Sensuali Blog: Meet Ewa Żak
Ewa Żak : Graphic Design Goddess and All Around Badass

Jules: So let me just start this interview off by saying what a fangirl of your work I am! I noticed you have some tarot-inspired pieces. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re into astrology?

Ewa: A little bit. I mean, I’m not like the biggest freak, but I really enjoy the symbolism behind tarot. I feel like in our collective mind, there are just some symbols that are imprinted and I love how they are used in tarot cards. I know my chart and stuff like that but I try not to be overly attached. 

Jules: Amazing! So it’s cool if I ask you what your sun, moon, and rising are? 

Ewa: Yes! So, my sun is in Pisces. What’s yours?

Jules: So, in Western astrology, I’m an Aries. But I recently went to a Vedic astrologer and he told me my sun sign was Pisces. For someone who pretends to not care that much about astrology, I lowkey had a total identity crisis. One is fire the other is water and now I’m just like so conflicted about everything. Although I feel like the Vedic system is the OG and therefore more legit.  

Ewa: I feel you! I recently discovered Vedic astrology myself. Luckily my sun sign didn’t change although the rest of my chart resonated a lot more with the Vedic system. My moon is in Sagittarius and my rising is in Leo. 

Jules: What a fun and creative combo! So tell me a bit about your origin story. You’re from Poland and currently based in Berlin, right? Dying to hear about the evolution of the talented artist named Ewa. Where did it all start?

Ewa: So yes, I was born in Poland and I was living there until I finished my studies at university. Then I decided to move to Berlin. I had visited Berlin a couple of times before and the first time I entered the city, I just had a feeling that I would like to live there at some point. And here I am, five years later. I don’t know if I want to stay here forever, but at the moment, this is the place where I’m living. Berlin’s winters are really harsh. At the moment, it’s really beautiful. The last couple of days, we have gotten a lot of sun. So, it’s very fresh and cold, but sunny. But maybe I’d like to try living somewhere warmer at some point. 

Jules: Nice! I totally relate to how you described visiting Berlin for the first time. That’s exactly how Brooklyn was for me. I instantly fell in love with the vibrant, creative energy and somehow have been based there for seven fucking years. I’m just like, “How did that happen?” So did you study art in school / did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in the visual arts? 

Ewa: I didn’t study illustration, but I did study something artistic and design related. And yes, I always kind of knew. I was always drawing as a kid. Then for some time, my focus was on the piano. I tried out music but eventually, I came back to drawing. Basically, since I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to study industrial design. But then when I got to university, I realized that industrial design has nothing to do with the artistic side. 

So after I finished my studies, I started working as a graphic designer, and drawing was always something I did on the side. Then a couple of years back, I started doing more digital illustrations and things like that, and I’ve slowly been able to build a freelance career out of that. 

Jules: Cool! So, tell me more about your style and what inspires you. I love the feminine colors and minimalist lines you use in your work. I get kind of a mid-century meets surrealist vibe from your portfolio, and I notice that your subject matter is very nature inspired. After I looked through your online portfolio, I was like, “This speaks to my soul so much!” 

Ewa: Thank you so much for your kind words. My inspiration comes from so many different things. There’s definitely some symbolism in my work. Music also really inspires me. I feel like music can help me with the narration of my illustrations. Nature as well. Like today I went to the park and felt inspired to record the mixtape kind of vibe that I felt while there and then convey it in a visual way. 

I’m also inspired by tarot and what is happening in astrology, as well as what’s happening in the world – like the changing of the seasons. There’s a lot of Pagan influences in Polish culture that I definitely draw from. Another source of inspiration for me lately has been circuses. I recently had a conversation with someone about how there is such a specific style to the circus, and so I decided to explore those aesthetics in my art. 

Jules: Love it! I am very into Pagan stuff myself. You mentioned that part of your artistic evolution involved switching from more hand drawings to digital illustrations. Tell me more about that process and the different mediums you like to play around with. 

Ewa: So I still really like using sketchbooks. Depending on what I’m working on, sometimes I’ll start out by drawing something on paper and then color it digitally. Hand drawings definitely give a completely different feeling then drawing on an iPad. I like the mistakes that happen when drawing by hand. Digital art gives you too many options. You can delete stuff you didn’t like easily or go five steps back.

When you create on paper, maybe you can erase or cover something up but the options are more limited. I’ve also recently gotten into cut outs. I’ll start using colorful paper and cut things out. For this one *shows me a piece she just finished * I folded the paper and drew half of it on one side and then cut it out, so it’s symmetrical. 

Jules: So cool! This reminds me of block print stamps. I could totally see you using these kind of geometric designs on textiles. That would make a fire pattern for a dress or something!

Ewa: Yes, that’s a great idea.

Sensuali Blog: Original Art by Ewa Żak
Circus Square by Ewa Żak

Jules: So, tell me about 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do. How did you get involved with that project? When the team saw the illustrations you did for this book, we were like, “Oh my gosh, this is so Sensuali!”

