Przemek Sobocki is an illustrator, art director and designer based in Tokyo. Originally from Poland, Sobocki has worked for clients such as BALLY, Louis Vuitton, Canon, ISETAN, Alain Mikli, Beams and more. His editorial work includes publications such as Harper’s Bazaar Taiwan, Numero Tokyo, Elle Japan among others. Przemek has also collaborated with renowned designers such as Stephen Jones and Manish Arora as well as with recording artists such as Joanna Wong.
Known for his simple yet vibrant and energetic illustrations, Sobocki is a quiet, almost enigmatic figure who prefers to let his work speak for itself. We catch up with him for a quick chat on his work, creativity and fashion.
Please briefly introduce yourself and your practice.
I’m Przemek Sobocki. I’m a Tokyo-based creative and I mostly work in the fields of illustration, art direction and display design. I received the V&A Editorial Illustration award in 2005 and some of my clients include BEAMS Tokyo, BALLY and Louis Vuitton.
What attracted you to Japan?
I like the feeling of being anonymous in Japan. People in Japan are also much more polite and respectful of others’ personal space, which I appreciate deeply.
Japan is also such a creative country, as evidenced by the expressions of culture it has produced. Japanese fashion, visual arts and even moving images such as Anime are all so unique – You can easily recognise a Comme des Garcon garment or a Takashi Murakami artwork. It really is a culture where you can express creativity more freely.
The U.Mi-1 brand celebrates cross-cultural experiences and how art and fashion can unite us. Has living in a foreign culture influenced your creativity?
I think all creatives will always be influenced by where they live but how everyone absorbs this influence is different.
How do you think your creativity translates across cultures and barriers?
I think good work can translate across these barriers easily and I don’t think much about cultures and barriers. It is not my goal in my work, unless a particular project requires it from me. I describe my own style as being poetic, elegant and mysterious which I think are very universal themes that everyone can relate to.
You create a lot of work for Fashion brands. What do you find inspiring about Fashion?
I think fashion is a form of personal expression that people can use not only to express their own identity but also to make a statement to society about society itself.
I like that Fashion is capable of reflecting the sheer scale of human diversity. Everyone dresses differently and this individuality can often contain mysterious elements that make each person’s style interesting.
What is your approach to working with Fashion brands?
My work goes in two main directions – story telling and problem solving. When I’m working on an editorial for magazines, I see myself as a storyteller, telling stories through images, more akin to a photographer than a typical Illustrator. The project is planned and then executed with some adjustments along the way.
Problem solving projects are those related to design: space design, packaging etc. Here, my approach is more as a designer and Art Director. I am still telling stories and using graphics but in a less linear way than with editorial works.
What projects are you currently working on/ planned for the future? What do you hope to explore in these projects?
I’m continuing to work extensively in illustration and display design but I hope to design more personal projects in the near future.