Messi celebrating his World Cup victory with his arms outstretched, a thrilling Eight rowing race, countless cyclists dynamically pushing through on their way along a winding road, athletes conquering huge weights and themselves, swimmers in red caps jumping into the water, and illustrations right on a bicycle frame. All these situations are united by one name: Tomski & Polanski - a talented illustrator duo whose passion for sport and exercise is often reflected in their work. Through their vivid images, we may experience the fascinating world of dynamics, speed and enthusiasm together.
Get an illustration from Tomski&Polanski. The limited edition Road Classics print can be found UNDER THIS LINK.
Ilona Polanská and Lukáš Tomek, who work together under the name Tomski & Polanski, are celebrating their collaboration’s tenth anniversary this year. You may know them from newspapers, magazines, and book and record covers. Their work draws attention at first glance thanks to its distinct style, colourfulness, optimism, visual jokes and small details that lend playfulness and originality to their illustrations. They like to laugh when making work and love when their art entertains others as well. “Our illustrations always contain some sort of an Easter Egg. Hopefully, none of our works lacks spirit and isn’t just kitsch. We try to hide something in all of them. People like it when things go beyond. We don’t make some sort of hyperrealistic paintings. Our fans enjoy those small details.”, says Lukáš Tomek aka Luke Tomski about their work and adds: „Contemporary illustration is like that. That’s why I like the upcoming generation of illustrators. We always enjoyed it with foreign authors and felt it was natural to play and to get some kind of meaning in there. So I hope that we contributed a little bit to the illustration culture because these days it’s quite a common thing.”
Their work is very diverse. You will find their illustrations in books (such as Ladislav Zibura’s travelogues), drink advertisements, portraits of Masaryk and Havel, nature imagery, art for various magazines, CD covers, ceramics… One thing that can’t be missed is their fascination with exercise and frequent sports topics.
From our generation of illustrators, me and Ilona were the first to draw sports imagery. We both are very close to sports, especially cycling.
„Cycling is actually where it all started - specifically, with different kinds of cycling posters. We didn’t even think that somebody would like it. They were made just for fun. You are watching Tour de France and suddenly you feel the desire to draw something like that - to travel the route as an illustrator,” says one member of the art duo.
Last year, they created the poster for the Primátorky rowing race, this year it was the main poster for the startup cycling project Road Classics. They have a series of playful swimmers, circus acrobats, as well as football matches and ski jumpers under their belt. Out of all sports motifs, however, cyclists are the most common. They created posters for the famous cycling race Paris–Roubaix and collaborated with the progressive Festka brand where they illustrated a bicycle frame: “When Festka started, we drew on one of their bikes. It was a success, we gained a lot of followers since they took the bicycle to a cycling convention in the US. We knew then that we don’t have to be scared of working with sports and now we are famous for it and get a lot of orders from people from the sports world. Working for Paris-Roubaix made us very happy because we got to create a cross-section view of this classic event’s history.”
Lukáš is also drawn to cycling in his personal life. He got his first bike when he was four and since then he practically hasn't dismounted. “I loved riding around in the Highlands where there are gently sloping hills. Until I graduated from high school, I used to spend my free time with my friends on my bike. Once I moved to Zlín, I didn't ride as often. But a few years ago I got a gravel bike and I'm riding again properly." Now he likes to ride in the Křivoklát region, around the Berounka River or in the flatlands of South Moravia,
The illustrator duo likes to say that they are actually soloists who like to create together. They met at the Secret Walls competition, where they measured their creative strengths as adversaries. They hit it off and soon the studio was formed. It wasn't long before they had their first commissions. “Our first orders came from abroad, that was crazy. The Czechs thought we were foreign illustrators working in Prague. Everything worked out right away. Ilona and I managed to get along very well. ", Lukáš recalls with a smile. They created their specific visual language and now they belong to the top Czech and foreign illustrators.
We knew right away that we share a goal - to illustrate. We felt that we were both creatives-loners and that we like to make work on our own terms. So we decided to start a small studio. When we later met each other, we had a clear idea, to start our website and make a portfolio to find work and try to collaborate. Our first orders came from abroad, that was crazy. (smile)The Czechs thought we were foreign illustrators working in Prague. Everything worked out right away. Ilona and I managed to get along very well.