College: Academy of Applied Arts, Belgrade and Paris College of Art, Paris
How would you define yourself as an artist? The biggest nerd ever! (Traditional is Custom digital artist)
Why are you an artist, and when did you first become one?Very early on, my parents thought I was gifted so they bought me modelling clay for kids and, I can’tremember exactly how/when, I started making my own toys. It turned out great, I remember thembeing pretty impressed and that motivated me as a child to learn more and be better. It was alsomaking me incredibly happy. So I went to High School of Design in Belgrade and after that the Academy and have been practicing art in various media ever since.
What art do you most identify with? I’m very passionate about cinema, and while on my detour from painting, I spent some time working for a film production companies in Paris where I learned a lot and met some very talented directors, producers, actors. I realised I could somehow relate to the way an actor approaches his character from different angles, and I thought this is exactly what I want to do in my work, I want to approach my portraits from different angles and give these faces a real story and life.
What themes do you pursue? I like a work of aesthetic value, but if something is just beautiful, it’s pretty shallow to think that thisexperience is enough. It has to be underlined with something else, something intense, dramatic, emotional or something unknown and yet to be discovered. I would like to challenge people to think further than good/bad, beautiful/ugly, this or that. There is so much more to us, so much that we don’t really fit into useless categories. I like to go beyond prejudice, for example mental illness discrimination, body issues, and especially in regards to genders, I’m very sensitive about women and daily sexism everywhere around us. I’d like that to change and if people can feel compassion for some of these portraits, it means I’m doing something important. It’s a small contribution but one of many in the goal of changing mentality with people and affecting our way of thinking.
What inspires you to work? Something private, inner thoughts, everyday life, struggles, people with different issues, but also everyday life around me, my friends and family, many times they would say something in a conversation that would inspire me to explore it further and later end up painting about it.
Book: The hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Movies: “Shame” by Steve McQueen and “Melancholia” by Lars von Trier
Food: chocolate mousse
Quote: Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.
How do you build it in your mind before you start? It doesn’t magically appear in my mind, I collect references daily, news, photos, images, conversations, video clips, documentaries, and I have my notebook where I write all my thoughts or draw little sketches. And I let it rest in this library until it’s time to make something out of it. I have to precise, I paint every day and not all my portraits are deeply thought of, I do a lot of photo studies, based on various photo references I find online, or hire a model to pose for me, and this is sort of my way to practice, stay in shape and rest my mind for more serious work. I receive a lot of messages from young people and art students, asking for advice, and this would definitely be my best advice. If you have the possibility to enter a good art school, do it, but never stop working by yourself and on yourself every day.
What Role does the artist have in society? Extremely important role, art and design are everywhere, almost every single object in our life is creatively thought of by an artist or a designer. But in general, artists can be political, they can make people happy, open their minds, change their opinions, make them angry, learn something new. People need art and creativity in their lives, and that’s why art is everywhere for centuries.
Do you suffer for your art? I did before, because I couldn’t find a way to express myself properly. I was young, pretty shy and insecure, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and how to do it, should I draw in this way or that way, what will people think, the art critics, etc. It’ was ridiculous. So I switched jobs, took a break from painting and that’s when it all worked out for me, I guess I needed that break. Now, I’m able to do what I want because I’m just honest with myself and what I want to do. I just throw it out there, I don’t really care, because I’m being open and sharing my struggles in my work, sometimes it’s good painting and sometimes not so good and a work in progress, but I still do it and learn from it. That ’s the only way I can be passionate and have the energy to go on and work so hard every day.
What famous artists have influenced you, and how? Filmmakers like Steve MacQueen, Lars von Trier, Jenny Saville, Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, etc
What other interests do you have outside of art? I love to play video games but I have to say, in this very productive time, I can’t find anything more fun or fulfilling than my work. That’s a good point of being an artist, I guess, we are lucky that way to do what we love. It sounds incredibly nerdy but this is not a job where you would impatiently wait for the weekend, to get some rest, it’s a part of your life and there is no retiring from it. And also to make an artwork requires a lot of energy, time, preparation, research.
You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art performances today?In Paris, it’s a city that is never skipped by any artist or important exhibition, in fact it is one of thefirst most important centres of arts and culture. I’m also a member of the association of fine and applied artists of Serbia, we have some amazing talent there so I follow what’s going on in Serbia as well.
How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? If I wasn’t allowed to create art I’d probably still do it, when nobody is watching, and burry it in a secret location.
What are your next projects? I have a lot of commissioned work and I’m trying to organize it the best way. I’m opening my store, starting to print and sell my work personally. So basically I am focused on myself and this part of the job for now, because, even if I’d love only to paint I have to deal with the business side of it as well. Because, if I didn’t sell my work I wouldn’t have the means to create it, so I just have to do it. But I work on other projects when I find the best time for them. I’m open to collaborations with other artists, group projects, exhibitions.
What’s the best advice anyone gave you?Don’t be lazy, work hard and you will reach your goals.