“Maybe it's the need for mystery and spirituality or maybe it just looks good.” Jakub Hrdlička, working under the artistic pseudonym of Hrzla, shares in an exclusive interview for SWARM Mag his creative processes, inspirations, and the outlook on the recent gradual resurrection of medieval themes in art.

Is the place you were born reflected in your artwork?

I was born in Žatec, the Czech Republic. It’s a city of hops, which greatly influenced me – I like beer. History has rolled through Žatec, it played a major role in the Hussite revolution, and it also joined the Bohemian Revolt. Films are often shot in Žatec, the last one was JoJo Rabbit. You can find some pretty dark corners there, old opulent but flaking houses surrounded by tall yellowing grass and twisted trees. A bleak atmosphere I enjoy.

What are your other projects and/or collaborations besides illustration?

One is Děda Myšinka (freely translated as Grandaddy Mousey), a death and black metal poster and graphic project with Vojtěch Jasanský, a member of several bands (Sněť, Bahratal, Lezok). We create mainly for metal bands and small festivals. I’m also a member of the NÝBRŽ group (@nybrz_ilustratori) that came to life when I was studying graphic design in Ústí nad Labem. It’s a crew of illustrators, we create together from time to time – zines, exhibitions. You could see our works at Prague’s LUSTR Festival. At LUSTR, I also was part of another creative group. We named it Z pekla se kouří (Smoke’s Coming from Hell) and what we do is basically metal illustration. It consists of Vojta Jasanský, Tomáš Mitura, David Seerus Kukol, David Dolenský and I. 

I also have my own ambient dungeon synth project MHOR ( that I, according to the scene’s customs, keep secret. And I play bass guitar in a band that might amount to something one day. It’s starting to take shape.


Where is the inspiration for your artworks coming from?

Wherever. Medieval illuminations, baroque paintings, archaeological discoveries, fantasy and sci-fi illustrations, amateur metal drawings, contemporary illustrations, art-brut authors, and sometimes even I don’t know where from – the shapes just crawl out of me.


Do you feel like the medieval theme is making a comeback into art nowadays?

For sure. The tendency has been there since I was little. But that was predominantly for long-haired weirdos who played Dungeons & Dragons and read Lord of the Rings. Nowadays, it’s kind of omnipresent, which might bother those who have been interested in it for a long time but they can do zilch about it. Maybe it’s the need for mystery and spirituality or maybe it just looks good.

A2 plakat

How would you define your style and technique(s)?

I would say I’m a drawer because I mostly use the line and the pencil. Recently, I started to play with watercolours and tempera again. Colours are not my forte or, more precisely, I don’t think them through in advance if it’s not absolutely necessary.

If you were a clairvoyant or a prophet, what would be your prediction for the upcoming years in the art world?

Well, I don’t know. I don’t give it much thought. I’m not an oracle.


What would be a medieval weapon of your choosing?

I was thinking the Zweihänder (a double-handed sword) but that’s too heavy. So maybe a longsword.


Is there a being, a story or a theme that is constantly popping up in your artworks?

Sure. A goblin with pointy ears, a bristly demon, wrinkly trees, vessels of ambiguous shapes, and strangely gothic dreamy buildings and temples. And also a tall, skinny dude.


Any upcoming larger projects for 2021?

I have a book and a zine in progress. Finishing the zine won’t be a problem, it’s just collecting contributions from others. I’m looking forward to it. And the book, well, I would like to take a look at it. I would like to get it going but I have the feeling I should redo it completely.

hnuser klasik
TN8 kopirka


Artworks / Jakub Hrdlička @hrzla @nybrz_ilustratori

Interview / Markéta Kosinová

Translation / Františka Blažková

Metal posters / Jakub Hrdlička @hrzla & Vojtěch Jasanský @vojta_kobra   members of Děda a Myšinka @dedamysinkacollective 

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