Bessa (Barbora Kmecova) is a Slovak illustrator who's playful, proportionally-challenged figures wiggle, whirl and dance their way through imaginative worlds of wonder, yet are always grounded in a thoughtful, conceptual reasoning. With a diverse range of clients that span editorial, branding, clothing and products, the future is looking as bright for Bessa as do her illustrations. Here we chat to her about inspiration, reflection and professionalism.
Could you define the style/approach of your work?
Out of scale, decandent and full of humour.
Which piece of work or project have you learned the most from?
The most important project for me personally was 'Freedom' created for the 2019 Lustr Festival of illustration in Prague, which was a series of illustrations where I reflected on what the term freedom means in a contemporary society full of social pressure and consumerism. This project was a turning point for me because it was here that my illustrative style and thinking was born and anchored. It was really my first project as a professional illustrator and it gave me enough courage to continue on my illustration journey. And also, when I am ever in doubt or struggle with the creative process I go back to a project like this to reflect on it.
Which illustrator alive or dead do you most admire and why?
I admire a lot of illustrators, especially those who can brilliantly use illustrative metaphor to conceptually or humorously capture a theme and not repeat themselves. A few of my most favourite illustrators are Maria Frade, Risto Avramoski, Igor Bastidas, Fabio Buoncuore and the Czech illustrator Marek Ehrenberger. What can I say... I just love vector illustration!
What is the most challenging aspect for you of being a ‘working' illustrator?
For me, the most challenging aspect of our work is bringing a new idea to life in a limited amount of time - and to not repeat myself!
Above: 'On the Edge' Advertising campaign for HROT magazine
Who would be your ideal client to work for and why?
The ideal client is the one who gives you enough time and money!
What do you think defines ‘good illustration’?
I think good illustrators are defined by two aspects: First is the conceptual part. When the illustrator is able to capture a subject in a brilliant metaphoric way, it demonstrates good professionalism. Secondly is craft or the illustrator’s style. If you can see a certain confidence in the illustrator’s style and how he/she demonstrates maturity and you just can’t wait to see what comes next.
Above: Festival poster / Above Right: 'The Interspace' editorial illustration for HOST magazine
If you weren’t an illustrator what would you be?
If I hadn't been an illustrator, I probably would have been a lawyer or some other similar "serious" profession that my parents wanted.
What actor/actress would play you in a film about your life and what would the name of that film be?
I wish it could be Penelope Cruz in a movie directed by Wes Anderson called “The great Illustrator's journey" with the subtitle "How not to really do it” :D
What was the last film that made you cry (in sadness or in laughter)?
The Braves, I watched it on Mubi. A really nice story about friendship but tragicomoc, so I cried like a child.
Above: Editorial Illustration for Beneficial Shock! Issue 7
See more of Bessa's work at bessaillustration.com