- born 1976
- born in Bielsko-Biała
- he lives and creates his works in Krakow
- he specializes in comics, book illustrations and graphics for games
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work”.
He studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 2001, he graduated from prof. Roman Banaszewski’s Book Studio. He has published comics and illustrations in many newspapers and magazines, including in “Przekrój”, “Gazeta Wyborcza” and “Nowa Fantastyka”. He has taken part in individual and group exhibitions both in Poland (including in Warsaw, Łódź, Krakow) and abroad (including in Tokyo and Frankfurt).
The most important publications: “Pozdrowienia z Interstrefy. Antologia komiksów Rafała Szłapy” (art), story by K. Konwerski, R. Smektała, J. Szyłak, M. Szłapa, R. Szłapa, Timof i Cisi Wspólnicy, 2006; “Insensivity” (art), story by R. Smektała, in the American anthology titled “Hope”, Ronin Studios, 2006; “Słynni Polscy Olimpijczycy: Janusz Kusociński”, No. 7 (art), story by R. Nawrot, Agora S.A., 2008; “Słynni Polscy Olimpijczycy: Renata Mauer” No. 20 (art), story by R. Nawrot, Agora S.A., 2008; “Jan Paweł II. Pielgrzymka do Polski 1979” (art), story by W. Tkaczyk, Zin Zin Press/”Mały Gość Niedzielny”, 2009; “Bler” series: “Lepsza wersja życia”, “Zapomnij o przeszłości”, “Ostatni wyczyn”, “Pierwsza wersja życia” (the second version of Vol. 1), “Stan Strachu”, “Człowiek ze światła”, “Psie Imperium”, “Nieistnienie”, Blik Studio, 2010‒2018.
The most important awards and distinctions: winner in the Best Comics and Best Picture categories in the competition for a comic depicting episodes of the Warsaw Uprising, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, 2005; recognition in the competition for a short work, International Comics Festival, Łódź, 2010; main award of the “#CreateAsUs” competition, Pyrkon, Poznań, 2017.
Rafał Szłapa creates his works using both traditional methods, i.e. ink, pencil and acrylic paints, and digital tools. His comics involve vivid colours, regardless from whether warm shades of yellow and green dominate or cold greys and blues. His expressive strokes with strong contours have become more and more refined over time; the softness and painterliness of his drawings have increased as a result of the change of the technique.
What is characteristic of Szłapa is experiments with the form, e.g. whole-page panels full of action or, on the other hand, very atmospheric silent panels, multiple close-ups, series of panels depicting various points of view, view from above contrasted with the diagonal perspective, play with planes or onomatopoeias coming out of panels or going through several neighbouring panels, which make the story more dynamic. The original layout of panels also increases dynamics: instead of dividing them into horizontal tiers, Szłapa sometimes chooses a vertical layout, where individual, narrow and long images are moved along the vertical axis, or he decides to use a diagonal layout.
The artist also uses graphic solutions typical for American comics, such as presenting the reaction of a character by putting question marks or exclamation marks in speech balloons.
Szłapa’s illustrations fit into the realistic traditional convention of comics about superheroes; however, his digitally created detailed panels full of light, colours and the three-dimensional effect, which is rarely observed in comics on such a great scale, bring associations with concept art to mind.
Rafał Szłapa Gallery
More information about the artist: behance.net/rafal250e