Q&A With Illustrator Karolina Burdon

London is known for its large Polish community - and one of its most recent additions is illustrator Karolina Burdon. We met several years ago working on Amelia's Magazine and have kept in touch as friends and worked on other projects together in the years since. She kindly agreed to be interviewed and show off some of her work for your viewing pleasure. I also thought it would be interesting to get a view on London (and Londoners) from a visitor's perspective. Enjoy ...

What made you want to move to London?

I think I must have inherited all the Nomad genes that run in my family, as I'm the only one who moves around so often. Jokes aside, I needed a change and London was the first choice because of its energy and multitude of anything and everything - and easy access to all kinds of inspiration when it comes to creative work. This city is my 'stopover' for the second time and it feels like home. 

As a Polish girl in London, what are the misconceptions you've encountered?

"Oh my cleaner’s name is also Karolina.” I get this or similar type of reaction when meeting new people so many times, I can’t believe it still happens. What kind of response do people expect? The janitor’s namer at my uni was Kevin, so should I assume that all Kevins work as janitors?! I am bored with stereotypes that Polish people are extremely Catholic, drink vodka and eat pierogi and work as cleaners or builders. Some do these very jobs, just as do some German, British, Italian or others! Some do different jobs, that’s it. Get over it. Nationality or skin and eye colour are only a tiny fraction of who a person is - if indeed it matters at all.

Favourite places to eat/shop/go out?

I like East London: Cream Shoreditch for coffee and while for lunch I like Lumberjack cafe on Camberwell Church St.

Monmouth Cafe. The Gallery Cafe, in Bethnal Green for vegan breakfasts. I also like to have lunches in the City. There’s a decent selection of street food there and I always find it amusing and refreshing to see elegant women and men in suits eating street food from cartons. Clubbing is not my thing, but I like going out occasionally. I never say no to a good gig. And I love going to random places. You never know what kind of gem remains unnoticed.

What first got you into illustration?

I’ve drawn since I remember, my favourite subjects were people. Then fairytales. For a time I wanted to be a painter but it didn’t happen but acrylic paints are still among my tools. I enjoy the challenges of editorial illustration, the restrictions and freedom in one, time pressure. 

How would you describe your illustration style?

Maybe slightly quirky and textured? And colourful. I think there’s an echo of old French comic books I used to browse through when I was a kid. I love getting commissions where I can play with collages and paints. I like experimenting - so describing a “style” is very difficult. Is there one? I just decorate my natural way of drawing with colours.

What's your favourite city in the world and why?

Vienna. It took me a while to get used to its dignified architecture, with its gold, wide streets, and very badly dressed people but then I fell in love. It is a very green city, slower-paced when compared to other capitals, and it offers great food and wine and a wide range of possibilities to spend your free time. Under this monumental - sometimes oppressive - architecture and difficult history, there’s creativity, curiosity and freedom. Vienna has a liberating and soothing effect on people. 

Favourite fragrance? 

Kenzo Homme.

Check out more of Karolina's work at www.karolinaburdon.com