Kinga Dragan, CEO of Rzecz Gustu
I CREATE WHAT IN MY SOUL IS PLAYING
Kinga lives and works in the village near Toruń. In 2019, she quit her job in the corporation to be able to devote herself entirely to her passions. She is a happy wife, mother of two adult daughters and owner of a pair of domesticated "find" cats. She took her creative initiative from her family home, and initially left her footprints on the blog blog rzeczgustu.blogspot.com .
Creator of broadly understood folk art. Craftswoman, designer, dressmaker, decoupage crafter, potter and sculptor. Passionate about culinary arts, gardening, nice music, good reading and photography. The originator and manufacturer of original decorative and functional ceramics. Propagator of applied creativity. Blogger and poet. Freelancer and CEO of the Rzecz Gustu brand. From his small studio in an interview with Fourth Son.
FS: Your artisanal path began with felt making, design and sewing. "I had artistic tangles since I was a child - it was sewing first. I am a teenager from the PRL. My mother obtained the Burda magazine with sewing patterns and fabrics that were difficult to access at the time, and I learned how to sew myself, "you recall in one of the conversations. When did the passion evolve into the idea of creating your own brand?
KD: I always liked original things - I knitted and crocheted, I embroidered T-shirts. Such handicrafts were commonplace in my family home. Today, everything is easily accessible and colorful, and I grew up in a time when I was in elementary school wearing a navy blue apron with a white collar, and jeans were bought by foreigners at Pewex. When I became a mother, I sewed and decorated clothes for daughters (the younger one until today is sadly reminding me of the costume of the alien I prepared for her costume party in kindergarten - she wanted to be a princess like other girls). In 2009, I was delighted with the felt works of Beata Jarmołowska. I decided to try to tame the wool tops, because what - I can't? I watched instructional videos posted on the internet, I spread bubble wrap on the kitchen floor, patiently stacked strands of merino tops on it, took soap, water, and after a few hours of laborious "felt-fitness" finally appeared, for example, painting scarves. And to leave a trace for posterity, I decided to archive them on the blog Rzeczygustu.blogspot.com
FS: Ceramic workshops at the Akademia Łucznica Association were a special, strong accent for you in your artistic career. Tell about this adventure but also about the experience thanks to which you expanded the possibilities and offer of the Rzecz Gustu brand.
KD: I started my adventure with ceramics thanks to my daughters - as a gift for Mother's Day, I received an invitation to a one-off ceramic workshop at the Alicja Bogacka gallery in Toruń. Going there, I knew it would not end on one visit. I was looking forward to every Tuesday, after rushing to the office in Bydgoszcz, rush to the Old Town in Toruń and encounter clay there. Once a friend asked if I heard about the Akademia Łucznica Association? I think I was lucky (or maybe it was the power to convince my husband who wanted to give me a wedding anniversary gift?) That I was able to get the first degree of training in the short term: "Ceramics in artistic education and therapy". I completed all three degrees of this course under the guidance of the irreplaceable Justyna Skowyrska - Górska, learning the secrets of ceramic art - starting from the organization of the workshop, through many techniques of hand-forming ceramics and methods of decorating it, various firing methods, including firing clay in live fire (magic !! !), I got acquainted with the independent production of ceramic glazes, I also came across a potter's wheel. Everyone will find something for themselves in Łucznica - the Association promotes various forms of artistic handicrafts: batik, macrame, weaving, wickerwork, stained glass, carpentry, screen printing, ceramics and many others. The courses are conducted by qualified specialists who are happy to share their knowledge and experience. I recommend this place to anyone who wonders where to start and where to get knowledge. There I met many wonderful people with similar tastes, some acquaintances turned into priceless friendships.
FS: Your career path and personal interweave with a multitude of folk and folklore themes. Where does the passion for this end come from?
KD: The passion for folklore and at the same time hatred for white tights came from the fact that as a teenager I danced in the Young Song and Dance Ensemble of Toruń. Workouts, sweat and tears, and then snow-white, starchy petticoats, embroidered shirts, scarves and hearts, heavy skirts, braided braids, wreaths and red beads at harvest festivals, festivals and even foreign trips, have left me this folk imprint.
FS: You are the originator and founder, investor, designer, manufacturer, product manager, brand manager, distributor and face of the Rzecz Gustu brand. You can count on your experience in the art industry in the decades at the turn of which you have released hundreds of products. You are a full-time freelancer performing the duties of several specialized people. However, freelancers are still treated with a grain of salt and stigmatized by absentee stigma. How do you relate to this and do you face professional discrimination with disregard, malice or misunderstanding?
