She comes from the southern Polish city of Częstochowa, where she went to a visual arts high school and took a course with a special focus on jewellery. She arrived in Łódź with her sights set on the Film School, but ended up studying industrial design and interior architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts and then joined MakoLab in May 2021 as a Junior Social Media Specialist. Once she gets started on her interests, she can talk for hours. In fact, if Insights was going to present everything she told us, we’d be looking at publishing an entire book! And it wouldn’t be an insubstantial little volume, either 😊
Meet Patrycja Zalejska and (some of) her favourite things!
Right now, you’re in the middle of a period of change as far as MakoLab projects are concerned, aren’t you?
Yes. To begin with, I was involved in our client’s social media accounts and, to be precise, with moderating the content published on them. But I have to confess that writing isn’t my forte. Luckily, that’s not an obstacle at MakoLab. Now I’m getting back to my roots… in other words, graphic art. At the moment, I’m designing graphics for social media and improving my skills in terms of UX and UI.
You’ve got your own foundation, isn’t that right?
It is. Actually, to be precise, it’s me and my fiancé. We’ve been running it for four years. The focus of the foundation’s work is the needs of blind and visually impaired children. We create tactile books, provide a braille printing service and hold workshops for children and seniors… ‘My First Tactile Page’, workshops, sensory game workshops and workshops based around using 3D pens.
Not only fascinating, but also unheard of! Where did the idea come from?
While I was at visual arts high school, I took part in some workshops that were intended to encourage us to enter a competition for creating a tactile book. That was the first time in my life I’d come into contact anyone who was blind. I explored the basic principles for creating that kind of book, what mistakes to avoid, what to bear in mind and so on. What upset me was the quality of the books we were looking at. You could see they weren’t what you’d call hard-wearing. I could imagine them being passed from hand to hand and what would happen to them before too long. And that’s when I thought, “I’ve got to create a tactile book that’ll last for years”.
So, you entered the competition?
I created a tactile Cinderella. I even got my Polish teacher involved in helping me prepare the content. Everywhere I looked, I saw materials I could use to make the illustrations. I hunted through second-hand shops and dug through my drawers of ‘might-come-in-handy’ stuff. One of the ideas I came up with was to use large wheels to join the pages. The children and their teachers loved that! Much to my astonishment… and joy… I won the competition. I came first! After that, I entered the Manufaktura Książki (Book Manufactory) competition three times and won a place ‘on the podium’ every time.
And I guess that first book is where the name of your organisation comes from… Fundacja Kołobajki* ?
Right! After that, I entered a few more competitions. In the meantime, I met my fiancé and the idea of setting up our own foundation was born. In addition to our fundamental activities, we also try to spread knowledge about visual impairment. We started collaborating with the inmates of one of the prisons in Strzelce Opolskie**. We made a film for them, showing them how to create tactile books, step by step. They reproduced our designs, making a total of around fifty copies of Cinderella. And they enjoyed the activity itself so much that they’ve carried on with it to this day, although without our involvement now!
Your interests certainly don’t begin and end with the foundation, though. Bookbinding, graphic art, illustration, nail art, crafts, designing and making jewellery, 3D printing… Where on earth do you find the time and energy for all that?!
When what we do gets a positive reception, that motivates me to act. As a foundation, we once succeeded in running workshops day after day for three months in a row. But the pandemic’s certainly put a spoke in our wheel. So we’re not setting ourselves that kind of challenge at the moment. We’re working at a gentler pace. In my free time, I enjoy watching serials, listening to podcasts or playing Indie games, survival games or RPGs! As far as travel’s concerned, my dream is to take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
At Insights, we’d had no idea that tactile books even existed! The diversity of interests relished by MakoLab’s staff never ceases to amaze us! We’re thrilled to have you all on board 😊
* Kołobajki is a word coined by Patrycja and her fiancé. It is composed of two words, koło (wheel) and bajka (fairy tale) – ed.
** A town in southern Poland – ed.
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