Andrzej Pągowski in 2011

Excerpts from two separate interviews with Andrzej Pągowski on designing film posters in Poland. The first, from September 2011:

Andrzej Pągowski: Earlier it was possible to make something ‘for the street’ and it would have been noticed. Today, in that gigantic melting pot of colours, one needs to make a decision which has enormous financial consequences…

I believe that young people more and more often appreciate those years of the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, those were years of freedom, which paradoxically enough, does not exist today. I could paint the way I wished to, scribble according to my needs and nobody would remark on that. Today I do the main graphic content, whereas the letters of the text and information about sponsors are inserted by the agency. I fight against it, but on the other hand, I am not the one who finances films.

So the world of advertising plays the role of the censor?

Pągowski: Yes! It intervenes at every move of the graphic designer with the words, ‘This is not going to sell.’ People are not even aware that there exists a powerful group of people who make decisions for the average Kowalski as to what cultural content and in what form it should reach him. I bear a grudge against decision-makers of different groups who manage culture and have begun to serve it in the form of worse and worse mindless mash. And people believe that this is what they are to have. I believe that in 10 or 15 years it will be really difficult to make a name in art. Unless a new generation of truly great and dynamic people begins to understand that apart from having good things to wear and good things to eat, it is worth being in touch with culture.

And the second, from December 2011:

Andrzej Pągowski: Most of the things that i am interested in, which I like and which can be called a hobby result from my way of living and working. If someone is a doctor and is interested in film, then people say that it is his hobby. And I am interested in film because I design film posters…

There is constantly lots to do and I am not capable of stopping at just one task. If someone wants me to do something for him, then that is for me an enormous dose of adrenaline. I hardly ever assign myself subjects to work on. I most often work on things commissioned from me by others. I see my work as equal to that of a baker or a tailor. I am a graphic designer and that is my profession. If someone says that I am an artist, then I accept that, for I feel like an artist, but that is my profession. I used to treat what I was doing as some kind of mission. When I made posters for the films of Wajda and Kieślowski – I created. Now things have changed. Now my work is the final result of multiple factors, confrontations and conversations – starting with the order itself, then successive designs and their transformations. I reach an understanding with the client. But there are, of course, limits to the compromise. They are present within me. I then feel that I cannot put my signature on the work. I cannot allow for the client to hem me in…

I often ask myself the question of what I am doing in this world and why I am here. Those kinds of questions appear when one becomes more mature and has already received something from life. When you can share something or perhaps, pay some debt – contribute your work to a charity auction, design a socially-engaged campaign … I am not a rich enough person to be able to donate large sums of money, but I am rich in talent and ability to work.

— (via Pągowski: Illustrating Films)