Eliska Podzimkova, 21, lives halfway across the world in Prague, but she dreams of New York and spends her time adding playful, eye-catching illustrations to photos and videos of the city on her Instagram account AnimateNY. The Czech animation student said she spent the summer of 2012 in New York studying at the New York Film Academy and fell in love with the city. She opened the AnimateNY Instagram account last year and has amassed thousands of followers since. Podzimkova spoke to us about the inspiration behind the whimsical images.
Metro: When did you start doing these illustrations of New York?
Podzimkova: Last spring. Like many people before me, I fell in love with New York and I’m sad I’m living in Prague, so I was looking for photos to remind me how the city looked and I was looking for places I liked there. I found places I’ve been to before that I love so much and I’m creative so I wanted to add something that made it my own. I just drew some crazy creatures that fit in there from my imagination. Some people actually think I’m on drugs to draw these crazy things but I’m not.
Are you an art student right now?
Yeah, I study animation at a film academy in Prague. I finish this year. I’m considering moving back to New York. I’m looking at master’s programs in New York City like Pratt and SVA and New School so I have to figure it out. It’s my dream right now to move to New York.
What are your favorite places in New York?
When I was studying at New York Film Academy, I lived in DUMBO with my friends. That’s one of my favorite places in New York City.
And you find photos from other people on Instagram?
Yeah. A lot of people ask me to edit one of their photos but I’m not always able to edit every photo. I have to choose the photos because it’s not always possible to do something with each photo.
Which ones are your favorites?
I really like the one with the ear. I named it “Listen to the City” and one of my other favorites is the one with the cabs in the sky.
When you add your drawings to these photos, do you pick subjects that remind you of the city as well?
I definitely try to always draw something that is specific to the place in New York. Also, I have never tried to edit the photo from somewhere other than New York City. The city inspires me so much. I don’t need to look for other photos yet.
What was it like coming to New York?
It was crazy. When I came for the first time, it was like a movie. As a European, I always saw it in the movies and it was true, but it had something more than what you can see in the movies. You can feel the atmosphere and you can experience people’s reactions in the city, so I love to observe people in New York and the behavior in New York is very different from people in Europe. I really enjoy watching people in New York and I miss it a lot. I try to visit New York as much as I can. I’ve visited like five times since I lived there, so I’m there quite a lot. And I have many friends there, so I miss them.
How did you feel when you had to move back to Prague?
I was kind of depressed thinking about how boring my life here is in the Czech Republic. I was also very disappointed in our educational system because of my experience at my four-week week program in New York. The academics were amazing so I was like, what am I doing here in the Czech Republic?
What’s your favorite memory of being in New York?
I lived in DUMBO, so my favorite memory is the first moment when I came out of the subway in Manhattan. I got out of the subway and looked up and I was speechless how high everything was. It was the classic tourist’s first reaction. Also, I studied in New York so I didn’t have time to go and do all of the touristic stuff so I just went by subway to house parties and lived a New York life. I think that I will always have a different point of view in New York City because of that.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark