Karolína Stryková – you will encounter this name in many different places as the young illustrator and stationery designer from Prague is involved in various projects. There is her own stationery brand called Paragraph, there is Tabletters, a graphic design studio she founded with two of her friends, and Polagraph, a shop & gallery focuses on Polaroid photography. In our interview Karolína shared her inspirations, her love for hand-drawn typography and some of her favorite places in Prague with us.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Karolína Stryková, I live in Prague and I’m a stationery designer and illustrator, focusing mostly on hand lettered typography. I have a stationery brand called Paragraph, where I create paper products, such as notebooks, sketchbooks and currently mostly photo albums. I study graphic design at the university in Pilsen, though now I’m going to start studying typography at the University of Arts and Architecture in Prague.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style could be described as expressive, naive, emotional and positive. When drawing, my line is always characteristic for my work. It’s usually black, sometimes calligraphic, little bit crazy …
What or who inspires you?
That depends – mostly places and things around me. I travel to get inspiration. Sometimes I see something I don’t like and I just want to make it look better. Look nicer. When some words come to my mind or I see something I like, I just go and write it. I try to make things visual. Putting life, talk and situation on paper, into graphics. For example, I really like coffee and food themes, that become inspiration for posters. I also collect motivation quotes, which are another part of my work.
Some older authors of iconic graphic design and typography inspire me a lot too. My professors have also been an inspiration for me, and also my friends. For me it’s very inspiring to have always a lot of creative friends around me, who do great work, travel and live their dreams. I love to cooperate with them. For instance, our new studio Tabletters emerged out of my friendship with Nikola, who had been my schoolmate for many years, and Tereza, who studied arts management and now is in charge of our production. It is important to mention that also my great clients are a big inspiration 🙂
You are working a lot with hand-drawn typography. Why is hand lettering such a huge trend at the moment? And what do you like about it?
I have always combined my drawing with some funny texts and letters. I’d been going through a difficult period a few years ago and I started to write. To break it. And it worked, it has stayed with me until now. When I realized I’m sort of good at it, that maybe I can actually write even better than draw, I started to focus on it more. Naturally, when I saw people liked it, next work opportunities came and I started to use it in all kinds of my design more and more.
I think the trend nowadays exists, because there had been so many great letterings before computers came, and then after some time most designers focused just on computer fonts. Now it is getting more popular again, as it’s always more original and the work is more visible. I enjoy that I don’t have to work always on a computer. I can just take a pen and a piece of paper, sketch something and draw it. I like that the hand lettered type is always more expressive, more memorable.
Which tools do you need for hand lettering?
When I work by hand, I use just a piece of paper or sketchbooks (a lot of them at the same time). I always use a normal pencil, and I like a classical pen. Usually I have a favorite tool for some time – sometimes a copic pen, or a brush, recently I’ve been working for example with a classical calligraphy pen. Sometimes it’s enough for the work itself; otherwise I use a scanner and then I work with the drawings in the computer. I always work on a graphic tablet, using different brushes in Photoshop. After that I usually make vectors of my letterings in Adobe Illustrator.
How does your work place look like?
I work in an old functionalist building in the middle of a great park in Prague’s Vinohrady district. I share my workplace with other creative people. Our studio is all white and bright, with big windows towards the park. I do my best to keep it neat, but still, the papers, scissors, tapes, pencils and other stuff lie all around. I make part of my stationery production in the studio, so sometimes it gets a bit messy 🙂 My friend Nikola from Tabletters shares a desk with me and that way we can also share ideas and excitement while working.
You are running a store in Prague called Polagraph, which products are sold there?
We started Polagraph with my friends Michal and Tomas from PolaroidLove, and Kristina from My dear deer. The shop focuses on Polaroid cameras, old analog cameras, all kinds of films etc., my Paragraph sketchbooks and notebooks and all kinds of photo albums I make too. We are a gallery at the same time, so we host exhibitions, that is mostly Polaroid photos. So if you are a Polaroid enthusiast, or you are attracted to analog photography in any way, or if you would appreciate an original handmade album, come to Polagraph!
Which other places in Prague can you recommend to our readers?
I really like Vinohrady and Zizkov disctrics, where I live and work. There is a great farmers’ market on the Jiřího z Poděbrad square, 4 days a week. There is also my favourite café, a tiny coffee place called mamacoffee. I like to have lunch at Pradelna Café, just behind the corner of my atelier. In the evening I enjoy going to Café Neustadt for a drink. I would also recommend you to have a nice walk to Nový Svět café, near to the Prague Castle. I also like visiting my friends’ shops, such as Luciela Taschen’s Showroom, Jakub’s vinyl store Musictown, Ales’s new Playbag shop or Page Five – a Berlin style looking book shop. And for sure, I recommend you to come to Polagraph 🙂
Hopes and dreams for the future?
It would be great to be able to keep a balance between work and my personal time, which is sometimes very hard, since my work is my life 🙂 I’d love to travel as much as possible. I would like to see my friends and family more often. And with the work, I would like to realize a new leather diary collection with Paragraph this autumn and also a brand new textile home ware collection with our studio Tabletters. I want to make my hand lettering work more and more international and I’m hoping for new opportunities and great clients.