Manka (Interview with Mónika Horváth)

Manka – when illustration comes to life

1. First of all, tell us a little about yourself, who is Mónika Horváth?

I originally majored in teaching drawing and visual communication but I never really wanted to teach. I was always drawn to illustration and visual arts and crafts. When I was little I used to read a lot, but I never remembered the words, only pictures. I loved white paper and I was always drawing. I didn’t know how, but I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. At the moment I am living in the countyside and I am creating.

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2. And Manka? Where is the name coming from?

Manka is a nice, chubby figure who came to life from a drawing of a nice chubby girl. I drew her for one Swedish illustration contest and somehow she stayed with me after that, so I made her out of fabric too. When I was making her I was thinking she should have a name and I wanted a short, girly nickname, something that goes well with me also. This is how Manka came about, as a mixture of several female names:  Mária, Annamária, Melinda, Mónika.

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3. How did it all start?

As I said, I always wanted to be an illustrator, so after I graduated I threw myself into that. Then one day I got a sewing machine from my parents and there was no stopping since. I fell in love with fabrics too. I made simple bags in the beginning and then Manka came along. Manka also inspired two picture books, with simple text. After that there were bags with Manka figure on them. I never officially learned how to sew, I figured it out by myslef, but when I struggled I went to my mom, who is a professional seamstress (lucky me!).

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4. If someone asks what you do, do you say you’re an illustrator or a dollmaker?

Most of the time I say I am an illustrator and I sew my own design dolls. Manka took over the lead in my life but I am trying to control it. Everything started from drawing and illustration so I think it will always be my main road. Until I come up with something more stiking:)

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5. What are you working on now?

Drawing and sewing:) For a few months I had no illustration commisions, but at the moment I have several. I am just drawing a color-in book. Along with that I am sewing dolls and bags and if I have some time I am thinking about Christmas ideas already.

6. Do you have a 5/10-year plan, or do you just do it instinctively?

Few years ago I said I want to do what I love, sew and draw. Now that is not enough, now it is important to make a living out of that and to be able to keep a healthy balance between work and private life. I’d like to rest more, travel more and to also bring to life all the ideas I get along the way.

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7. Favourite Hungarian designers!

MIMM, Marbushka Kürti Andrea, Róth Anikó, and many more.

8. Favourite foreign designers!

Pink Cheeks Studios, Geninne, Gustavo Aimar, Bell & Boo, The Black Apple, Delphine Durand, and many more.

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