Welcome to Karolful.Designs



My name is Karoli­na Szymkiewicz and I am a free­lance sur­face design­er and an illus­tra­tor. I am orig­i­nal­ly from Poland (Wrocław) and have lived in the UK since 2006. I grad­u­at­ed with a Mas­ters in Illus­tra­tion from Edin­burgh Col­lege of Art in Sep­tem­ber 2011, for which I was award­ed a dis­tinc­tion. Not long after this I moved to Leeds and set up my free­lance prac­tice as Karol­ful. 

Build­ing on the theme of my Mas­ters, ini­tial­ly I con­tin­ued to cre­ate real­is­tic and fig­u­ra­tive illus­tra­tions inspired by con­tem­po­rary dance. This per­son­al explo­ration result­ed in numer­ous exhi­bi­tions on the sub­jects of the human body as a medi­um of expres­sion. Along­side this my prac­tice also diver­si­fied great­ly, such that over the past sev­en years I’ve applied my skills to a wide range of com­mer­cial projects. These include work­ing in char­ac­ter and graph­ic design, pro­duc­ing illus­tra­tions for games, sto­ries, appar­el, phone apps, logos, wed­ding invites and even album cov­ers. 

Run­ning through all my work has always been a deep pas­sion for draw­ing. I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly expe­ri­enced in work­ing lin­ear­ly and in tra­di­tion­al pen­cil, but these days I am also as com­fort­able draw­ing dig­i­tal­ly. In fact, I espe­cial­ly enjoy get­ting find­ing cre­ative ways to com­bine the two. 


Over the past sev­en years I have, nat­u­ral­ly, begun to spe­cialise and my work is now increas­ing­ly focused on sur­face design. This is some­thing that has grown out of my long stand­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kidspat­tern, who work close­ly with sev­er­al large Chi­nese kidswear brands. Ini­tial­ly I was involved sole­ly as an out­sourced illus­tra­tor but quick­ly expand­ed into work­ing on sea­son­al pat­tern designs for a range of children’s cloth­ing (up to 5 years old). For over half a decade I have now worked with them annu­al­ly on cre­at­ing both Autumn-Win­ter and Spring-Sum­mer col­lec­tions. More recent­ly we have also begun expand­ing our sur­face design port­fo­lio beyond fash­ion, by work­ing with oth­er clients on ele­ments of their brand­ing such as pack­ag­ing and merchandise.

I’m very enthu­si­as­tic about my work as a sur­face design­er. I find explor­ing a new brief and going through the process of pat­tern devel­op­ment very reward­ing. I also appre­ci­ate how this exper­i­men­ta­tion has led me to devel­op­ing new skills and draw­ing tech­niques. I have also learnt a con­sid­er­able amount about the fin­er points required in file prepa­ra­tion for print pro­duc­tion and rel­ish the chal­lenge of work­ing cre­ative­ly with­in these constraints.


Hav­ing built my con­fi­dence and an exper­tise as an illus­tra­tor who works in sur­face design, in 2019 I made the deci­sion to begin com­pos­ing an inde­pen­dent port­fo­lio as Karolful.Designs. In my pat­terns I show­case the crafts­man­ship of my draw­ing skills, incor­po­rat­ing hand-drawn ele­ments into most of my designs. These can be both tra­di­tion­al­ly or dig­i­tal­ly drawn, painter­ly and lin­ear in their style. I like to empha­sise the detail and intri­ca­cy of the sub­jects I por­tray. In doing so my pat­terns are often high­ly orna­men­tal, stylised and dec­o­ra­tive in their tone.

My inspi­ra­tion main­ly comes from nature, with my inter­ests cov­er­ing both flo­ra as well as fau­na. Addi­tion­al­ly, my aes­thet­ic is often influ­enced by my endur­ing admi­ra­tion for move­ments such as Art Nou­veau and Arts and Crafts. Build­ing on the tra­di­tions of flo­ral and botan­i­cal themes present with­in dec­o­ra­tive arts my work strives to offer mod­ern inter­pre­ta­tions. 


If you’d like to learn more about my pre­vi­ous work or get to know me bet­ter use the link below to my per­son­al insta­gram account @karolful. There I share bits and pieces of my pre­vi­ous port­fo­lio as well as my oth­er cre­ative pur­suits such as hand writ­ten typog­ra­phy and char­ac­ter designs. Addi­tion­al­ly, I posts about my oth­er inter­ests that include: house plants, out­doors hikes in the York­shire Dales and trav­el­ling. I’m also involved in a local illus­tra­tion com­mu­ni­ty by run­ning a bi-month­ly meet up group called “Leeds Illo”. 

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