studio (and I’ve managed this to an extend) not as oriented at producing a particular publication, nor as a 19th-century illustrator. Those times have passed , he wrote in a text published in the Jura. Remanent monograph. His words make me think of the Illustration Studio in a very broad sense. Running the studio, my assistant Karolina Kornek and I encourage students to sharpness… of insight, of thought, and to sharpen their form. Anna Machwic Head of Illustration Studio Dean of Graphic Design Department
„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (10)
Tomasz Jura, Satyrykon 1981
„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (9)
Tomasz Jura, Satyrykon 1981
„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014
Dagmara Cieślica
„Skłonności do ostrości" 2014 (4)
Mateusz Rafalski


In 1899, Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. patent office, purportedly claimed that everything that can be invented has been invented. This thought, when taken literally, seems absurd at first, however, it may serve as a telling metaphor. As Marshall McLuhan said, the new media continue and develop the elements of their predecessors rather than fully replace them. Lev Manovich agrees with him, as he talks about strategies [which] are now free floating in our culture, available for use in new contexts. This observation seems valid, as along with technological progress, the use of modern devices more and more frequently resembles using basic tools humanity has known for ages. Even the scientists submerged in the element of cyberspace, like Jay David Bolter, perceive the computer hypertext as a continuation of the way literature was presented in the Homer times. The sequential and discursive Homer style, contrasting with a word fixed on the printed page, tends to be surprisingly similar to the “liquid” text of post-Gutenberg era. For a good reason we talk about the first and second orality epochs, divided with a period of print expansion. It is worth a mention, though, that the virtual hypertext is in fact a hybrid of dynamic speech and permanent record.

We may ask what place, in the virtual era, the products of traditional culture of print take. Based on the technology previously associated with “acceleration” of communication, today they are very often perceived as a relict, artistically explored by all kinds of “slow” movements.

Analysis of print as invention usually highlights its influence upon acceleration of modern changes, primarily connected with Reformation and further stream of subsequent revolutions. For ideologists, this newly invented technique turned out to be an extremely effective propaganda instrument. The vector for this revolutionary process is the ambiguous gspeed,h perceived by the contemporary philosopher Paul Virilio as a basic agent shaping our civilization, and being the motor of its destruction at the same time.

Along with development of printing techniques and processes of “mechanical reproduction” (after Walter Benjamin), speed translates into quantity, making the mass-production one of the attributes of modernity. What used to be a unit, had become a part of a rapidly growing and accelerating circulation – a loose conglomerate of private initiatives at first, getting organized into a network concentrated around the publishing giants. As the culture of print solidified, mechanisms of mass-sale contributed to forcing any unconventional enterprises out into the area of a remote, but very creative margin accumulating the most revolutionary potential. It was not uncommon for the non-commercial author’s publishing projects to result in a considerable success radiating also onto the market “core” of the main stream – so did the literary works by Marcel Proust, artistic books by William Blake or the avant-garde liberary bestseller The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by the 18th-century gpostmodernisth Laurence Sterne, to name a few. Thus the power of self-publishing phenomenon did not rely upon gspeedh nor gmass-production,h but primarily on the full independence of an author.

Going back to the source, we may assume that Martin Luther – the father of religious revolution – is in a sense the father of self-publishing as well.
The famous theses he published at his own cost, thanks to developing craft of print became known all over Germany in just two weeks, and circulated in Europe in a month, with no effort on the author’s side. The success of 1517 pamphlets brings to mind the scope of influence by some underground magazines (zines), used to present the society with most radical ideas.
Shaped in the zeal of ideological struggles, the independent circulation of flyers had stimulated artistic innovation: primarily made for decoration and entertainment only, grotesques, Vexierbild [hidden faces] and Medley prints became successfully annexed by the “involved” religious and political caricature. Independent publications of the kind had still more in common with editions of graphics (such as interventionist cycles by Hogarth or Goya), than with traditional books, based on the much less compacted message. It’s worth a notice that it was graphics that frequently anticipated the ideas which later were taken over by painting. As it was widespread and largely independent from the official patrons of the arts, graphics was free of the limitations characteristic of painting, and became a field for experiments and an intersection of the high and low culture influences.

“Egalitarian” graphics, strongest of all the media connected to the current political events, fashion, and customs, is an artistic technique closely related – according to Mieczysław Porębski – to the “ regional,” carnival – ludic element. This very movement gave rise to the unorthodox and anarchic fumiste [jokers], who published in the press first, and then assembled, as Arts Incoherents, their own independent artistic anti-salon, along with the whole line of “anti-catalogues.” These still remain the main source of knowledge on their proto-conceptual strategies, later drawn upon by futurists, dadaists and surrealists alike. Independent publishing circulation was one of the drives for the manifestos of the first and second avant-garde as well, with the full spectrum of their counter-cultural effluence.

As digital media developed, and thus the Internet has become the space offering the most effective communication tools, the idea of self-publishing within the traditional culture of print has been remodeled. A contemporary artbook – a customized product – functions like an inexpensive, gserial unith piece of art. The collector’s and tactile (tangible) values of bibliophilic publications have gained importance, as they correspond well with the haptic aesthetics of the iPad era. With the garchaich printing techniques easily available, the exclusive objects-books more frequently paid homage to liberary tradition, promoting total literature, inextricably tied with its physical carrier. Effective grevolutionsh (developing dynamically in the tangle of virtual space) yielded primacy to more private grevelationsh (thus – by etymology – unveiling / discovery), presented on the pages of artbooks and artzines by their emancipated authors. This declaration of independence went hand in hand with the passion for rareness, typical of oddities collectors on the threshold of early modern period. For many ages, private cabinets of curiosities functioned as autonomic artistic creations, formed through compilation of objects of various origin and treated as metaphorical descriptions of gthe world in miniature.h Collections would sometimes undergo gvirtualization,h with original objects being replaced with their graphic representations, and as such accumulated in hefty catalogues – this could have been a prelude to the 19th-century initiative of Mundaneum, the library its creators (Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine) assumed should gather together all the world’s knowledge.

Contemporary artbooks – as gexhibition-booksh – more often than not resemble private collections of peculiar findings, enclosed between the front and back cover. These Duchamp’s gready-madesh themselves become exhibits in collections, where names of newly discovered worlds run along spines of books crammed on bibliophile-collector’s shelf.

Jakub Woynarowski

Natalia Remesz
Sharp-Eye Skills 2014 (4)
Martyna Gaszczyk
Sharp-Eye Skills 2014 (3)
Jadwiga Lemańska
Sharp-Eye Skills 2014 (2)
Natalia Pietruszewska

Katowice Fine Arts Academy students’ exhibition
Modrzejewska Theatre, Legnica
(4 June – 30 August 2014)

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