Mădălina AndronicFrom: Constanța Born on: 24 November Occupation: Illustrator and maker of ceramic tableware and accessories
I head to the restaurant door and I notice her: she stands with her back towards me and her face towards the bar, at a small table of two. She writes something in an agenda, while the big curly hair covers her face. I get close, my voice disturbs her movements and she is raising her eyes. She is serene and the recently cut bangs gives her a French air, as if a Parisian girl stretches out her hand and greets me. She is wearing a black and brown dress, on which two ceramic cats stand. Their golden mustaches are straight.
Mădălina Andronic has spoiled our eyes for years with the beautiful one she firstly puts on the paper through her illustrations, and then on the textile, ceramics and walls. She gives joy to her clients, whether in advertising, editorial, book or product domain, with stories well supported by content and technique. She paints colorfully, with the care of detail, guided by the high standards and self-criticism with which perfectionism comes.
She doesn’t get rid of it even in karaoke evenings, when fearing of ridicule, she refuses to give voice of her favorite songs, climbing on stage. “I need courage, because I cannot do one thing if it is not perfect, as if I don’t take opera notes, all is screwed”, she says with a sense of self-irony.
“I pack my workshop in Bucharest, so the opportunity to see us there doesn’t exist anymore.”, she writes in the last messages. Reasons to leave Bucharest and the country, we can find all of us, but I wanted to discover hers and driven by the natural curiosity of understanding, without judging, I ask:
MS: Why did you leave Bucharest, the country …?
I ran away. Somehow, life’s events drew me to Puglia, which I visited for the first time in 2018 with my husband Dan, whom we fell in love with without realizing. We said it will be a pleasure to live there, but it firstly was just some words. Or at least that’s what we thought. The region is less demanding than other known Italians regions, and life has a slower pace, it is quiet, still seated. We also found the Masseria Potenti resort, a dream place where you can go on holiday, enjoy local food, walk on foot or bike, discover Mediterranean plants, tasting wine, cheese and olive oil, and why not, to marry. As one of my clients did. I worked on her invitations and I was surprised when she also invited me to participate to the event and to illustrate live moments. The day coincided with our first marriage anniversary and this was one more reason to say “yes”.
In the meantime, we checked the rents there, and our eyes fell on a seaside villa. We left last September. For me, a woman loyal to plans, this move initially was not definitive, and I repeated in my mind “let’s see how things will be…”, although the area clearly inspired me, because after the first visit I have illustrated a lot, thinking of Puglia. Now, once installed, we do not see any reason to return. I prefer to work in a place that stimulates my artistic side and when I open the window to see a pink palazzo (palace) with palm trees in front, and not the Auchan parking lot. My life is taking place at a short distance from Ostuni town, and it’s a quiet one, exactly how I want it now. I understood that I can go forever in the same places, without feeling boring, if it is close to my soul.
I left because I mostly run from one place to another in Bucharest and I did not use my time to do what I love. I was agitated because the intense vibration of the city mixed with my way of being – completely involved in everything I did, resulted in an inefficient program lately. You know, when I was younger, I was impatient to leave Constanța and to come to Bucharest. Curious, my father always asked me: “What do you like so much in that town, I don’t know ?!” “There’s life”, I told him. Today I understand his words. And yes, I sacrificed the comfort of a place I know, for an orange tree decorated for Christmas, shops in which I expose my work and for whatever this new home will prepare us. Who knows? Maybe in two years we’ll want to move again. All I want is to be in a warm climate and to have my husband close.
MS: What do you need in order to live well?
Beauty around me – as you’ve realized, it really matters the place I’m in. Then, to do what I like and to live from it. And last but not least, for me, the connection I have with my partner is another source of inspiration and force, that urges me to be better, both myself and the work I do. By the nature of the “job”, I cannot draw a border between personal and professional, there are not two different and separated sides, but two areas that always intertwine. Therefore, it is important to have someone who supports me and to know that I do not swim alone against the current. The thought that I have by my side a man who wants to make me happy and to work the things that makes me happy, is wonderful.
So, yes, the place where I live and the person next to me, with which I talk, debate, question things, who gets involved, are primordial. Obviously, the family also has her role, the fact that parents encourage me and are happy for me matters a lot, especially for two engineers who have had to reconcile with the idea that their daughter has never had a job. (she laugh)
Prossimamente – book cover mock-up for a personal fiction book, on display in “Coming Soon” exhibition, at Cărturești&Friends, Bucharest
MS: You talk passionately about your work. Are you afraid of losing the joy of creating because it’s your “job” too?
There are many artists who said they have lost their inspiration, they have no idea to put on paper, but for the moment I am not one of them. My mind always grunts something and I can barely stop it. I will not lose the joy, but there were moments, especially at the beginning, when all kinds of uncomfortable situations for a human with principles, hit me. Then, if you want to slowly build a business from what you do, there are compromises and administrative activities that eats a lot of time. But on the way you learn to navigate through the obstacles, to be able to land on your feet after a plan fails. Not from arrogance, but from experience and intuition, I have the certainty that I can find a solution to all the difficult times which possibly happen. I cook quite well, I open a restaurant in case of need, so it’s okay. (she gives the first example that goes through her mind). I adapt quickly enough and this confidence is probably coming out of childhood.
MS: I’ve noticed that you mention frequently education and early parent’s education. Why do you say now that trust in your forces comes from childhood?
