Exclusive interview with a graphic designer Woody Troják!
Rock'n' roll singer, guitarist, ilustrator and graphic designer – you could describe Vojtěch „Woody“ Troják as an amalgam of all these occupations, as he is a true renaissance man. His name is well known in the Czech underground and mainstream both. Woody collaborates with our brand since the very beginning, and moreover, he is the man responsible for our sweet logo and many occult designs you can find in our store.
In this unique interview conducted for our web SickFace you can find out what Woody is doing right now, where does he find his muse and what is his advice for beginners in his career field.
- Our first question is a must ask for any artist in these trying times: What are you doing right now? Can you focus on your art only? Is there other line of work you are doing now?
Just now, I am looking at my To Do list with thirteen projects, big and small, which I will focus on in the upcoming three months. In this moment I am in the middle of project for a small store in Oklahoma, it is a cowboy thing and therefore it rocks.
I am also working for new things for Mighty Sounds and finishing two projects – one is a merch design and the other is a cover piece for the Konfont Band. Also, I am tuning my wedding invitation.
I have to admit that I was kinda worried that current events would affect me bad, but things stayed the same, more or less, and I am able to occupy myself with many-a fun things I enjoy. I still do my part time job with an ad agency, but I keep to my guns still.
- You are collaborating with the SickFace brand since the very beginning, what is your favorite design you made for us?
My faves are the Sick Café a the Voodoo Wizard.
- Our brand aside, you collab with a great number of people, be it cover art and design for bands, book illustrations, designs for other brands… Are you able to work on your own projects too?
It is not like I uphold some standards of average work hours, but as my graphic/illustration workload gets pretty large, I have to respect my limits to keep my sanity. My capacities are filled with commissions for a while and sadly, there is no space for my personal projects – and any experiments are out of question too.
Once in a blue moon I am able to do some piece for friends of family, and this is the only time I can spread my wings a little and try something different. Even though it would be great to have more time for my personal work, I still love my job. I consider it a great privilege to be able to make a living with my art and to always have something I can do, and this is all that matters.
There is also the fact that I love music as well, so I have to make time for band, writing new materials and such.
- One of yours achievements is definitely your longstanding collaboration with the Mighty Sounds festival. What was it like to take over after Marcel “Panzer” Musil?
Yeah, this is my seventh year with Mighty Sounds. When I took over after Marco’s work, I was 23, and even though I’ve already done several merch designs, posters and so on, but looking back, it wasn’t a good portfolio at all. I must have been out of my mind when I offered my Mighty friends help with finishing graphic design for the tenth year. Most of all though it was a desire to see Marcel’s work from inside and honestly it was a great honor for me.
Marcel gave me a lot of his time; we went through my works together and in all aspects, he was my ultimate role model. Ever since my first designs for the iconic Final company I was all over anything he would draw. When he was gone, I felt like I owed him. I realized that this is the time to man up and if I were to be serious with this field of work, I cannot be afraid to do that. Honestly, I was surprised to see how quickly people Panzer worked with for years switched to me.
It was a challenge and passion for work combined. I want to give my utmost thanks to the Mighty crew, because I’d hardly be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for them. Raising the horns to you guys!
- What about your family, were they supportive of your art? How were your artist beginnings like?
Well, you know, when you are in elementary or high school and bring home F’s all the time, nobody is really concerned whether you’ll end up as a builder, banker or illustrator. Your notebooks can be scribbled all over but that doesn’t help much when you barely scrape through school. Even though my parents were bothered by that, they let me express myself through art freely.
This eventually switched to full support and then I somehow broke through. When they realized that this is my chosen way of life and I am dead set on it, they even became proud of me a bit.Same script happened with music, but my background there was much more solid.
- Your style is pretty unique, how would you define it? Do you have any artist inspirations?
Well, I don’t like to describe it, because I really don’t know where to begin. I’d suspect you can recognize my art since my works are full of color, lately I stylize more and more into comic and cartoon look. There is always some dark fragment too – skulls, sex, monsters, fast cars, fire, simply rock’n’roll – but I’d hate to generalize like that, so I’d want everyone to make their own impression.
I have loads of favorite artists of course, illustrators and people I like to follow on social media and their work motivates mine. This is no exact influence though, just compositions or color palette for instance.
I used to let my favorite artists inspire me too much, which often led to me trying to capture their style to produce an art which could be compared to work of the other artist. This isn’t it at all though, so I am glad I improved to the level where I don’t have to chase inspiration in books or on the web… Or in some banger by Ken Taylor. In the end, you’ll find out that the best inspirations lies in your head in between your weird brainwaves. This is the way to go. As Strejček said in one of his interviews: “You have to visualize.”
- You are already a hardcore veteran in the graphic design field, is there anything you would recommend to beginners?
Hardcore veteran? Heh, not me at all, I am only 30 yet. I have already achieved some things, but to be called veteran? I’d wait a decade or two for that. Same with advice. If I had to say something about how to grow as an artist according to me? You need to have that inner fire, passion, you can call it whatever you want, but you have to feel it for what you work towards.
If you can’t sleep because ideas rattle in your head, just go, sit at your table and work. This can’t be done for Instagram followers or facebook likes. Not even purely for the money.
Your only true reward is self-realization and knowledge that you gave it all you got. Who cares if you don’t excel in anatomy, don’t know how to work with light or didn’t attend art school? You can more or less overcome all of that with consistent work (read fun).
I believe that if you live for your field and perceive it as a higher principle, you will always find your audience.
Interview: Vojtěch „Woody“ Troják x Zoe / Photos: Jakub Šimůnek 2021