How would you describe your style of artwork and how has this evolved?
My artwork is colourful, somewhat retro, and a little naive. At first glance it seems aimed at children (and some of it is), but there is a dark sense of humour underneath which makes it more suitable for adults. I like using lots of different mediums, and applying my illustrations to various items (e.g. cushions and mirrors). I knit too: I get to explore my love of words with that medium.
What is your background and what lead you to where you are today?
I was born in Melbourne and have always lived here. However my parents come from a pretty island off the coast of Croatia, and I believe that my childhood visits there had a profound effect on my aesthetic. The combination of mid century Eastern European decoration in my grandmother’s kitchen and the unfamiliar packaging in the supermarket left a huge impression on me.
I studied art history at university and eventually found myself working as an illustrator in the fashion industry. I spent fifteen years there, the last five designing fabrics, prints, toys and bedding for children’s retailer Seed. I started to sell my own work in 2009 and in late 2010 I finally plucked up the courage to leave the corporate world and try my luck.
What inspires your work, and where do you look for inspiration?
The cross cultural experiences of my childhood left a huge impression on me. I will always love the aesthetic of European delis, traditional kitchens and old children’s books. But to quote Paul Smith, “you can find inspiration in anything”: from the library to the tram and the garden to the internet. The wider the net is cast, the better. The greatest surprise is where the next idea will come from.
What materials do you prefer to work with and which ones would you like to explore more?
I enjoy using acrylic paint on wood. The wood gives the work depth, and it can be layered in a way that you can’t when you are painting on paper. (It also means that if you make a dreadful mistake, you can sand it back, too.) I also enjoy making graphs of interesting word and pattern combinations and then knitting them. I love using watercolour and fountain pens too, but haven’t had much opportunity to do so lately. The same can be said for ceramics.. and printmaking.. and patchwork…
Describe your workspace and surroundings and what your creative process is.
I am lucky to have a studio in a dedicated building which was originally a boot factory. My space has two large east facing windows so it is relatively light. I have two tables. One has a scroll saw attached to it; the other is actually an enormous light box. The walls are filled with pictures of things that I find inspirational. They’re increasingly print outs of things I have found on the internet, but there are childhood keepsakes, postcards and odd objects collected on travels as well. I also have mountains of books.
What do you love most about being an artist, and what are some challenges?
I love being my own boss, and not having to conform to someone else’s schedule. I also love that I can make my work evolve according to both the ideas that I feel confident in and those that are getting a good response from others, without it being too much of a risk. The biggest challenges are getting myself out there and the financial pressures: especially not having the money to travel as much as I used to.
image credit: Photo by Warren Kirk
What has been your favourite project or exhibition and why?
The window that I had at Craft Victoria (in May 2011) did a great deal for my confidence and led to other interesting projects, including having my work stocked at Tarra Warra Museum of Art. Being a part of The Design Files Open House in every iteration has been both a huge honour and really fruitful for my profile at the same time.
What aspirations do you have for the future and what would be your dream project?
I hope to be able to make a secure living from the work that I do. I would also like to occasionally go back to designing things that are made by other people, as long as the process is ethical. To work with a respected international brand like Anthropologie/ Urban Outfitters would be a dream come true.