In a way, all started for me there. I went to all the existent courses and activities, I did dance, theatre, puppet theatre, singing, swimming, French lessons, and I made them with pleasure, without forcing myself. And each one has formed me, helped me build a discipline. A freelancer needs a little more discipline than an employee, because you have to find the determination to put things in motion. I do not say that this is the only good way. No. It’s also okay to have someone to build you a playground, some limits, or give some tasks. It seems important to realize on what kind of style you fit in, otherwise you may be struggling. I have learned over time to organize myself, to make decisions, and to respect the days when I do not have the physical or mental state needed to work. I tried to ignore how I felt and to put pressure, but nothing good really went out. Imagine, it was a great effort to give up on my way of being, on the messages that I sent at 4 o’clock in the morning if the phone rings. I stopped gradually from this crazy rhythm and now I manage to close my laptop, even if sometimes my brain buzzes and wonders: How about if I did this? If I combine the two approaches? If? How? Why not? (She asks herself gesticulating and widening her eyes. The curly hair moves like a bow at every movement, and her spontaneity manifests.)
Then the thread of peace broken. So yes, it’s a continual fight with me for my good.
MS: TV screenwriter and producer, Shonda Rhimes, spoke in a TED Talk about The HUM that work gives her. It happens also to you; to enter in a special mood when you work?
When I start to work I enter into a special state, I hear you talking to me, but I would prefer not to be bother, because you may not get the answer you are hoping for. I do not think it’s The Hum, but it’s something … You start with an idea in mind, add along the way and you change, make decisions, and finally results a totally different outcome than the one you were designing. In the illustration I chose to keep the traditional style of painting – on the paper with the brush. Then I scan and prepare the files according to their final destination. And if you ask me why I made this decision, and why I do not touch the software tools, I will answer: because I do not have the same satisfaction as when my paint tube flows on the table, like when I mix the colors and see what’s coming out, then when I struggle to combine pink and green, because I like to feel things, and the digital illustration does not give me these interactions. It is not a play, although it seems like this when I am telling you all these things, but on the contrary, I am aware of what I want to achieve and I have well-structured in my mind the principle of working with a certain finality, either it will be a print on textile or a print on paper, either a painting on the customer’s wall. This means that I do everything I need to get the product in a certain way, because I lead to it through all the possible channels: branding, communication, style, the material used in the end, the form it will have and many others steps. It’s ok to be beautiful, but it’s not enough.
I Pepperoncini – illustration inspired by Chiara&Maria Grazia, the power-couple of Masseria Potenti (Puglia, Italy)
MS: Much of your work, I would even say your own style has something of Romanian tradition. What does tradition mean to you?
All the inspiration from folklore started when, going to the master in London I had to differentiate myself from all the other participants. So, I decided to talk about where I come from through our traditions, creating Zâna Zorilor project. Later, this leaning toward folklore changed because I turned to content rather than form, to the less known stories and legends that we discovered by talking to people in isolated villages. I wanted to get this information and give it away after I put my contemporary mark. There are so many beautiful things in our past that define us and which we risk losing. So, I kept some graphic accents that remind of folklore, but actually I’m interested in making the people curious through the story I’m saying. I want to put the Romanian things, which are ours, and that we have forgotten, in a contemporary language, so that I can have a dialogue with the human nowadays. For example, for #FolkTaleWeek, a challenge launched in December by several artists on Instagram, I chose to illustrate The Fir Tree Church, a long tradition of shepherds, who when they were in the mountains at the sheepfold they planted a few fir trees as an altar or they cut down in the same form a glade in the woods, and there they merry by night with the girls of whose parents were against. The wedding was done by a priest in the neighboring village who believed in their love, or even by an older shepherd. I find it so special and emotional … It is part of us and talks about the Romanians of the past, because you cannot find such a habit elsewhere. Tradition is fascinating for me and she remains one of my favorite themes used in illustrations.
Regarding the style – it exists, but it always changes. Most of the time, you work on different projects, adapt to requirements, and you always have certain elements that you put on paper and that shape your style over time. I think you can evolve in two different ways: once with the tools you use – you can find certain brushes, certain colors and textures, materials, ways to combine, and then, at the theme and concept level, through travel memories, personal experiences – the beach on were only the two of us – me and my husband were, a fabulous food, an emotion. I imagine I put this on paper. You feel different every day: about yourself, about places, about any relationship, and gradually it adds to your experiences. That’s how it grows.
The Fir Church, illustration based on the word “forest” – part of the challenge #Folktaleweek
MS: Did you propose something for the year that just started?
Although the plan is sacred to me, I try another approach, more relaxed, where I give up expectations and targets that I pursue as crazy. At the age of 30 I took a step back and I just want to live well. I tried to change the world and it didn’t come out, maybe I have to learn more, to discover other lighter ways to do it. I have given up on competitiveness and agitation. I do my work and I try to do it as well as possible. Even if the offers stops, I can still make personal projects that added to my portfolio increases his value.
I learned from my husband that I DO NOT HAVE to do anything, that nothing is normal or abnormal. I remember asking one weekend what program do we have and he simply said to me: “None”. Panicked and surprised, I asked: “How?! Are we staying like this – without a program?” And I made my eyes big because I was simply disconnected. I was sitting and ideas flooded me. Hardly I managed to send them away, in order to call them back when the time for work came. Now, this attitude it’s just what I need. I think things can be done and in unplugged mode. I realized I am the most important person in my life and it took me a while to learn to listen myself. I want to grow organic and also live after 6 o’clock – when the role of “manager” ends, I want to be a good and happy human being. Slowly, admiring the sun from the balcony of my Italian villa. (she laugh)