A Creative State of Mind

–       Lawrence Edwards meets Martina Paukova, Graphic Designer & illustrator.

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Martina won first place in our design competition for the ‘SAF London Arts – A Changing Landscape?’ conference.

The SAF Team and I gravitated towards Martina’s piece as her abstract style of design and creative expression lead us to believe that her design best embodied the spirit of the conference (‘Innovative ways of getting things done’).

Martina is an innovator; her use of unfamiliar shapes, within a defined structure spoke to me personally. I associated the relationship between the rigid outlines of the piece and the unconventional shapes flowing within; as being indicative of the more conventional approaches to getting things done being employed within the arts industry in contrast to the Southwark Arts Forum stance (adaptable, creative and innovative).

I was excited to meet our competition winner at the ‘SAF London Arts‘conference, which enabled me to gain a greater insight into her creative mind.

Everybody is creative and everybody can draw, your creativity just needs to be nurtured”.

I became curious about the source of her thinking and I wanted to know what was the cause behind Martina’s creativity – was it simply a Creative State of Mind?

Martina’s creative story began in Slovakia (her place of birth) – Martina always knew she could draw, however she grew up in an environment that didn’t particularly nurture her imagination, she initially started with a degree in politics graduating in 2008. But her creativity found a way to shine through;

“I was a teenager when it first hit me that I might actually possess a creative vein of some sort”.


Whether it was in the form of self-initiated DIY projects, textile puppets or up-market designs for soup packaging, Martina’s imagination found an outlet — Martina’s mind was turning her towards a new direction.

Although whilst living in Slovakia Martina remained relatively uninspired she discovered a local art club that enabled her to hone her skills with activities such as; making sculptures, drawings and collages all of which she took in her stride.

 After graduating from University Martina then took the brave decision;

I decided to follow my inner calling and start all over”.

She hasn’t looked back since…

This calling led Martina to move to London, and begin a BTEC course in Art and Design at the Kensington and Chelsea College, later progressing to a Graphic Communication course at the London College of Communication. It was this combination of educational stimulus and a new environment that helped Martina to realise the power of visuals. Martina had become truly absorbed by this new creative world and gained a new creative outlook on life.

When discussing her own particular style; Martina describes her work as being very illustrative in character and fairly straightforward. Often working with warm, earthy colours and strong lines her illustrations result in a very handmade feel. Martina enjoys using the most mundane objects as subject matter, adding her creative revelations which result in a surreal twist (much like Martina’s creative journey thus far);

“I think it is this combination of the everyday materials within unusual contexts which makes my illustration accessible and helps my audience relate more directly”.

The creation process for these pieces usually comprises of a combination of digital and analogue design; Martina first begins by drawing by hand, this is then scanned, coloured and finally tweaked using a computer.


When I asked Martina; “What is your approach to design”; Martina quoted Milton Glaser:

“Milton Glaser in his 1974 interview noted that; whereas a design must convey a given body of information, the essential function of art is to intensify one’s perception of reality”.

“When I conceptualize a design, I tend to look at the problem solving and communicative aspects and how well it ties in with the visual element, whereas with a more artistic/free-flowing piece I tend to just absorb my surroundings. I believe the key is to keep one’s eyes and mind open at all times”.


Martina’s work is mostly college based and self-initiated, however she is also working as a freelancer and currently is working on several assignments and competition briefs to help flex her creative muscles. Martina continues to nurture her creativity, as growth and maturity are two very important aspects to her work.


Martina takes inspiration from everything’ “Be it a discarded children’s shoe on the pavement or an article about pruning clippers from Saturday’s Observer magazine”.

“Illustration as a medium is captivating enough to keep me going relentlessly, it’s enough to make the eyes and mind wonder”.

Illustration encompasses everything she is fascinated by; tones, forms, words and layered meanings. To Martina illustration has the capacity to link and communicate, with an immediate connection to the everyday social-economical and cultural life.

Martina Paukova went from Politics to Pencils and Graphic Pads Martina is a true innovator and an advocate of the type of creative thinking that in the past has lead its pioneers down the path of true greatness.

I came away from my conversation with Martina with a fresh outlook on creativity; I believe that many of us at some point have heard that very same inner calling but sometimes have been too timid or caught up in the ease of life’s routines to answer. Martina heard, answered the collect call and accepted the charges (the realisation that politics did not embody her). You don’t necessarily need an organic start to become great, everybody has the capacity to be creative and crucial that more of us within the art industry continue to explore innovative ways of getting things done.

“Things tend to come to you when you least expect them, so never give up. Try to stay focused and motivated, become a part of a larger social community from the similar field and try to make yourself visible. Show, discuss, and appreciate. Keep making things and keep your eyes and mind open. Take the inspiration from the most mundane things, they are worth it. Also listen to your friends, mentors, tutors and especially listen to you inner voice”.


Martina Paukova.

Thank you.


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