KD: Sometimes I hear "You have it well - you are at home". Yes, I don't have the pressure on a corporation like a corporation, but I also work, but in my own rhythm. What about being at home? It may be even more difficult, because there are so many temptations and distractions at hand, such as a comfortable sofa or garden.
FS: Undoubtedly, you have an affair with ceramics and even intimate relations with clay. You create your projects by hand, without using ready-made forms. The difficult and time-consuming process of making the product teaches you to tame frustration, patience, concentration, precision and humility. It gives satisfaction, but also closes in the studio for long, lonely hours. Creation hours charged for electricity, water and gas. Craftsmen often do not talk about the costs of producing a physical product, but this does not change the fact that they exist and affect the final price of the product. How does this unavoidable, prosaic truth relate to the Thing of Taste?
KD: Handicrafts are appreciated, but unfortunately few. There are those who do not argue with the price, but there are also those who, despite the agreed price, ask for a "discount". The ceramics production process is labor-intensive, full of traps and surprises. Materials and tools are expensive and not available everywhere. The clay may crack during drying and during firing in a professional oven. Not everyone knows that every ceramic product is fired at least twice - first on so-called biscuit at a lower temperature and again after covering with ceramic glazes. It's not baking in the oven at 180 degrees. Ceramic firing lasts 8-10 hours, and the temperature exceeds even 1200 degrees. The furnace and the fragments placed in it must cool down peacefully, which also requires time. Here you can not speed up anything, and it is known that time is money. Many people find it easier to spend the proverbial "barrow" at the hairdresser or manicurist for an hourly service than at a craftsman who spent a lot of time, consuming cheap materials and media, to create a unique work.
FS: How do you assess the market's absorbency and demand? Is handicraft a product desired by the Polish consumer? Do customers still value handmejd over so-called network?
KD: I will say this - some people prefer to copy products from chain stores in hundreds, while others choose individual and unique handicrafts - a matter of taste. Sometimes I am surprised by the recipient - the appearance of a man says nothing about his sensitivity to art. "The work speaks for itself, if it has someone," so to quote Stanisław Jerzy Lec.
FS: The passion for arts and crafts has become a reason to decide to quit work. Paradoxically, however, you overpowered this decision with depression. Say a few words about the complexity of the situation.
KD: Yeah ... Giving up fixed pay after over 20 years of office work was not easy. Dismissals in the corporation are the only sure thing, so I was preparing myself for my emergency exit towards ceramics. "Raised" children, so what do I need to be happy? - only fulfillment. However, questions arose as to how I will manage, will I find myself in a new situation? This fear overcame me, and while still working full-time I was fighting against the 100-gnome gnome who sat on my neck, hammered me in the ground and prevented my breathing ...
FS: Depression is considered one of the 21st century civilization diseases. Globally, around 350 million people suffer from it, of which 1.5 million is said in Poland. There is also talk about the beneficial, therapeutic effect of painting or sculpting on the condition and recovery processes of people affected by the disease. Has creative art contributed to your recovery? What are your personal experiences with this field of autotherapy?
KD: Probably each case requires an individual approach. If you find pleasure in creation, it will help you focus your thoughts on the act of creation and distract you from overwhelming, often perhaps even imaginary or exaggerated problems. Making clay, drawing, knitting, refreshing furniture, pulling out weeds - something that focuses maximum attention and brings a visible effect can be helpful in dealing with depression. I was also helped by funny French movies and light "girlish" readers.
FS: What is the thing about taste currently working on, and can we expect surprises and news in the near future?
KD: I discover a mature woman in me (it's about time ?!). We are perfect with our imperfections, we are fragile and at the same time hard, we carry a smile on the face outside and extreme emotions tear us apart. I think a woman / femininity will take over my studio for some time. I'm just getting started and I will show you what I can do, surprising even myself!
FS: You have almost half a century of gaining experience, wisdom, distance and sense of humor behind you. A few words of advice for artists who are just entering the path of artistic craftsmanship?
KD: I do not belong to those who go to the corpses to their destination. On the other hand, though, Kill Bill comes to my mind and I find Uma Thurman in master Pai Mei - patience pays off. Find your Master, listen to the lesson carefully, then try and experience without being discouraged.
"I can't take my eyes off the juicy colors!"
"I love beautiful, useful and multifunctional things."
"Beautiful! Perfect for a rustic interior!"
"Believe me, you can't even imagine how these wonderful works from photos look in real life - even more beautiful than in the pictures. Without exception."
Source: social media comments about the Rzecz Gustu brand.
To quote Agnieszka Maciąg, "A grateful heart is a magnet that attracts miracles". I am grateful for all the comments that give me confidence in myself, assure me that what I do makes sense and makes others happy.
- Kinga Dragan, CEO Thing of Taste