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We are super happy to introduce to you this week’s meet the maker… Anna Niklova.

Anna Niklova is a freelance illustrator based in London. In her practice, she aims to nudge and subvert simple expectations through colourful play and visual narrative in print, publishing, and hand-drawn 2D animation. She has illustrated and created custom lettering for two children’s books, Chris, throw me the yellow one! (2019) and Esther (2019). These were both published in the Czech Republic alongside several small editions of art books and zines.  

Enjoy reading more of what Anna had to say in her meet the maker interview.

What attracted you to your craft? 

When I was introduced to RISO printing, I immediately fell in love with its subtle colours, their transparency and overprinting quality allowing for unique colour mixing, as well as its specific soft grain and texture. I have been combining the techniques of digital hand-drawing and Riso printing ever since, really enjoying getting to know the Riso printing community by learning and printing in various studios around London and New York. 

What does your typical day look like? 

Currently as a freelance illustrator, I love the freedom of being able to organize my own day, splitting it between communicating with clients, noting down ideas, drawing and finally printing as well as binding if I’m working on a publication. 

When you’re not working / studying what do you enjoy doing? 

If I get a chance, I love to take walks, visit galleries and see current exhibitions, as well as reading and watching films. 

Does your product have an environmental focus/does it support the circular economy?

The products and concepts do not have environmental focus but the RISO printing itself is a highly sustainable and energy efficient printing method, as the inks are soy based and non-toxic and the stencils are made from plant fibers. And all papers used for the publication and the prints are fully recycled. 

What is the USP (unique selling point) for your products? 

OFF THE GRID is a limited Riso-printed, hand-bound and self-published edition of 50 books comprising of original drawings that present a unique meeting ground between the definition of a book, and a notebook, playing with the ideas of inherent certainties that we are constantly taught in educational environments. 

OFF THE GRID Notebook £35

Where do you find / source your inspiration for designs? 

I take inspiration from what surrounds me daily, taking familiar things and subverting my own expectations about them by drawing them together in strange interactions. For this collection in particular, I was inspired by a simple school notebook as an object, as well as textbooks and learning materials such as diagrams and tools, and the various grid systems upon which we build our understanding of the world around us on. 

Please can you provide a little more info on how your interest in design started and developed? 

I have always loved to draw and studied illustration in high school as well as for my BA. As I kept moving towards a very clean, technical, and logical way of drawing, I very much profited from the MA in Graphic Communication Design at CSM, looking into design as more of an organized visual system (as opposed to illustration). My grandmother having been a toy designer, I have also always been inspired by her amazing design sense for simplicity, playfulness and colour. 

Do you have any favourite items in the collection? 

My favourite is probably the publication OFF THE GRID itself, as it is the central piece of the collection, of my MA thesis, and because of its a quality as a book allowing for multiplicity of pages, visuals and concepts. 

How would you summarise your collection is a few sentences, words? 

The collection circles around the Riso-printed, hand-bound and self-published publication OFF THE GRID, which presents an illustrated version of a notebook turned on its head, following a loose, purely visual narrative of a simple circle traveling through its pages. The spreads, as well as the individual prints that are part of the collection, show various educational environments that attempt to unsettle and subvert the fundamental scientific rules of physics, gravity, and space that we are taught in school, as well as anticipated behaviors of familiar shapes, forms, and substances. 

Shop Anna’s Prints Here

What are your hopes for the future/ where would you like to take your design career/ collection? 

I want to continue drawing, printing and publishing as much as possible, with the dream of one day opening my own RISO printing and publishing studio. In my illustration, I would also love to continue with the processes of play and subversion through drawing and animation that I have begun working with during my MA at Central Saint Martins.   

Join us next week when we share another maker from this meet the makers series. In the meantime, make sure to follow us over on Instagram to keep up to date with all things not just a shop.