Hello !

I am Karolful, a freel­ance sur­face design­er and illus­trat­or, based in Leeds UK.

Welcome to my stu­dio !

My name is Karolina Szymkiewicz and in 2012 I set up my freel­ance prac­tice, known as Karolful. I am ori­gin­ally from Poland (Wrocław) and have lived in the UK since 2006. I gradu­ated with a Masters in Illustration from Edinburgh College of Art in September 2011, for which I was awar­ded a dis­tinc­tion. Not long after this I moved to Leeds, where I am cur­rently based.

I am avail­able for com­mis­sions : freel­ance illus­tra­tion, pat­tern design and pub­lish­ing pro­jects. If you have any quer­ies at all about my work, wheth­er you’re inter­ested in work­ing with me, dis­cuss­ing col­lab­or­at­ing on pro­jects or simply want to know more about prac­tice, please do not hes­it­ate to get in touch. My con­tact details can be found on the con­tact page.

I am pas­sion­ate about draw­ing and apply­ing it to vari­ous fields of prac­tice. My past pro­jects encom­pass designs for tex­tiles, appar­el, album cov­ers, wed­ding invites, posters, pack­aging, web­sites, phone app icons and logos. I enjoy the vari­ety of chal­lenges my work brings me and I am con­stantly on the lookout for new out­lets for my draw­ing skill.

I spe­cial­ise in work­ing lin­early in tra­di­tion­al pen­cil, but increas­ingly most of my work sees my draw­ing digit­ally and I enjoy com­bin­ing the two. Throughout my prac­tice I’m par­tic­u­larly drawn to using of illus­tra­tion to explore feel­ings and their expres­sion. This could be through examin­ing the pos­ture and move­ment of the human body and face, reflec­ted in my work with con­tem­por­ary dan­cers, or in cre­at­ing mis­chiev­ous and intriguing char­ac­ter designs.


Due to my fine arts back­ground, I have developed a par­tic­u­lar skill for pro­du­cing real­ist­ic and rep­res­ent­a­tion­al illus­tra­tions. These images are hand-drawn and often com­bine pen­cil with digit­al draw­ing. My usage of col­our is sparse and I prefer to keep a mono­chrome or a lim­ited col­our palette. In my per­son­al work I am par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in fig­ur­at­ive depic­tions of people and anim­als. Inspired by con­tem­por­ary dance I have pro­duced numer­ous exhib­i­tions focus­ing on the human body in motion and it use as an express­ive medi­um. My per­son­al high­light in this area include a res­id­ency in Shanghai, where I worked for 6 weeks on a sold out exhib­i­tion called “MA”. Symbolism is also a prom­in­ent fea­ture in my work, influ­en­cing the ele­ments I select to jux­ta­pose against one anoth­er and the anim­als I choose to por­tray in cer­tain com­pos­i­tions.


As far back as I can recall I have always been draw­ing char­ac­ters, in their mul­ti­tude. This interest has led me to seek out and gain exper­i­ence pro­du­cing concept art. I have helped design char­ac­ters for the gam­ing industry and col­lab­or­ated with writers to illus­trate their short stor­ies they have writ­ten. Working in the kidswear industry for 5 years on cloth­ing for infants has also giv­en me the oppor­tun­ity to work cre­at­ively with pre-exist­ing commercial/​brand char­ac­ters. Personally, I am drawn to char­ac­ters that are highly anim­ated, express­ive and play­ful, which have a strong storytelling ele­ment to them. In order to devel­op my own char­ac­ters I have set up an ins­tagram account @karolful_sketchbook where I share sketches that com­ment on daily life, try new ren­der­ing tech­niques and nour­ish my cre­ativ­ity. Recently I have also star­ted to branch out into pro­du­cing nurs­ery prints and greet­ing cards.


My grow­ing expert­ise and enthu­si­asm for sur­face design has been spurred by work­ing with Noo-Studio for sev­er­al years and build­ing long­stand­ing asso­ci­ations with sev­er­al kidswear com­pan­ies, cre­at­ing sea­son­al col­lec­tions for them annu­ally. Initially this work focussed on pro­du­cing a vari­ety of pat­terns and illus­tra­tions for mul­tiple kidswear fash­ion brands based in China but in recent years this has expan­ded into being com­mis­sions to design con­fec­tion­ary pack­aging, mer­chand­ise and sta­tion­ery. I find pat­tern design to be an excit­ing and highly ver­sat­ile out­let for my pas­sion for draw­ing. I strive to keep as much of my ele­ments hand drawn as pos­sible and par­tic­u­larly enjoy cre­at­ing pat­terns fea­tur­ing ele­ments like flowers, vari­ous botan­ic­als, anim­als and char­ac­ters. I design pat­terns for products in my online shop and also sell pat­terns via the fol­low­ing web­sites : pat­tern­bank and kids pat­tern.


I’ve got a long-stand­ing col­lab­or­a­tion with Noo-Studio. I also run a loc­al illus­tra­tion meet-up group in Leeds (Leeds Illo).