Yulia Yrkoski on Illustration and Staying True to Yourself

Illustration student Yulia Yrkoski talks about their Columbia experience, revolutionizing the industry

It was no surprise that Yulia Yrkoski started drawing at an early age. Both their mother and grandmother wanted to be artists but didn’t have the opportunity. Yrkoski decided to follow that passion and is now set to graduate from Columbia’s Illustration program in the spring of 2022. In this interview, Yrkoski tells us about their Columbia experience, current projects, and the hope to revolutionize the industry. 

When and how did you come to know that you wanted to study Illustration?

I have been drawing since I was very little but my decision was made when I found out both my mother and her mother wanted to be artists. They didn’t get the chance to fulfill that passion so I’m doing it. I also think illustration can be adapted to many aspects of art, studying it gives me a chance to adapt into any creative profession I want.

Why did you decide to study at Columbia? What has been your experience at Columbia so far?

I finished high school in the Chicago suburbs, I wanted an on-campus experience in the city to become more independent. Columbia was the last school I applied to, but it made the biggest impact on me. The program was specifically important to me—if the school was good but the illustration course wasn’t, I didn’t want it. I could see that Columbia’s BA program would prepare me for what I wanted to do.

Tell us about some of your favorite projects you have been involved with as well as any projects you are currently working on.

Most recently, I designed the holiday display for Shop Columbia, it should be up any day. I had a lot of fun designing all the characters involved. I'm quite lucky to share the inside of my mind in such a way. I’m also drawing a short comic in my graphic novel class and making some tangible products for my freelance class. Being a senior, it’s important to visualize my artwork in the real world. And making something physical on my own is a crucial step.

What advice do you have for prospective students or students who want to study Illustration?

Stay absolutely true to yourself and listen to your inner child. You already know what’s important to you, it’s been on your mind since you were young. When you draw the things that interest you, you become the best artist version of yourself. With these original ideas, opportunities will come. There is no need to adapt into something that’s popular and has already been done. Skill will come with time, what you need to know is who you are.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan on seeking out freelance jobs and saving some money to return to Poland where I’m originally from. I want to pursue art back home, perhaps revolutionize some part of that industry, and grow my career somewhere my heart belongs.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Check out my website: gargoyleclaws.com!


Daisy Franco
Communications Manager