• 1.25.10

    Flowerhead: The Illustrations of Olaf Hajek

    Olaf Hajek's debut monograph Flowerhead is being released in Europe in Feburary, 2010 by Gestalten. The international release follows shortly in March, 2010. The book is full of advertising, editorial, commercial portraits, fashion illustration, and rarely seen personal work from over the past three years of Hajek's long illustration career.

    Born in Germany and raised in Holland, Olaf Hajek draws inspiration from far-away places such as folk art in Africa and South America and the detailed work and interesting perspectives of India and Persia.

    How did you come up with the title of the book?
    Why Flowerhead? I created the name because I create a lot of hats where the flowers grow into the hair, or beards become flowers, so I call them Naturemen and Flowerheads. I like the idea that there is something natural and human coming together.

    What role does nature play in your artwork?
    What I like about the idea of nature is not that I see it in an organic form - nature for me could be very abstract and it gives u an idea about the creation. It's not that I see a tree and it's a tree. The tree could be sad, the tree could be powerful, the tree could be a little bit angry. That's also something that I like about natural elements - birds, flowers, snakes, and insects - all these things together can be frightening, but they can also be very colorful and very nice.

    Who were some of your early influences?
    When I was a child I was always looking at art books and trying to draw and paint. I would get my pocket money together to buy books from artists such as French impressionists. A little bit later I became a big fan of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, their work had a kind of beauty with a morbid atmosphere and that's where I developed my direction.

    What is your current concept of beauty?
    I'm very much aware of what I'm seeing and what is happening around me - I'm touched by a special kind of beauty. I like the idea of beauty with a broken surface and I don't like so much perfection.

    What does this book mean to you?
    When Gestalten came to me to make a book about my work I was happy, but I was completely anxious about how the book would look. Now when I show the book around, it gives a good impression of what I've done so far. I think the quality of the work is consistent, there's no "this work was bad and this work is better," so I think a good way to put it is that the book is like a treasure box for me.

    How did you choose what went into the book?
    I was choosing the work for what it was - I didn't say to myself, "Oh, you have to put this in because it's a big client." If I created something that was nice, then I didn't care whom it was for. I just looked through my scans and sent Gestalten 150 images, and I thought they'd choose maybe just a portion of them - but they actually took all 150.

    Your inspirations come from a variety of places; do you travel often to brush up on the cultures?
    I have been going to Capetown the last 7 years. I never go on vacation in the summer because I love Berlin summer, so I travel to South Africa as a wintertime escape. I have also been to South America, and I really, really have to go to India one day. It's more of the idea of the culture rather than the actual place. I also go to New York a lot for business. The first thing I do when I go to New York is the American Folk Art Museum, that's one of my favorites, especially the Henry Darger room.

    What are your future plans?
    It would be wonderful to do another book. I have something I am currently working on which is music for the future. I'm going to South Africa in 4 weeks and when I return to Berlin there will be a show of my newest work, some work that's not even in the book. Also I hope to have a show and book signing in New York.

    That's great! I hope to see you in New York in the spring. Thank you for your time.

    -Helen Shih


    Olaf Hajek's Portfolio
    Flowerhead preview at Gestalten
    Olaf Hajek interview on Gestalten.tv

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