Lenka Nebeská, DiS.
Tell us about your childhood. Did you know that you would devote yourself to art?
I had a passion for reading books and fine art when I was a child. I really enjoyed creating and drawing something. I was also interested in bookbinding. My grandmother was a bookbinder and she supported my interests a lot. I still had the remnants of various materials at my disposal, which I used to materialize my imagination. Those activities satisfied me the most. I loved nature and spent a lot of time there. I did not have many friends, I was more of a loner. My grandfather maintained an opinion in the family about "the true role and position of women in society." I think that's what influenced me a lot. As a child, I was headstrong and completely rejected social patterns. The idea of a stereotype terrified me since elementary school.
How did it happen that you chose medal making?
The medal profession actually chose me. After high school - the field of artistic ceramics - I wanted to continue my studies, but I could not get to the selected school. At the end of the summer, after graduation, when I still had no idea what to do, I received a completely unexpected letter from the Higher vocational school in Jablonec. It offered to take part in the talent tests held the following week. I had a very short time to decide and find out what the field "Minted medals and coins" actually contains. I had nothing to lose, so the decision was not too difficult. Over time, I found out that the school, where I was unsuccessfull at admission exams, provided the Higher vocational school with my contact data. Unlike other classmates who were metal engravers, I had to learn to work with new material and learn the basics of the engraving craft. After all, until then I worked mainly with clay and plaster as a ceramicist. To this day, I am grateful to my professors for the trust when they accepted me. They opened up a whole new world for me. Already during my studies, I had the opportunity to work on designs for coins and medals for the Czech Mint and the Czech National Bank, where I competed with renowned sculptors. I modeled and drew literally from morning till night. If my career is calculated from the first realized commissioned work, then I have been devoted to this profession since start of the school in 2005.
What do you like most about your job?
This work is never the same. It is always a new challenge that I look forward to. For me, it means above all freedom - the opportunity to create, realize my imagination, learn and play. I also really like the process itself - drawing, modeling, plaster engraving.
And what is the most difficult thing about medal making?
Sometimes these are due dates - for example, I would like to deal with some theme much more. And sometimes these are topics - if the topic does not appeal to me and I do not find it interesting, it will be difficult.
What are your hobbies? How do you relax?
My hobbies are mainly my profession and then books and antiques, which I like to renovate. Me and my partner, with whom I have been for seventeen years, live on the outskirts of Prague, in Zbraslav. I like to take care of our small garden and our animals - dog, cat, guinea pig and snake. Relaxation is something I try to learn. Paradoxically, I relax the most when working in the garden and building a house that we build on our own. I'm physically tired, but my head gets some rest.
How do your male colleagues perceive you?
I firmly believe that other medal makers - men - judge me by my abilities. I must admit that I meet here and there with opinions that distinguish between "male and female art", but it did not happen to me in the society of medal makers. In my non-professional environment, however, I have a feeling that a woman who makes a living from artistic activity, sculpture or ceramics is viewed with a certain irony. As a kind of "female creator" who just fills her free time, and not as an expert.
Share with us your achievements.
A great success for me was the victory in the competition for the design of a silver commemorative coin for the Czech National Bank. The theme was the anniversary of director Karel Zeman - the author of films that I really liked as a child. I also consider it a success to participate in world medal shows, where my work has the honor of being exhibited alongside renowned medal makers and representing Czech medal making. Every coin and medal that leaves the gates of the Mint and becomes part of one's collection is also a success. Currently, I am mainly employed in processing of a series of twelve coins dedicated to UNESCO monuments. The cycle is unique because the coins are stamped from platinum. For me, it is a new experience, because platinum embossing requires even lower relief than silver or gold coins.
Have you ever wanted to finish with your work?
When a person is freelance, sometimes it is difficult to make a living - especially when you work as a sculptor or medal maker. That's why I also do other work. I have a pottery workshop, I work as a pottery lecturer, I occasionally work with tile stove restorers and produce replicas of tiles, I restore ceramic and plaster sculptures and so on. Of course, the idea has occurred to me many times, but this concerned work with the exception of medal making. I would not leave medal making. I will not do anything that would make it impossible for me to devote myself fully to medal work.
How do you see your future?
I would like to still have enough medal opportunities and I firmly hope that I will be able to devote myself to my profession for the rest of my life. The medal making is also being attacked by work optimization, and I am a little afraid that we will be replaced by computer graphics and machines one day. And then the medal makers, who still draw the designs with a pencil and prepare the models by hand, will be something like a museum exhibit with the caption "that's how it was done before".