Dominika Jezewska is a multidisciplinary artist and designer. She graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2016 with a BFA in Fashion Design and has an extensive background in fashion and 3D visualization. Forever immersed and fascinated by the world, she spends her time exploring realities and everything in between in her art practice, imagining and dissecting the relationships between humans, objects, and space. Especially interested in the little things and subtle messages which make up the fabric of the subjective realities we exist in, she explores the possibilities and what-ifs crafting pockets of alternate realities which exist at the intersection of art, design, and technology and appears in different forms ranging from wearable avant-garde fashion art pieces to installations and mixed reality environments.
Outlander: How did you get your start in art and design?
Dominika: I’ve been creating, making things up, and coming up with stories in my head ever since I can remember. I also grew up listening to my dad and my grandma’s stories of faraway places and different cultures. My dad is a flight attendant and when I was little their layover times were sometimes weeks long, so it was always really exciting when he was coming back with new trinkets, exciting stories, and pictures to feed my imagination. Plus I was always drawing or painting or building something, so everyone would always gift me with art supplies. Eventually, I got really interested in fashion, fell in love with New York and it was only natural that I ended up at Parsons, where I continued to develop my skills and curiosity, and continued to experiment with new things like wearable tech, VR/AR, and digital art, which are at the core of what I do now.
O: Is there an artist that you look up to, whether it be someone who motivated you to begin your artistic journey or someone whose work inspires you today?
D: There are actually quite a few! My all-time favorite artists are Andy Warhol and Alexander McQueen, both were exceptional and groundbreaking in their own way, and I can never get enough of their work or reading about their creative process. But speaking of more contemporary artists that inspire me, it’d be Sam Cannon, who’s a digital artist engaging with the surreal and oftentimes exploring the body form (her latest project “Thinking about getting into 3D” is truly something else. Another artist that always inspires me and motivates me constantly is Azzah Sultan, whose art is not only absolutely stunning but also stays with you forever because you can’t ever stop thinking about it and the stories she tells through it. She also happens to be a close friend, so I get a lot of behind-the-scenes glimpses when she works on new stuff which is the coolest thing ever!
O: If you had to describe your work in three words, what would they be and why?
D: Immersive – when viewing my work I want you to get lost in it a bit, to submerge in a different reality even if for a second.
Interdisciplinary – I rarely ever stick to one discipline, somehow always finding ways to blend at least two together in a fun way.
Imaginative – my brain never stops coming up with new things and dreaming up worlds.
O: Your works often toe the line between the real and surreal. Where do you find inspiration?
D: Everywhere around me really, I’m always observing my surroundings, my brain working on new ideas and coming up with new scenarios. Sometimes it happens more naturally than other times (I can definitely tell there’s a dip in my creativity when I don’t give myself enough space to breathe and rest or I’m too hard on myself). But I love stories of all kinds: books, movies, history, music, listening to friends telling me about their day. Each and every one of those is a separate reality, an individual world that you get a glimpse into and there’s nothing more inspiring than that to me because the only reality you truly know is your own.
O: One of the pieces in your portfolio that really stood out to us was “The Anatomy of Perception,” an AR installation which you created in collaboration with Israa Al Balushi during the Exit11 VICE x Postscript Magazine residency. Could you talk a little bit about your inspiration behind the pieces and about your experience in the residency?
D: It was a really amazing experience. Israa and I got along really well literally since our very first text conversation. It was quite surreal at the same time because we’ve only seen each other via zoom, and we’ve created a whole physical (well digital) installation together. The Anatomy of Perception came out of the idea that there’s no such thing as an objective reality, as by default the fact that we can only learn its properties via observation, which is always subjective. The installation explores the fragility of reality via AR. It is an interpretation of the dreamworld in real life, creating a state of dreaming, while still being in your current surroundings. – urging you to be present in the space, even though the installation is not physically there. By creating a subconscious experience in consciousness (in real life), you automatically alternate your view of what true perception is. Additionally, we’ve added a photo component into the project to visualize the experience, and since photography has always been a medium that presented reality as is, it felt incredibly fitting. The series pushes the boundaries of realism, exploring a new understanding of perception, telling a story about an individual and their interpretation of what may truly exist around them.
O: Out of all the amazing work that you’ve done, which would you say is your favorite?
D: Oh gosh, this is so hard to choose, especially with my more recent work each project is so unique and so different from the other ones. They all have a very special place in my heart, but I think for now “The Anatomy of Perception” which I created in collaboration with Israa Al Balushi and working on “It’s a beautiful day, too bad it won’t last and neither will you” with Ella Wasserman-Smith were my favorite to date. I love collaborating with other artists and with these two projects I pushed myself further than I thought was possible and explored completely new concepts, which is always super exciting.
O: What is your favorite part of the artistic process?
D: The part where I stop actively thinking and get lost myself in the process of creating something.
O: How has the pandemic changed your workflow?
D: In a way, it allowed me time to fully focus on my art, while at the same time forcing me to do just that, since I couldn’t really do anything else. I had a really big creative block and was quite burnt out before lockdown and was slowly, slowly getting out of that creative rut but when the pandemic hit and the world as we knew it went up in flames, I made the decision to only focus on what I can control, and be kind to myself, and my creative work was at the very center of that.
O: One of our favorite projects of yours is your digital artwork collection called “A year of dreaming.” Could you talk a little bit about how you came up with this idea and what your creative process is like?
D: It’s a funny story because I was constantly complaining to my friend that I have so many ideas but never get around to actually do anything about them. So I was like ok, I’m gonna do my own personal challenge where every single day for a year I have to create something visual, doesn’t have to be good or be anything specific, just needs to happen, no expectations whatsoever, and I’ll post it to Instagram so there’s some accountability involved and I can’t just back out of it. I have to say I didn’t expect to last even a week, and the first couple of weeks I was constantly getting into my head whether or not I’m doing it “the right way”, but here we are 157 days in, I haven’t missed a single day, and I’m just having fun with it now. The actual process of how each “Dream” comes to very much depend on the day I’m having. Each one is a combination of photos, which I constantly take everywhere, VR drawings (made in TiltBrush or Gravity Sketch) and sometimes I add some iPad drawings to the mix. But there are days when I’m super tired and I remix the dreams I did before to try to find new shapes, colors, and portals to other worlds. And that’s ok too! Like I said, no expectations, no rules, just lots of freeform creative exploration.
O: If you could give new artists some advice from what you’ve learned, what would it be?
D: Be kind to yourself, observe everything, and never stop experimenting!
O: Do you have any upcoming projects that we should look out for?
D: Yes! I still have about 200 days left of my “A year of Dreaming” project which I post every single day to my Instagram (@dominikajezewska). But I’m also working on an installation project called “3 am fantasy,” which combines AI-generated video and poetry. It’s a really exciting one because I usually tend to shy away from any type of writing, but it felt right for this one. There are a few other ones that I’m starting to research but for now, I’ll keep it a secret since they’re very rough ideas, so stay tuned!
Thank you so much to Dominika for taking the time to chat with us!