Andrzej Kuziola is a full-time, self-taught artist who joined 99designs to explore new creative challenges and experiences. We first discovered him when he was nominated—and then won—our first 99awards competition this year with his stunning illustration for a fantasy novel.

Born in Poland and now residing in the United Kingdom, Kuziola began his career as a dentist before switching his focus to creating art. His style is distinct and surreal, with a stylized texture often resembling sculpted clay. His illustrations are filled with eerie elements like skeletons, twisting vines, medieval armor and fanciful characters.

While he also crafts cheerier illustrations for children and advertising, Kuziola’s sweet spot is in the dark arts. Read on below for our interview and see some of his impressive work.

Andrzej Kuziola

Name: Andrzej Kuziola
99designs handle: kuziola
Location: United Kingdom
Specialty: Illustration

Can you tell us a little about your background and where you’re from?

I am a self-taught artist. I am a qualified dentist, but changed my career to creating art. I was born in Poland, but I am living in the United Kingdom now.

How would you describe your work in one sentence?

My personal illustrations are mirrors of my subconsciousness.

defeat by kuziola
Defeat

Your illustrations are incredibly imaginative. What are your biggest influences?

Music is my most important inspiration. Sometimes it is just a short phrase from lyrics that triggers the creation process. I start to develop the ideas based on my own interpretation of the fragment. I always listen to music when I create.

I love to trek through the wilderness of Scotland because nature is another inspiration for me. Beautiful colors and breathtaking landscapes influence my art.

I look for ideas in faces of people I pass on a street, in shapes hidden on stained old walls, or in colors of corroded metal. I just see world around me in a different way when I close my eyes.

What’s your favorite music to listen to while you work?

I like to listen to classical music; or various genres of metal when the deadline is very close. But I think the best background music is dark ambient. I like to start listening to a random song from an over 700 hour playlist of this genre on Spotify.

Illustrations by kuziola
Having a Meal: A Conversation with God, Fall

Many of your illustrations seem to tell a story. How do you decide on a concept?

It is very spontaneous. The ideas just come to my head and I start to visualize them. I don’t do any sketches.

Do you have a favorite illustration or project you’ve worked on? 

I think it is “Having A Meal: A Conversation with God”. It is a very personal illustration, but I also embodied hidden universal symbols. I like when viewers interpret my art in different individual ways so I prefer to not say more about it.

You often use similar elements in your illustrations — skeletons, vines, etc. What significance do they have for you and your work?

I use them just for the sake of design, composition.

illustration by kuziola
When Dusk Weaves the Night

What tools do you use to create your illustrations?

ZBrush, Cinema 4D and Photoshop.

What do you consider your greatest success so far?

It is difficult to answer this question. I am very proud that I was invited to be a guest lecturer at a university in Edinburgh. I also feel very rewarded that four of my illustrations were published in “Expose. Finest Digital Art” books.

Why did you decide to join 99designs? 

I work as a full time artist. I joined 99designs for new challenges and experiences.

kuziola illustration
Luminous Pearl Princess, Fantasy novel illustration

What’s your favorite horror movie?

“The Omen” from 1976. I love how much the storyline and vestigial FX leave for your imagination. The music is great too.

Anything else to add?

Having the ability to create something that exists only in your mind is unbelievable.

I find it interesting when there is more than one way of seeing things and when illustrations are more complex, which allows most of my illustrations to be open to interpretation.

See more of Kuziola’s haunting work here.