Ewa: So I posted my work on Dribble, which is a site for designers. At the time, I was going through a phase where I was drawing a lot of very feminine, sensual things. A publisher from the UK contacted me expressing interest in me doing illustrations for a book. 

I had only started posting stuff online about six months before and wasn’t really expecting anything to come from it. When it comes to art, we are all very sensitive and tell ourselves, “I don’t know if it’s good enough.” So when I heard that someone wanted to use my illustrations for a book, my jaw just dropped. And then when I learned what the topic was, I was just like, “Wow. This is crazy!”

I was tasked with illustrating 40 topics that an author by the name of Kate Sloan had written about. The book is all about discovering your kinks and fantasies, so it was an interesting journey for me to learn about all these different kinks and what stuff is out there. It was also  interesting to explore different ways of portraying such a topic. We didn’t want it to be vulgar, so I stayed away from illustrating genitals and facial expressions by doing a lot of cropping, closeups, and blending of bodies.

Jules: I feel like the facelessness is perfect because the viewer can imagine themselves as the subject matter and connect more to the art. 

Ewa: Exactly! It also adds a bit of mystery. To make the bodies as realistic as possible, I often referenced real images because otherwise, it looked unnatural. This led to me watching a lot of porn because where else are you going to find an image of a threesome? I think that was the most time consuming part of the project – finding and capturing the proper images to base my illustrations on. 

Jules: That’s actually pretty hilarious! How would you describe sex and dating culture in Berlin versus Poland versus other places? 

Ewa: I don’t know what’s happening right now in the culture that much because I’m in a monogamous relationship. But I think Berlin is a place where people come to discover themselves. It’s a place where everything is possible. There are sex clubs. A lot of people are in non-monogamous relationships or just aren’t even interested in being in any type of relationship. I think it’s a really good place if you want to discover what you want and who you are or what type of relations you want to create with people.

Poland is a different story because it’s known for being more conservative. But I think a lot of people’s perception of Poland comes from the government saying bullshit that isn’t necessarily representative of what most of the people are thinking. It’s hard to say since I’m not living there anymore, but none of my friends back home are homophobic and they all say that things aren’t as bad as the media portrays it. Overall, I feel like everywhere is moving towards being more tolerant and open-minded.

Jules: Totally! I feel like after Trump was elected as president, there was so much media attention about backwards and intolerant Americans are. But in reality, only a small faction of people are actually that hardcore racist, homophobic, etc. But to be fair, I live in one of the most liberal places in the country, it’s hard to know for sure. It feels like we’re becoming more open-minded, but there’s always going to be backlash to progress so I think that also kind of explains why all these extreme examples of hatred and violence keep popping up. 

Ewa: Yes! I honestly don’t know too much about what is happening in Poland at the moment but I do know that some smaller regions in Poland have declared themselves LGBT-free zones. But it’s like how can they even really enforce something like that? It’s such bullshit. Although my friends told me that if you were in one of those places and logged into a hookup app as a male looking for another male, a warning would pop up saying, “This is an LGBT-free zone.” 

Jules: Holy shit, that’s crazy! Such big brother is watching vibes.

Ewa: Yeah, exactly. And of course, there will be people who will be disrespectful towards others. Like no matter what, there will always be total assholes out there. But overall, I think a lot of people are becoming educated and more open-minded.

Sensuali Blog: Original Art by Ewa Żak
Ewa Żak is a master at creating super sexy images that are tasteful and sophisticated.

Jules: How would you describe the tolerance for sex workers where you live? In Brooklyn, there’s almost a cachet to being a sugar baby. It gives you an edge. But I do very much exist in this little bohemian bubble of free-spirited creative types, so I’m sure sex work is way more normalized and accepted in my world than it would be in most circles. 

Ewa: So, I know some people who do sex work here butI don’t know much about the culture or legalities to be honest. I do know that in Germany, there’s a lot sex worker activists fighting for their rights. For example, I recently learned that PayPal sometimes blocks people’s accounts if they find out that their incomes come from sex work and that’s created a lot of frustration within the sex work community. 

I also heard that in Ireland, they made up this law where the sex worker themselves don’t get punished but the clients do. This just ends up creating the same problems because people will be deterred from seeking sex work services and then the sex workers will be the ones who end up suffering. And also, these kind of policies drive sex work more underground and make it less safe. 

It’s been interesting to see how OnlyFans has evolved and normalized sex work. I think it’s great because it’s our bodies and our lives and we should be able to decide how we want to make money. The need is there so why shouldn’t people be able provide the proper services for these needs? 

Jules: Hell yeah! It’s just like classic, government-trying-to-control-women’s-bodies bullshit.

Ewa: Exactly. And so many people don’t even realize how much we are taking from the culture of sex work. Like, pole dancing classes or the way people dress. We owe a lot to the sex work community for their contributions.

Jules: Totally! So next question: I see that you promote your work across multiple social network platforms. How do you find balance being an artist in the modern world? As a creative myself, I see these platforms as amazing tools for marketing yourself and I also get a lot of inspiration from other artists whose work I see featured there. But sometimes, it gets to a point where I’m like, “Omg, this is too much. I need to take a break.” 

