Jakub Rozalski is a Polish artist best known for his World of 1920+ series, an alternate 20th century European history that combines war and the industrial revolution with mech robots and folklore. His worked served as the basis for the popular board game Scythe , the Iron Harvest video game Kickstarter and several unreleased projects to come. Most recently, a collection of his artwork is pieced together in Howling at the Moon, ArtStation Media’s latest art book.
Inspired by his surroundings on the Polish countryside, his work captures the nostalgic atmosphere in rural landscapes while incorperating colossal giants, ominous machines, werewolves and lonely wanderers.
For the first time, Rozalski gave us an exclusive sneak peek into his world and shared some of the stories and sceneries that inspire his work.
“From an early age, I always loved mountains. I was born and grew up by the sea, which is at the other end of Poland. A trip to the mountains, whether in winter or summer, was a great adventure for me. They reminded me of the world from some fantastic novels. I loved mountain landscapes and huge spaces where a man feels so small and irrelevant – wild nature, sheep in the hall, haystacks and small villages where time seems to stop. Every image seemed to implant itself on my imagination since I was young.”
“I have always dreamed of living permanently in a mountain cottage, high, close to wild nature and far from civilization. In 2015, I managed to make this dream come true! Apart from history, books and cinema, it’s wild nature that inspires me and stimulates my imagination the most. Before, I always had to go hundreds of miles to find myself in such a place but today I just have to leave the house or look out the window! For me as an artist, this is a real fulfillment of my childhood dreams and it’s an amazing feeling.”
“I love wild animals. To be honest, knowing that in the winter, a few hundred meters from the front door of my house, you can meet a wolf pack, bobcats or a herd of deer, stimulates my imagination. Polish mountains are beautiful at any time of the year, but I love autumn and winter the most. When everything is covered with fog, grey and brown dominate and you can feel this magical aura… ideas, stories and pictures are created in your head! In the summer, I am always less active artistically. I don’t like greenery and sunshine, everything is too literal, bright and burned.”
“Collecting reference materials or looking for inspiration is very important to me and I really like this part of my work process. I love walking on mountain trails and forests while taking pictures of different interesting places or situations. The same applies to rural areas and small villages lying somewhere on the sidelines. It helps a lot when you do it in between painting. Often it happens to me that just when taking a picture, there is an idea for a painting or the whole story.”
“Today when cameras on phones are so advanced, taking pictures has become very easy and intuitive. I always have a phone with me ready to save any interesting place, light, colors, mood or situation. In my library, I have thousands of photos taken during such trips. I often look at them when I lack inspiration or the right mood.”
“My mountain cat is also a great inspiration for me. He is an extraordinary pet. Although he lives and sleeps with us at home and is very attached to us, he spends his days alone in the forest, hunting and patrolling his “territory” like a real wild hunter.”
“It is his suspension between these two dawns, human civilization and wild nature that is fascinating for me! I often try to imagine what adventures meet him during his forest journey, how he sees the world and what surrounds us. It’s an indescribable feeling when in the evening, we call our cat back home and see him running out of the wild forest. He runs to us home and jumps on the balcony, it’s something unusual. I owe a lot of ideas for images or entire stories to this amazing animal.”
“Of course, my wife and I love traveling and discovering different interesting places and cultures, but it is our dream home in the mountains, our pets and the place where we live that is the biggest inspiration for me now.”