Olaf Hajek, Flowerhead

What does it say about the state of art today when we’re almost shocked when an artist says that their process does not involve digital media? Olaf Hajek, who’s more comfortable working in a hands-on “analog style,” is one such artist. Or is he an illustrator? Certainly he belongs to the school of artists who walk the line between client-driven work that is so true to his natural style that it’s difficult to label him as a commercial artist. Illustrative fine art? Honestly, who cares.

His work is part art historical, part folkloric. It references traditional botanical and anatomical plates, but he also invents his own organisms. Even when printed in magazines, his pieces maintain a well-worn, textural quality. His use of pattern (from Pucci-esque prints to navajo weavings) and color, the juxtaposition of formal, geometric elements and figures wearing, for example, animal masks lift his work out of the broad illustration camp to the larger art world.

His prints have recently been made available through Gestalten, which also carries his book “Flowerhead.”