Ewa: I recently uninstalled the Instagram app from my phone and I noticed that I’m using it less. So if I decide to post something online, I just use my iPad. That’s been really helpful for avoiding mindlessly opening the app and scrolling. Since doing that a couple weeks ago, I already notice that more ideas are flowing out of me. It’s hard, but I think it’s important to practice that sort of self-discipline.

Jules: I feel that! These tech companies literally design this shit to give us dopamine hits every time we get a like and it’s tough to not fall into the blackhole. 

Ewa: Yes, it’s like, “Press this button. It’s colorful and beautiful!” I think it’s also hard as an artist because the bigger you get, the more pressure you feel to promote yourself and grow your brand. I’m still figuring out how I want to go with my career. For now, I’m just really enjoying drawing and thankfully have stopped being shy when it comes to putting my work out there.  

I feel like if you don’t show what you’re doing, you miss out on opportunities. And you just never know how many people might actually be able to relate to the stuff that you do or find enjoyment from it. So it’s good to share but it’s also important not to depend too much on external validation. 

I recently listened to a podcast where artists were talking about how they would like to create a different platform for creatives to show their work. I think Dribble is a bit dead these days. The podcast mentioned how artists are changing the way they make their art just so it fits into the Instagram square format. And then there’s also artists who post videos of themselves painting because they want to be relevant and visible across different platforms. 

But the process of painting takes time and to me, it’s often not so much about the process as it is about the final work and how people take it in and respond to it. If you post your art on Instagram, it’s likely to just get lost in people’s feeds because people are just scrolling through and not taking the time to meditate on it. It feels ridiculous at times. I remember scrolling through and seeing a bunch of war news from Ukraine mixed in with selfies and pictures of food and it just felt crazy to me to have all that information blended together. 

Jules: It can definitely feel like an overload! Everything you’re saying is reminding me of that, “Is life imitating art or is art imitating life?” quote. It’s pretty wild to think about just how much influence these new technologies have over what and how artists are creating. It’s like you have to play the game to stay relevant, but to what end? 

Ewa: Yes, exactly. 

Ewa Żak : Solitary Beach
Solitary Beach by Ewa Żak

Jules: Okay, so my next question may seem a bit random. I took a deep dive into your Instagram and noticed that you’re into skateboarding. You have some skateboard inspired artwork and it looks like you are pretty active in the skateboarding community in Berlin. As someone who loves skateboard culture but is far too lanky and clumsy to actually participate, I’m a bit of a skate culture voyeur and I find it especially badass when I meet female skateboarders. How did you get it into?

Ewa: So I actually started skateboarding very late in life. I was 27 and I started about three years ago when Corona started. I had actually been planning to work at a surf camp in Portugal, so I could learn how to surf. And then the pandemic hit and I was unable to make the trip. So I was just like, “Okay, what can I do?” 

I’ve always been interested in skateboarding and I did it a little bit when I was a teenager. But there weren’t really any skate parks in my town. So yeah, I started skating here in Berlin because I had plenty of free time and I just fell in love. I found a really great community and have made so many friends.

It’s very challenging, especially in the beginning, and I think especially when you start older because obviously, the chances of hurting yourself are higher. But it’s very rewarding. You will practice doing something 1,000 times and then eventually, the thing you’re trying to do actually happens the way you want it to. I’m amazed by how much more comfortable and skilled I’ve gotten at shredding since I started. 

It’s also just so nice to have a hobby I can do outside instead of spending all my free time in bars or clubs or just sitting around with friends. I’ve also noticed that skaters are so creative, both in the way they skate and in their tendency to turns towards music and art when they get injured.

Jules: That makes so much sense and I definitely get that creative sensibility from the skaters I know. Even hearing you speak, I notice the parallels between the way you describe your approach to skating versus your artistic process – in terms of the discipline, the practice, and the risks you take as you get more comfortable. 

Ewa: Yes!

Jules: This has been such an insightful conversation! I have just a couple more questions for you, I promise. So I love the work you’ve done for Sensuali. I feel like the simple, sexy images you’ve created really convey the brand. What drew you to joining the Sensuali team and what inspires the work you’ve created for Sensuali so far? 

Ewa: So, it was Flo who contacted me. I think he saw my images on Dribble. He told me that you guys were planning to make this platform for sex workers and clients to connect in a way that was very open and inclusive, and I really liked the concept. 

That idea of inclusivity inspired me to create images depicting as many different characters as possible, in terms of people from different backgrounds, genders, and so on.

Jules: Fabulous! You’ve done an amazing job. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. It’s been so great getting to know you and I’m excited to see more of your work showcased as the Sensuali brand grows. 

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Jules

Jules

Author

Based in Brooklyn, Jules has dedicated her twenties towards harnessing her pussy power, exploring the muse, whore, and wild woman archetypes along the way. When not blogging, you can find her sweating the toxins out in a hot yoga class or sipping a matcha latte at a pretentious coffee shop, whilst she scribbles away in her journal.


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