“I work on a ground floor studio which I share with my illustrator friend Martin Haake. I sit in front of a big window and sometimes it feels like being in an aquarium. The street is located in the east of Berlin in Berlin Mitte. It’s a beautiful street with a lot of creative spaces, galleries and cafés around.”
Olaf Hajek was born in Rendsburg, Germany. He received his degree in graphic design at Fachhochschule in Düsseldorf in 1993. His list of clients include the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Apple, Macy’s, Volkswagen, Playboy, Architectural Digest, Taschen, Flaunt, Qvest and more. Olaf Hajek’s first monograph, Flowerhead presents an extensive collection of his commercial work and personal art that he created exclusively for the book. He lives and works in Berlin.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
OLAF HAJEK: I’m an illustrator and painter living in Berlin but work for international clients worldwide. I only paint and don’t work in digital. I need to work with the paint and the surface, otherwise I would not get any obsession for my work. I love the fact that work and leisure somehow belongs together and that all I do somehow gives me inspiration.
FYD: What is your favorite sentimental object at your workspace and why?
OH: I’m in love with my book shelf. It’s my wonderbox and my inspiration source. It’s full of my favorite books and cards and magazine and little objects.
FYD: What is your favorite work tool?
OH: I’m a painter and my tools are the brushes and the scraper.
FYD: How did you become interested in folklore, mysticism and native art?
OH: I can’t say…it was always there, even when I was young I was always interested in the “imperfection of beauty.” I try to decompose the borders between authenticity and thought, South American folklore, mythology, religion, history, and geography. More than anything else my work explores the opposition between imagination and reality in the context of western cultures.
FYD: What childhood stories did you grow up on?
OH: I didn’t get so many children’s books, but remember that I got a book of Impressionism around the age of ten, which I loved and wanted to start painting.
I love the fact that work and leisure somehow belongs together and that all I do somehow gives me inspiration.
FYD: How did your wallpaper project for the 25hours Hotel come about?
OH: It’s one of many interesting assignments. They asked me to create some decorative circus scenes, which will be printed as wallpapers for the single rooms of the hotel in Vienna. One amazing thing about being an illustrator is the diversity of the work I get and the projects I’m working on. I love the fact I do paintings for wallpapers or fashion items, as well as working on a book cover or packaging or magazines like Rolling Stone or the New York Times!
When I was young I was always interested in the “imperfection of beauty”.
FYD: I’m always creatively refreshed after taking a sojourn. How important is travel in your work?
OH: Travel is important! I love to get out of the routine and refresh my senses. To see new things is amazing and helps a lot. Searching for inspiration and passion. I loved the fact that I did a solo show in Cape Town this year with an African theme.
FYD: What animal do you identify with the most?
OH: I guess I’m a cheetah! I need to work somehow alone and I’m very good on short range! And on the other hand very impatient!