1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m an illustrator, currently based in Belgrade, Serbia. I grew up in Kotor, a small town on the Adriatic coast in Montenegro. I lived there for 19 years, and then I moved to Belgrade to study. As soon as I learned to hold a pencil in my hand, I started drawing. My dad always tells this story where when I was two years old I was asked by a friend of theirs to draw him a chicken, and as I was sitting across from him I immediately started drawing it upside down, from his point of view. It was something that I obviously wasn’t aware of at that time, but being perceptive about others was inherent to me from a very early age.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
My illustrations are a blend of playful textures, pastel colors, and dreamy atmosphere. I aim to create compositions or settings that often generate tranquil poetic images. I draw everything through digital tools and processing, but I try to add an analogue feel to all of my illustrations by using different textures and brushes.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
All my works are digital; I draw everything using a Wacom graphic tablet. I prefer digital over analogue because it gives me more freedom to experiment. As I really often change my mind about how something should look, it is more convenient for me to draw digitally and it is less time consuming.
4. What is your artistic process like?
At first stage of sketching I do a few thumbnails on paper just to get the feel of overall idea and composition. If it’s commissioned work, before sketching I do a little research on the subject. I usually come to the general idea quickly so most of the time I make only a couple of sketches. I always do the detailed ones as I think it saves both art director’s time and mine. After the approval goes the coloring part, which is, maybe, the part that I like the most as it generally sets the atmosphere. When it comes to my personal work, I often come to ideas in that transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. I have a very busy mind, which unfortunately causes me troubles with sleep, but the good part of it are those moments of “threshold consciousness” phase, where images just pop out. I usually immediately write them down or make a quick sketch, and then deal with them in the morning.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I would say that Mediterranean life in general is a big part of that well from which I draw inspiration. I am born and grew up in a small town on the Adriatic coast and I used to wake up every day having the sea view outside my home’s window. I had not been aware how much this was important to me before I moved away. It is not so easy to explain the exact thing I find inspiring about it, but it is present as a general feeling in my life and work. Additionally, there are experiences that I gather both directly from my life and indirectly from everything that surrounds me in everyday life, as well as in literature and music. As artistic influences, I can name a few artists whose work I admire a lot: Henri Rousseau, Gauguin, Klee, James Jean, Kustaa Saksi. I’m not sure in which amount they’ve influenced my work directly, but when I look at their paintings I feel like I really want to transmit myself in surroundings they made, and live in the kind of world they created. That aspect of art is so important to me, even in my personal work where I always somehow try to create settings that I find more appealing than the reality we’re living in.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
I can say that it plays a big role in my life. I process everything through it, as I’m always surrounded by art in some way, and not just by working in this particular field of applied art. I think it has made me more open to the world in general and more tolerant of all the differences in it. It has made me able to perceive things better and helped me to understand people and their feelings and reactions. This applies to myself, too. Through the different forms of art I’ve also discovered some layers of me as a human being that I had not been aware of before, and that discovering part happens all the time; it’s a continuous process.
7. Where did you study?
I started my studies of graphic design at Faculty of Arts and Design and finished my art education in the field of Illustration and Book design at Faculty of Applied Arts, in Belgrade.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
I never make plans longer than three months ahead. I have some general idea where I want to be in five years, but I try not to make a plan of it, as I find it limiting and restrictive for the things that may come unexpectedly. Not everything can be planned and I like to be surprised. However, I can certainly say that I hope that I’ll be able to make my living from doing what I’m doing. I’d like to see my work applied in different fields of design and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with my dream clients and have some challenging assignments.
9. What about in ten?
I really can’t think that far into the future. Everything I said in previous question applies to this one, too. I suppose, like everyone, I wish to see myself happy in doing whatever life has brought to me by then.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
Probably the same thing that I myself try to find in the art, some kind of calmness and feeling that even though we’re all here for the unknown, limited amount of time, it’s worth it. I hope viewers can find peace and tranquillity and get something for themselves out of the images I create.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Italian and Mediterranean in general. I don’t eat meat, but I eat fish and dairy products. I think that I’ve read somewhere that it makes me pescetarian. Everything is labelled today, and I’m not a big fan of that. However, I really like to cook and I’m good at it, and I have an army of friends to confirm that. 😀 The love for cooking comes from my dad, as he is a passionate gourmand. The rest of my family think of food as a way to satisfy hunger, but the two of us really find a great pleasure both in preparing and eating it afterwards.
12. Favourite book?
I have a hard time picking one in particular. I’m really into Yugoslavian literature and my favourite writer is Danilo Kiš, therefore I can recommend his novels “Garden, Ashes” and “Hourglass”, which I like the most. Then, “The Rabies” by Borislav Pekić, and “The diary of Charnojevic” by Miloš Crnjanski. When it comes to contemporary Serbian writers I like authors like Srđan Valjarević and Ivan Tokin. Additionally, I’m into the work of Albert Camus – especially his essays; Jack Kerouac, and Eugène Ionesco. When it comes to poetry I like reading F.G. Lorca, Vasko Popa, and C. Cavafy’s poems. “The portable Frank” by Jim Woodring is so far the best graphic novel I’ve ever read, and I can recommend “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, too.
13. Favourite genre of music?
I don’t have a particular one. I like listening to some electronic/ downtempo / trip hop music, especially while I’m working as it goes well with the meditative state I’m in. Artists like Bonobo, Glass Animals, Darkside, Superpoze, are some musicians whose music I enjoy listening to. Furthermore, I love listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Kills, Repetitor, and Yugoslavian new wave music.
14. What are your hobbies?
For the past few months it’s been yoga and improving my Italian. I studied Italian both in elementary and high school, as it is obligatory as a second foreign language in some schools in Montenegro. As for nearly ten years I didn’t have a chance to practice speaking it and deepen my knowledge, I’ve decided to change that now. So far I’m finding great pleasure in it.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
It’s a bit hard for me to think of this question in terms “could’ve been, should’ve been”. I think that if I hadn’t chosen this vocation in the past, I’d probably studied architecture. However, if I consider this question as a question about what I would do if I wasn’t able to be an illustrator any more, I’d probably open a restaurant of Mediterranean cuisine. It sounds very appealing to me and I could see myself being content doing it.