Vyšehrad basilica tote bag anyone? Designer offers huge range of Czech-related products

Prague Muzeum metro station wall design t-shirt, photo: archive of Redbubble

Mobile phone covers in the design of the wall at Muzeum Metro station, t-shirts of the Dancing Building and face masks featuring Klatovy’s historic Town Hall. These are just a few of a collection of Czech-related products featuring designs by Angela Mantilla that are now on available to buy via the Red Bubble service. I spoke to Mantilla, who is from Colombia, on the phone from her home in London.

“I moved to the UK a couple of years ago and after me my sister moved to the Czech Republic, to Prague.

“I was going to visit anyway, but now I have that connection with her.

“I’ve already travelled there three times and I will continue to go, because she lives there and because I like it. It’s a beautiful place.”

You sell a wide range of things, including sweatshirts with the design of the wall at the Muzeum Metro station and tote bags with the tower of the castle in Český Krumlov. What are your biggest sellers when it comes to Czech-related products?

Vyšehrad Prague interior of Basilica of St Peter and St Paul iPhone Wallet,  photo: archive of Redbubble

“Well, I have just started creating that collection, so for now I would say the Metro wall – that’s the most popular one.”

And of the Metro ones, what items are selling the most? You have so many different products, from t-shirts to stickers.

“The one that people are buying the most is iPhone covers – the plastic cover that protects an iPhone.”

Some of the subjects in your images seem a little obscure. For example, why are you selling phone cases with an image of the Astoria hotel in Karlovy Vary, which isn’t even one of the best-known hotels in Karlovy Vary? How did you choose that particular subject, for example?

“When I visited that place what I liked the most was the facades – just looking at the facades straight on.

“I studied architecture. I work here as a 3D artist but I think because I’m an architect I’m always looking at them in that way of classical drawings, where you just draw a facade straight on; not in a three-dimensional way but more in a 2D way.

“So I liked photographing the facades of that place. It just caught my eye.

“They had beautiful decoration. They were all of a similar style so I tried to take photos of several facades.”

On the Czech internet recently there has been lots of interest in your designs based on the wall at Muzeum Metro station. Are there any copyright issues surrounding that? Can you just take a photo of the wall and then produce it, as you’ve done?

Karlovy Vary architecture facade Tank Top,  photo: archive of Redbubble

“Yes, I think it’s OK, because the photograph belongs to me.

“I took the photograph so I am just selling a photograph that I took.

“It applies the same as a photograph that you sell as a souvenir of the Castle or of the main square.

“Yes, the place was built and designed by a certain architect, a certain designer. But you took the photograph.

“So as long as the photograph is yours, I think that’s OK.”

I understand why people responded so much to that image of the Muzeum Metro station wall, because it is such a powerful, kind of iconic, image of Prague. What for you makes it such an attractive subject?

“I have been to that station several times and every time I go I stop and try to take as many photographs of it as I can.

“I found it very unique, from the stations that I’ve been to in Europe.

“And I really like that mid-century, geometrical design – it’s a bit like Op Art.

“So I really wanted to include it when I was doing the Czech Republic collection.

“That’s the one I liked the most, with those tones – the red tones.

“I’ve been to the others but that was my favourite one of stations on Line A with the panels.”