For this season we’ve teamed up once again with our favourite Hungarian illustrator, Levi Csordás. His pattern, KEMPING‘73 is full of wonderful childhood memories of the hiking adventures, from behind the Iron Curtain. Levi used the iconic socialist era symbols and objects associated with hiking culture, from the ever present blue drinking fountains & ping-pong bats, to the tube packaged cream cheese. Scroll down to read our interview with Levi, and check out the pieces in the collection!
How did you become a graphic designer?
I started drawing at a young age, even before I can remember. My cousins, Marci and Juli were my first masters, and they introduced me to visual arts.
I became a graphic designer by chance. I wasn’t really sure what it was, until I got accepted to art school, but I always felt, that the only thing that interested me was drawing: to turn the 3D world into two dimensions, rewrite reality and simplify. Painting and sculpture didn’t really excite me. But I really consider myself more of a “drawer”, an illustrator rather than a graphic designer.
You were the first artist we ever worked with at YKRA, can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes! Balázs asked me to create a design for a silkscreen printed t-shirt, because at the time the brand was supposed to be about streetwear, as this was long before the first backpacks. We did the printing ourselves in his grandmother’s house, and it came out pretty messy, and it never really got sold. I drew a tanker boat that had a socialist era housing complex built on it, with the classic iron playground and everything. From far away the whole boat became a face. A bunch of people ended up wearing them around the Telep bar in Budapest, and sometimes you can still spot it on people.
What kind of memories do you have of hiking as a kid? How is this reflected in the KEMPING’73 pattern?
We went hiking to the hills of Buda with my parents every weekend, ending up on the mountain visiting our relatives. Every trip was a new adventure, and I was hoping I would find bones, or a skull, prehistoric stone tools or a battle helmet from a war: anything exciting. In the countryside, while traveling I would be looking for the classic blue water fountains, so iconic from the socialist past, which were always a relief on a hot sunny day. As I got older a slingshot, and binoculars became an important accessory of my adventures. In the hills of Buda, that rise above Budapest, my favourite part is the Pionir Train. It’s a small rail system that runs through the forest, and was operated by children during the socialist era. I also like the rest areas, where we would grill meat on the campfire. I was also inspired by the furniture of these national parks, the tables and benches, bridges, wooden cabins and storm shelters, and playgrounds built from wood, as well as the tourist marking, which we never actually followed.
What are your favourite projects? What are you working on right now?
I am making facebook event covers for a party called Kimitrak here in Budapest, and some illustrations for Marie Claire magazine. I also have some full page illustrations in the just released Roham magazine for Trash festival. I made a print for Madzag pet supplies, with a bunch of dogs, and I just designed some album covers for Budabeats records and a band called Savages Y Suefo. And oh, yeah, I have a drawing in the upcoming zine of Zina, but that is a secret.