Artist Inspiration: Jacqueline Lesik on creating surreal fantasies

Hi Jacqueline! Tell us about your art and your work.

I’m a Polish-American artist working out of a studio space in Miami. I’m also a full-time creative director and a part-time freelance designer. I’ve been designing band and bar posters for about a decade, and I’ve been working in the advertising world for about fifteen years - but I’ve always been an artist first. I’ve been fascinated by the art world and have been creating, painting and sketching things since I was a child—and studying both fine art and graphic design along the way. I love to hop back and forth between digital illustration, photo collage, painting on canvas or wood panels and traditional design. A lot of what I’ve learned has been through a combination of formal training, online tutorials and, of course, lots of practice.


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Tell us about the inspiration behind your image collages

Most of my image collages are inspired by and created for local bands and events. Music can be interpreted in so many ways, so sometimes you need to create a surreal fantasy to try and capture it. For example I created this collage for a band called The Love Dimension. It’s a visual representation of a black hole that’s opened up in the spacetime continuum where it’s always Valentine’s Day on the other side. You have this really free, open, back-and-forth moment while creating a collage—until it just feels right to you. It often doesn’t end up how you pictured it in your mind, but that’s part of the process when you’re letting go creatively. I find that establishing a color palette first can be fast way to establish the mood and overall feeling of the piece, although there is no right way to begin. Thinking about balance and composition along the way never hurts, either.  

What tools and software do you use to create your work?

Depending on the piece, I create artwork with different tools. For image collages, I use Adobe Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. If I’m working on an illustration, you can find me on my iPad Mini using Procreate. Other times, it’s just nice to go back to basics and sketch on paper using pencil, pen, posca pens—or painting on cotton, linen or wood using acrylic paints of various weights. I enjoy trying different mediums and techniques to see what I like and to expand my craft.

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The mix of photography and illustration is so compelling and surreal. What is it that you like about this medium? How did it find you?  

Illustrating over photography brings a certain energy to the photo. You can literally add whatever you like to “change the conversation.” It’s disruptive and unexpected. I think the first time I used illustrations to augment photography was in an art class in college—it was a hugely experimental time for me as an artist, and it was just one of many techniques I tried at the time.  

You use so many different elements, such as painting directly on wood panels, paper, digital works, etc.—how do you go about choosing how you will take on an idea/inspiration?

If it’s personal work, it comes down to what I’m in the mood for. Do I want to start a painting on a fresh canvas today, or do I want to binge crime documentaries on the couch and illustrate something using Procreate on the iPad? If it’s commissioned, then we discuss what output is best for the artwork. If it’s freelance work for a bar or event flyer, that is almost always done digitally. The process for digital painting is so different than physical painting, and within each approach there are a million ways at it, most of which I am still learning. If I see a technique that inspires me, then I will definitely research it and try it out for myself. 

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How do you approach personal creative work versus branded work?

For me, these approaches couldn’t be more different. Personal work, for me, starts with the urge to make something—a genuine feeling of wanting to create something with my own hands and mind. I enjoy painting and illustrating female subjects, so the I spend a lot of time finding references that speak to me, which is usually an IDGAF attitude and unspoken confidence. I like to switch up the complexity of the piece, so sometimes it’s a “quicker” four-hour illustration, and other times it takes me months to finish because I really want to take my time and focus on every single detail. It teaches me patience and to enjoy the process because once it’s done, it’s done.

There are more rules around branded work, more restrictions and parameters. Sure, the work can be enjoyable, but more than likely you are interpreting someone else’s vision versus your own. It’s just its nature. It’s a different beast than personal work. But it is satisfying when you nail it and make someone’s day.

Which other artists do you think are doing great work in this space? 

There are so may amazing artists out there. The collage artists I’m into right now are Wangechi Mutu, Douglas Hale, Tony Tuason, Marcos Coelho, Natalia Lewandowska, Jorge Chamorro, Niko Vartiainen, and Suzanne Wright, just to name a few. Community is everything. I think we are living in a unique time where everyone is sharing ideas and being supportive of one another, which is crucial for an artist. We inspire, teach and feed off one another. 

How can we find more of your work? Do you have Instagram or a portfolio website?

You can find me on Instagram @evoked007, on @evoked007—or you can visit my website, which includes a mix of my artwork and agency work, at